Labour decision expected on Jeremy Corbyn suspension
Jeremy Corbyn’s suspension from the Labour party could be resolved as early as Tuesday, with a panel of the party’s governing body expected to meet to consider disciplinary action against the former leader, the Guardian understands.
Corbyn issued a statement on Tuesday saying he regretted any hurt caused by a statement he made in the wake of a report by the equalities watchdog into antisemitism, which led to his suspension. It is understood the statement was also submitted to the party as part of the investigation process shortly after his suspension.
Party sources said the case would be considered at meeting of members of the national executive committee on Tuesday afternoon, with a decision expected on Tuesday or Wednesday.
The panel, which will act on recommendations made by the party’s governance and legal unit that examines disciplinary cases, could decide to lift the suspension with conditions attached, issue a formal warning, or it could recommend the case be heard by the party’s highest disciplinary body, the quasi-judicial national constitutional committee, which hears cases where expulsion from the party is recommended.
The former Labour leader was suspended for his comments after the publication of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report into antisemitism in the party, which rejected the overall conclusions and said the problem was “dramatically overstated for political reasons” by opponents and the media.
That statement set the former Labour leader directly at odds with his successor, Keir Starmer, who spoke at a press conference moments after Corbyn’s statement, where he said those who “deny there is a problem are part of the problem … Those who pretend it is all exaggerated or factional are part of the problem.”
Corbyn said he regretted the pain that had been caused. “We must never tolerate antisemitism or belittle concerns about it. And that was not my intention in anything I said this week,” his statement said. “I regret the pain this issue has caused the Jewish community and would wish to do nothing that would exacerbate or prolong it.”
Corbyn said he had attempted to “clear up any confusion” about his previous statement in a broadcast interview and clarifying statement on the day, though he does not directly apologise for the comments.
“The publication of the EHRC report should have been a moment for the Labour party to come together in a determination to address the shortcomings of the past and work as one to root out antisemitism in our own ranks and wider society,” he said.
“To be clear, concerns about antisemitism are neither “exaggerated” nor “overstated”. The point I wished to make was that the vast majority of Labour party members were and remain committed antiracists deeply opposed to antisemitism.”
Corbyn said he supported Starmer’s decision to accept all the EHRC recommendations in full, “in accordance with my own lifelong convictions, will do what I can to help the party move on, united against antisemitism which has been responsible for so many of history’s greatest crimes against humanity”.
“I hope this matter is resolved as quickly as possible, so that the party can work together to root out antisemitism and unite to oppose and defeat this deeply damaging Conservative government.”
The decision to suspend Corbyn was taken by the party’s general secretary, David Evans, rather than Starmer. The party has stressed that Corbyn must go through the formal disciplinary process, given that political interference in cases was one of the key criticisms in the EHRC report.
The EHRC report found Labour responsible for unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination over antisemitism. It cites “serious failings in the party leadership in addressing antisemitism and an inadequate process for handling antisemitism complaints”.
Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said the party should not accept the statement made by Corbyn, calling it a “pathetic non-apology” from the former Labour leader.
“If the party wants to show it is serious about tackling anti-Jewish racism, it will consign this statement, just like the culture which led to the EHRC’s damning findings, to the dustbin of history,” she said.
“To do otherwise would be a failure of leadership which would risk the party slipping backwards.”