Labour Party drops investigation of lawmaker it says ‘screamed abuse’ during party anti-Semitism debate


(JTA) — Britain’s Labour Party will not discipline a lawmaker who is the adopted son of a Holocaust survivor, for “screaming abuse” at party officials during an argument over how the party is dealing with anti-Semitism.

Labour lawmaker Ian Austin said he had a “heated discussion” with Labour officials during the debate in July about the way the party defines anti-Semitism but denies their claim that he “screamed abuse” at party chairman Ian Lavery.

Austin in his argument condemned the party’s decision, at the time, to not adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s full definition of anti-Semitism including all its examples, which was later reversed.

Austin was reprimanded and warned about his future conduct, the BBC reported on Tuesday, citing unnamed Labour sources. Austin said in a statement that the party’s general secretary Jennie Formby in a letter told him that he would face no further action in connection with the episode.

“I make no apologies for being upset about anti-Semitism. I think every Labour Party member ought to be angry about racism and the failure to deal with it properly,” Austin told the BBC. “But I did not scream abuse, as was alleged, so I am pleased the Labour Party have dropped its threat to hold an investigation.”

In September, the party adopted the internationally accepted definition of anti-Semitism, along with a statement that would allow “freedom of expression” on Israel.

Austin called on the party to deal with outstanding cases of anti-Semitism. “The Labour Party’s priority ought to be doing everything it can to win back the trust of the Jewish community, not investigating people like me for complaining about their failure to tackle anti-Semitism properly,” he said.

Party head Jeremy Corbyn, a hard-left politician who has called Hezbollah and Hamas his “friends” and is fighting accusations of harboring anti-Semitic sentiments, has said that anti-Semitism has no place in the party and has vowed to fight it.

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