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Camden Labour leaders respond to 'heartbreaking' BBC Panorama documentary about party's handling of antisemitism - but HQ defends its record

PUBLISHED: 18:49 12 July 2019 | UPDATED: 18:50 12 July 2019

Tulip Siddiq and Georgia Gould. Picture:  PA, Chris McAndrew/ Creative Commons

Tulip Siddiq and Georgia Gould. Picture: PA, Chris McAndrew/ Creative Commons

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Hampstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq and Camden Council leader Georgia Gould are among local Labour figures criticising the party's handling of antisemitism complaints in the wake of a "heartbreaking" Panorama investigation.

Ms Siddiq tweeted that it underlined "trust is at an all time low", while council leader Georgia Gould called it "heartbreaking".

The documentary looked at how complaints were handled by the party, and spoke to former staff members who had been made to sign non-disclosure agreements.

After the programme aired, Tulip Siddiq said: "I work closely with the Jewish community in H+K, and last night's Panorama underlined a simple fact reiterated to me time and again.

"Trust is at an all-time low, and extraordinary measures will be required to fix it. Truly independent disciplinary system would be a start."

She also promised to fight for the Jewish community in Parliament.

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Meanwhile, Cllr Gould tweeted: "Watching #Panorama was heartbreaking. Worse is seeing so many from my party blame & attack those who bravely spoke out.

"Members experiencing racism & staff pushed to mental health breakdown are the victims here. Labour should be standing up for them not legitimising more abuse."

Camden cabinet member Cllr Danny Beales also tweeted that he "genuinely felt sick watching" and said it was a problem he had seen and heard within the party. He added that "many cases are sat on" and "party officials have serious questions to answer".

But Labour's HQ has rebuffed some of the claims in the programme, describing it as "not a fair or balanced investigation".

"We completely reject any claim that Labour is antisemitic," the national party said in a statement. "We stand in solidarity with Jewish people, and we're taking decisive action to root out antisemitism from our movement and society.

"The Panorama programme was not a fair or balanced investigation. It was a seriously inaccurate, politically one-sided polemic, which breached basic journalistic standards. [...] It was an overtly biased intervention by the BBC in party political controversy."

The documentary aired the same evening a "highly offensive" document entitled "questions for the Jewish Labour Movement" was distributed at a meeting of Hampstead and Kilburn Constituency Labour Party's (CLP) executive committee. In response, Cllr Gould tweeted she was "deeply concerned", called it "persecutory material" and said the authors "don't speak for Camden Labour".

The CLP's vice-chair Rebecca Shirazi condemned the papers. She tweeted: "This material does not represent the view of our membership & was not part of the official literature. This material is highly offensive & should have never have been circulated."

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