Labour leadership wants to ‘rid’ party of Jeremy Corbyn critics, says Margaret Hodge

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Dame Margaret Hodge has accused the Labour leadership of attempting to get rid of those critical towards Jeremy Corbyn amid a row over the party’s handling of antisemitism.

Her remarks came after a disciplinary probe into the veteran Labour MP – for confronting Jeremy Corbyn and alleging he was an “antisemite and racist” – was dropped on Monday, with no further action being taken.

In an interview with the Evening Standard published today, Dame Margaret also called for a “nonsense” investigation into a second Labour MP, Ian Austin, to be dropped as she claimed the party had become a “hostile environment for Jews”.

Lawyers representing Mr Austin on Tuesday described the investigation into his behaviour as a “farce and disgrace” and said the party had “failed to observe the most rudimentary principles of natural justice”.

“It has plainly been designed to silence our client for his legitimate, honestly held criticisms of Mr Corbyn’s failure to address the scourge of antisemitism in the Labour Party,” they said.

Asked by the newspaper whether she believed there was a “purge” of critics of the Labour leadership, Dame Margaret replied: “I have absolutely no doubt that there are those in the leadership who want to get rid, whether it is through deselection or disciplinary action, of any opposition.”

“The new style of politics is bullying and intolerance, not gentle and inclusive,” she added.

On Monday, Labour’s general secretary, Jennie Formby, wrote to the senior Labour MP ending the inquiry into alleged abusive behaviour.

But a row erupted after it was briefed that Dame Margaret had “expressed regret” to the chief whip Nick Brown – a claim her lawyers have vehemently rejected.

In a letter from her lawyers Mishcon de Reya, posted on Twitter by Dame Margaret, the firm accused Ms Formby of an “entirely disingenuous” attempt to save face over the party’s climbdown. Her lawyers said it was more than two weeks since Dame Margaret had spoken to Mr Brown about the matter and that they had had no further discussions since.

“She did not express regret – in those or any other words,” the letter said. “As you are aware, our client will not apologise for her conduct and words, as she did nothing wrong.

“You have entirely misrepresented our client’s discussions with the opposition chief whip in a cynical attempt to save face in your necessary climbdown.”

Labour declined to comment on Dame Margaret’s remarks.


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