ANDREW PIERCE: Just look who’s judging what’s anti-Semitic
ANDREW PIERCE: Just look who’s judging what’s anti-Semitic… a Corbyn ally accused of libel by Countdown’s Rachel Riley, that’s who!
Most sensible organisations would not appoint to an anti-Semitism complaints investigation team someone who herself is being sued for libel by an anti-Semitism campaigner.
But then Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party is not a sensible organisation.
No wonder Labour MP Dame Louise Ellman has said that the appointment of Laura Murray – who is Corbyn’s ‘stakeholder manager’ (whatever that means) – ‘puts a major question mark on whether the people running this organisation understand the concerns’.
Laura Murray (pictured above with the Labour leader) is a fellow member of the Hampstead branch. And like Gardiner and his wife, she is close to Corbyn, not least because her father is one of his advisers. Andrew Murray, a Communist for 40 years, joined Labour when Corbyn became leader in 2015
Dame Louise was challenging whether the secondment of 30-year-old Ms Murray (the daughter of one of Corbyn’s gurus) to the ‘National Complaints’ team, was appropriate given that she’s been accused of libel by Countdown’s Rachel Riley.
What’s more, Ms Murray reports directly to Thomas Gardiner, a lawyer and councillor, who is the Party’s ‘witchfinder general’ in charge of investigating the enormous backlog of anti-Semitism complaints.
There was talk, too, when Gardiner was appointed last year, if he was right for the job. In 2016, he tabled a motion in his local party arguing Labour’s anti-Semitism problem had been ‘over-stated’.
And those concerns have returned to haunt Labour. Not least over the decision Gardiner took last year involving activist Kayla Bibby. She posted an image on Facebook of an alien – with the Star of David on its back – plastered over the Statue of Liberty.
Ms Bibby, 33, added: ‘The most accurate photo I’ve seen all year!’ She also posted an image of presidents George W Bush and George Bush senior with the words: ‘100 per cent Jew Tools’.
A junior official who reports to Gardiner argued that Ms Bibby should be suspended. Gardiner, however, disagreed.
She was let off with a warning and attended last year’s party conference. It was only after an objection – again from the Jewish MP Dame Louise Ellman – that Ms Bibby was suspended.
Gardiner, who is married to an economics adviser to Corbyn, Maryam Eslamdoust, is a member of Hampstead and Kilburn Labour Party, which has blocked some of its Jewish members from debating anti-Semitism.
Laura Murray is a fellow member of the Hampstead branch. And like Gardiner and his wife, she is close to Corbyn, not least because her father is one of his advisers.
Andrew Murray, a Communist for 40 years, joined Labour when Corbyn became leader in 2015.
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Many of Labour’s critics believe the row over Ms Murray and her alleged attack on Rachel Riley is symbolic of how allegations of anti-Semitism in Labour have, at best, been dealt with cack-handedly. The row erupted on Sunday when an egg was thrown at Corbyn while he was visiting a mosque.
Ms Murray tweeted: ‘Today Jeremy Corbyn went to his local mosque for Visit My Mosque Day, and was attacked by a Brexiteer. Rachel Riley tweets that Corbyn deserves to be violently attacked because he is a Nazi. This woman is as dangerous as she is stupid. Nobody should engage with her. Ever.’
In fact what Ms Riley had done was retweet a Corbyn supporter’s observation that throwing eggs at Nazis was ‘sound life advice’.
This appears to have been based on her highlighting a comment from activist Owen Jones in which he said ‘if you don’t want eggs thrown at you don’t be a Nazi’. (He was referring to ex-BNP leader Nick Griffin.)
Ms Riley responded to Ms Murray’s comment by saying it was an ‘appalling distortion of the truth’, adding: ‘The same woman who called me dangerous and stupid for talking about anti-Semitism yesterday? What seriously? Is that how she got the job?! Can’t be true…?!’
She has instructed lawyer Mark Lewis to pursue a libel claim against Ms Murray. Which makes it all the more bizarre that on Monday Labour confirmed Ms Murray was being drafted in to help with the backlog of complaints.
Most sensible organisations would not appoint to an anti-Semitism complaints investigation team someone who herself is being sued for libel by an anti-Semitism campaigner. But then Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party is not a sensible organisation [File photo]
Ms Murray certainly feels at home in Corbyn’s Labour. Shortly before she deleted her entire Twitter feed this week, she revealed an insight into her view of the world – tweeting her support for Fidel Castro.
And on her Instagram account, there’s a picture of her under a poster of Lenin.Her father, who works for union baron Len McCluskey, would approve. A defender of Stalin, two years ago he spoke at an event to celebrate the centenary of the Russian Revolution.
Since her move to the complaints investigation team, it’s been revealed that Ms Murray opposed the suspension of a female Labour member who said an anti-Semitic mural in London, showing hook-nosed men sitting around a Monopoly board on the backs of slaves, was ‘great’.
With a degree in Politics, Philosophy and History from Birkbeck College, London, Ms Murray is passionate about politics. She is a long-standing critic of Israel and supporter of Palestine – views which many feel should disqualify her from being seconded to the complaints unit.
In her defence, she’s written: ‘I’ve campaigned for Palestine my entire adult life and know that censorship of free speech on Israel is a very real and dangerous thing.’
It remains to be seen if her actions match her words.
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