Peter Willsman: Labour suspends NEC member over anti-Semitism remarks

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A member of Labour’s ruling body, the NEC, has been suspended over remarks he reportedly made about the party’s anti-Semitism row.

LBC radio reported that Peter Willsman was recorded saying the Israeli embassy was “almost certainly” behind the row.

Various Labour MPs, including deputy leader Tom Watson, and the Board of Deputies of British Jews have condemned the remarks.

The BBC has approached Mr Willsman for comment about the recording.

The remarks are understood to have been recorded in January during a meeting between Mr Willsman and American-Israeli author Tuvia Tenenbom.

Mr Willsman is accused of saying: “This is off the record. It’s almost certain who is behind all this anti-Semitism against Jeremy [Corbyn], almost certainly it’s the Israeli embassy.”

The Board of Deputies of British Jews president Marie van der Zyl called for Mr Willsman’s expulsion from the party, saying he had “not only denied anti-Semitism in the Labour Party but has resorted to a well-known anti-Semitic trope to make his point”.

Mr Watson condemned the remarks and said they illustrated “how serious the problem of anti-Semitism is in our party”.

The Labour Party said: “Peter Willsman has been suspended from the Labour Party, pending investigation.”

A spokesperson said the party took complaints of anti-Semitism “extremely seriously” and was “committed to challenging and campaigning against it in all its forms”.

Mr Willsman was involved in another row last year, after he was recorded saying he had never seen anti-Semitism in the party ,and suggesting Jewish “Trump fanatics” were behind the accusations.

He later apologised and said not all his remarks had been accurately reported but that he would refer himself for equalities training.

Mr Willsman was re-elected to the NEC – the body acts as Labour’s governing body and oversees the direction of the party and its policy-making process – last year.

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