Chairwoman of Labour Antisemitism Probe Admits, Defends Joining Party on Day of Her Appointment
The head of the inquiry into antisemitism in Labour admitted that she joined the party on the day of her appointment and defended her decision to do so, the UK’s Daily Mail reported.
During a press conference on Monday, Chairwoman Shami Chakrabarti — former director of the human rights group, Liberty — said her membership in the Labour Party will not impinge on her ability to conduct the investigation “without fear or favor.”
In April, Chakrabarti was appointed by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to launch the investigation, after MP Naz Shah and former London mayor Ken Livingstone were suspended for making antisemitic remarks. Over the past several months, more than 50 Labour members have been similarly suspended.
“It was my judgement that, as a Labour supporter who had previously not been affiliated to any political party, I wanted Labour Party members to trust that I am conducting this inquiry with their best interest and values at heart. I was appointed by the leader of the Labour Party. I consider myself to be working for and in the best interests of the Labour Party,” she said.
Chakrabarti’s statements come on the heels of questions surrounding the objectivity of the inquiry’s vice chairman, David Feldman, who — as The Algemeiner reported — came under fire for attacking the US State Department’s definition of antisemitism, accepted by a number of other governments. Feldman is also affiliated with Independent Jewish Voices (IJV), which called the accusations of antisemitism in Labour “politically motivated” and aimed at discrediting Corbyn.
Chakrabarti defended Feldman, saying he is approaching the investigation with an “open mind.”
Aspersions now cast on the neutrality of both Feldman and Chakrabarti have led some to question Corbyn’s actual attitude to the probe. On Sunday, Jonathan Arkush, president of the Board of Deputies — the umbrella organization representing British Jewry — said he is disappointed in Corbyn’s “less-than-wholehearted” backing of the investigation, the Jewish Chronicle reported.
“It is time Jeremy Corbyn make clear his genuine support, instead of giving the impression he is being forced to do so by the media,” Arkush said.