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Labour in fresh anti-Semitism row over speaker's Holocaust denial comments

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 26/09/2017 Jonathan Mitchell

© Provided by Independent Print Limited Labour has become embroiled in a fresh anti-Semitism row after a speaker at its conference reportedly said freedom of speech should extend to Holocaust denial.

Israeli-American author Miko Peled is said to have told party members at a fringe event they have the freedom to “discuss every issue, whether it’s the holocaust, yes or no.”

Activists also reportedly cheered at the meeting as one speaker suggested Jewish and pro-Israel groups should be expelled by the party.

Related: Jewish community on Labour anti-Semitism claims (Provided by:Sky News)

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Senior Labour figures have condemned Mr Peled for the comments, with Deputy Leader Tom Watson saying he should be expelled if a member of the party.

Mr Peled quoted as saying: “This is about free speech, the freedom to criticise and to discuss every issue, whether it’s the Holocaust: yes or no, Palestine, the liberation, the whole spectrum. There should be no limits on the discussion.”

Labour has been rocked by a series of allegations of anti-Semitism in recent years, with former London Mayor Ken Livingstone suspended from the party after claiming Adolf Hitler supported Zionism last year.

dianeabbottbrighton.jpg © Provided by Independent Print Limited dianeabbottbrighton.jpg Mr Watson has said the party will investigate how Mr Peled was given a platform at the fringe event.

He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “It is nothing to do with the official Labour party conference. And if there was Holocaust denial there, these people have no right to be in the Labour party, and if they are they should be expelled.”

The party is also facing accusations members have bombarded BBC journalist Laura Kuenssberg with vile abuse online during this week’s conference in Brighton.

The corporation's political editor was assigned a bodyguard for the Labour conference after an 18-month campaign of abuse by online critics.

Ms Kuenssberg has also been yelled at by crowds as she interviewed Mr Corbyn on Labour’s performance and political stance.

Shadow Home Secretary Dianne Abbot has called on party member to end the vile abuse.

A Labour Party spokeswoman said: “Labour condemns anti-Semitism in the strongest possible terms and our NEC unanimously passed tough new rule changes last week.

“All groupings in the party should treat one another with respect. We will not tolerate anti-Semitism or holocaust denial.”

The spokeswoman added the party is not responsible for the content of speakers at fringe events.

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