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Row over Shami Chakrabarti's appointment as Labour peer

Published 05/08/2016

Shami Chakrabarti was recently made a Labour peer in the House of Lords
Shami Chakrabarti was recently made a Labour peer in the House of Lords

Jeremy Corbyn's decision to nominate the head of its anti-Semitism inquiry to the House of Lords has been met with fierce criticism from prominent Jews and Labour MPs.

Shami Chakrabarti, the former head of the campaign group Liberty, had faced questions over her independence in the investigation after she revealed she had joined the Labour Party.

And the Chief Rabbi has said her report's reputation now "lies in tatters" following her appointment to the Lords just a month after the inquiry reported back.

In a statement posted on Twitter, Ephraim Mirvis said: "Shami Chakrabarti has a proud record of public service, but in accepting this peerage, the credibility of her report lies in tatters and the Labour Party's stated intention, to unequivocally tackle anti-Semitism, remains woefully unrealised."

Wes Streeting, Labour MP for Ilford North, said: "Shami Chakrabarti will bring great experience to Lords. But let's not pretend that a Labour peerage in these circumstances doesn't stink."

Ms Chakrabarti led Liberty until earlier this year and has been one of the country's leading human rights campaigners for the last 15 years.

She was appointed to lead an independent inquiry into claims of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party following the suspension of MP Naz Shah and ex-London mayor Ken Livingstone.

The review found there was evidence of "ignorant attitudes" but said the "Labour Party is not overrun by anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, or other forms of racism".

The report was criticised by Board of Deputies president Jonathan Arkush as ''weak on the demonisation of Israel'' and for omitting "any mention of party figures who have displayed friendship towards terrorists''.

Commenting on the peerage, a spokesman for Mr Corbyn, said: "Shami Chakrabarti shares Jeremy's ambition for reform of the House of Lords.

"Her career has been one of public service and human rights advocacy. Her legal and campaigning skills, and the trust that she has gained from many ordinary Britons, will be a considerable asset to the House of Lords.

"Brexit will put many hard-fought rights at risk, so it is crucial that those equipped with the right skills are given the opportunity to hold this Government to account."

Ms Chakrabarti said: "I am honoured to accept Jeremy Corbyn's challenge and opportunity to help hold the Government to account. This is a dangerous moment for our country and we share vital human rights values that need defending more than ever before in my lifetime."

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