Corbyn rounded on by nearly 100 MPs and peers for ‘offensive’ decisions ‘this must stop!’

's deputy Mr Watson and 90 Labour MPs and peers have signed a statement in which they ask their party's leader to withdraw the whip from Mr Williamson, MP for Derby North. The defiant act was followed by another letter signed by 68 Labour staff, informing Jennie Formby, the General Secretary of the party, about their views regarding Mr Williamson. In a letter shared by Mr Watson on Twitter, the 90 Labour members said they could not overstate the "depth and breadth of hurt and anger" at the way the case had been handled. 

The letter read: "We cannot overstate the depth and breadth of hurt and anger felt about the readmission of Chris Williamson into the and the questions that arise about the fairness of the process.

"We call on Jeremy Corbyn to show leadership by asking for this inappropriate, offensive and reputationally damaging decision to be overturned and reviewed.

"Ultimately, it is for Jeremy Corbyn to decide whether Chris Williamson retains the Labour whip.

"He must remove it immediately if we are to stand any hope of persuading anyone that the Labour party is taking antisemitism seriously."  

Mr Williamson, who is a left-wing ally of Mr Corbyn, was suspended in February in the midst of the Labour antisemitism row.

in its response to criticism over its handling of antisemitism allegations and this reaction had led Labour to become "demonised". 

He was also filmed saying he had celebrated the resignation of Joan Ryan MP, who quit Labour in protest over the handling of antisemitism and bullying complaints.

However, Mr Williamson was readmitted yesterday after a hearing of a National Executive Committee (NEC), which only issued against him a formal warning. 

Mr Watson stated the way the case had been handled raised questions over the fairness of the process - and accused the NEC of ignoring a recommendation Mr Williamson should be referred to the National Constitutional Committee for action. 

The letter continued: "The officer recommendation - that Chris Williamson should be referred to the national constitutional committee for action - was ignored by the members of the NEC panel.

"That the composition of that panel was changed at short notice seems highly irregular.

"Justice needs to be seen to be done and this process has not done that. 

"Given that the Labour party is being investigated by the EHRC over allegations of institutional antisemitism this case is particularly important.

"It is clear to us that the Labour party’s disciplinary process remains mired by the appearance of political interference. This must stop. We need a truly independent process."   

Mr Watson explained Mr Williamson has "stirred up so much upset" that a full independent inquiry is needed.  

He told the BBC: "We have never had an MP accused of stirring up so much upset in a particular community in Britain.

"It required a full inquiry. And that’s why the NEC decision is so bewildering.

"Sadly the only route left is for Jeremy to step in, show leadership, remove the whip and allow our chief whip to do a proper inquiry." 

Similarly, in the letter written by 68 Labour "Jewish and non-Jewish members of staff", the signatories explain the presence in the party of Mr Williamson makes them feel "unwelcome" at work.  

They wrote: "We do not say this lightly: The decision to readmit Chris Williamson MP into the Party will help to create an environment where Jewish and non-Jewish employees, who care deeply about fighting antisemitism, are made to feel unwelcome by his presence whilst at work."  

Mr Corbyn, who was today campaigning in Hartlepool, claimed he "wasn't involved in the decision at all" and insisted his party deals with antisemitism "very, very seriously".  

He said: "I wasn't involved in the decision at all, it was an independent panel set up through the National Executive, they examined the case and they've decided to let him back in, albeit with a reprimand.

"They went through the case, they interviewed him and they went through the case in great detail, and the three of them on the panel made that decision. 

"We deal with anti-Semitism very, very seriously, there is no place for anti-Semitism in our society and obviously not in our party as well.

"Anyone that makes anti-Semitic remarks can expect to be at the very least reprimanded and, if they are very serious and they engage in antisemitic activity, then they are expelled from the party." 

But Mr Corbyn's explanation was not welcomed by every Labour member. 

Wes Streeting, MP for Ilford North, retweeted his response and wrote: "This is handwringing nonsense." 

He later added in another tweet: "I have just reviewed this footage. What Jeremy Corbyn is saying is categorically untrue.

"The NEC panel did not, as he claimed, interview Chris Williamson. The staff may have done. The staff recommended referral to the NCC for further action. The NEC panel over-ruled them."

And, speaking about the letter from the 68 Labour staff members, he said: "Labour staff here showing more courage than some MPs and NEC members, especially the ones 'chuffed to bits' that a stitched up process led to this outcome."

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