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Corbyn: Many inaccuracies in Panorama probe into anti-Semitism in Labour

Jeremy Corbyn said the programme adopted a ‘pre-determined position’ before it was aired earlier this week.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and his wife, Laura Alvarez, on the balcony of the County Hotel during the Durham Miners’ Gala (Owen Humphreys/PA)
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and his wife, Laura Alvarez, on the balcony of the County Hotel during the Durham Miners’ Gala (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said there were “many, many, inaccuracies” in the BBC Panorama documentary about anti-Semitism in the party.

Mr Corbyn said the programme adopted a “pre-determined position” before it was aired earlier this week.

Speaking during a visit to the Durham Miners’ Gala, Mr Corbyn said: “I watched the programme and I felt there were many, many inaccuracies in the programme.

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Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks to the media during the Durham Miners’ Gala (Owen Humphreys/PA)

“The programme adopted a pre-determined position on its own website before it was broadcast.

“We’ve made very clear what our processes are.

“Our party members do have the right to be heard if they’re accused of anything and our party staff have a right to be supported and they are supported.”

A BBC spokesman said: “The BBC stands by its journalism and we completely reject any accusations of bias or dishonesty. The investigation was not pre-determined, it was driven by the evidence.

“The outcome shows the serious questions facing the Labour Party and its leadership on this issue. The programme adhered to the BBC’s editorial guidelines, including contacting the Labour Party in advance of the broadcast for a full right of reply.”

Mr Corbyn was asked whether he will publish Labour’s response to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) inquiry into allegations of anti-Semitism within the party but said the investigation had not happened yet.

The Labour leader said he will fully cooperate with the EHRC.

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Pipe bands and banners parade through Durham (Owen Humphreys/PA)

“Anti-Semitism is a poison, it is vile, it is wrong,” he said. “It is a poison in our society and any other society.”

He added: “It is not acceptable in any form.”

Mr Corbyn said anyone in the party who commits any act of anti-Semitism faces withdrawal of membership or expulsion and “that we have done”.

He said: “We investigate every case that comes up.

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Two boys look at a banner during the Durham Miners’ Gala (Owen Humphreys/PA)

“It’s less than 0.1% of our membership that have ever been involved in any accusation, never mind any resolution of the issue.”

He said: “We are processing them in a timely manner and I believe that anyone looking at our process will say actually this is a robust process and maybe we’ll invite other political parties to adopt the same diligence that we have adopted.”

Mr Corbyn was also asked whether he had turned his back on Labour-voting Brexit supporters in the north east of England.

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Mr Corbyn meets some of those in the crowd at the Durham Miners’ Gala (Owen Humphreys/PA)

He said he understood why people voted to leave but said a no-deal Brexit would threaten jobs in the region.

Mr Corbyn said his priority was to stop a no-deal Brexit, saying it was Boris Johnson’s agenda to sign a trade deal with the United States which would open up the NHS to American companies.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey drew the biggest cheer at the Miners’ Gala when he attacked Labour deputy leader Tom Watson in blunt language as he came to the defence of Jennie Formby.

Ms Formby, Labour’s general secretary, has been criticised since the Panorama documentary and Mr McCluskey said this would be wrong in normal circumstances – but is even worse given that she is fighting cancer.

He told thousands gathered in the rain on Durham Racecourse: “I have a simple message for Tom Watson and his pals in the media – a simple message to Tom and his pals: You should f****** well be ashamed of yourselves.

“Jennie, our message to you is that the Durham Miners’ Gala stands with you.”

In his speech to the gala, Mr Corbyn parodied the Tory leadership hustings, to the delight of the crowd.

He said: “There are two people that are parading around the country speaking to very small audiences, both of whom want to become the next prime minister.

“Now I don’t know how much stomach you’ve all got to examine their policies or watch their debates, but it goes something like this: ‘I want the job, you want the job; no it’s mine, no it’s yours; no, don’t be so mean to me, it’s mine; I’ve got it as a birthright, no, it’s my birthright; no, it’s mine, it’s mine, it’s mine.

“I really wonder about these people, actually.

“I think aptitude tests ought to take place.

“And then it gets serious when they start competing to the audience they have chosen about who is going to give most away in tax breaks at the top end. And who is funding their campaigns?”

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