Labour suspends 14 members including Peterborough councillors over alleged antisemitism

Labour has suspended 14 members, including several of its councillors in Peterborough, over alleged antisemitism.

Wednesday, 28th April 2021, 3:47 pm

Seven of the party’s councillors have had the whip removed just a few weeks after two more of its representatives were suspended.

The revelations come in the same week that antisemitism allegations have been levelled at the Conservatives, with the Jewish Leadership Council noting that: “There seems to be a specific and identifiable problem of anti-Jewish racism in both main political parties in Peterborough – this needs to be stamped out.”

The latest Labour suspensions were revealed by Jewish News and have since been confirmed to the Peterborough Telegraph.

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Suspended Labour councillors (clockwise from top left): Angus Ellis, Ansar Ali, Aasiyah Joseph, Shabina Qayyum, Mohammed Jamil, Samantha Hemraj and Mahboob Hussain

Those suspended while the party investigates alleged antisemitism are: Cllrs Ansar Ali (North ward), Angus Ellis (Bretton), Samantha Hemraj (East), Mahboob Hussain (Central), Shabina Qayyum (East), Aasiyah Joseph (Park) and Mohammed Jamil (Central).

Four members in Peterborough - Richard Strangward, Alan Gasparutti and Colin and Linda Watson - are also said to have been suspended, as well as Janet Armstrong and Jonathan Orchard from the North West Cambridgeshire constituency party.

Cllr Ellis and Mr Strangward (West) are both candidates for the city council elections on May 6 where Labour is hoping to end more than 20 years of Conservative rule.

A Labour Party spokesperson said: “The Labour Party takes all complaints of antisemitism extremely seriously and they are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures and any appropriate disciplinary action is taken.

“We are determined to root out all forms of antisemitism from our party and it is testament to our commitment to zero tolerance that we will not be influenced by an election timetable.”

The Peterborough Telegraph has attempted to contact the suspended councillors to ask if they wish to comment.

As revealed by the Peterborough Telegraph, Labour recently suspended Cllrs Ed Murphy (Ravensthorpe) and Heather Skibsted (Orton Longueville) while it investigates complaints made against the pair, although the nature of the complaints were not revealed.

That means in total, nine of the party’s 17 councillors have been administratively suspended in the past month.

Leader of the council’s Labour group, Cllr Shaz Nawaz, declined to comment when approached by the PT.

Peterborough Labour has in recent years had issues with antisemitism after it previously selected a council election candidate - Alan Bull - despite allegedly knowing he had been accused of denying the Holocaust.

Mr Bull has always denied being antisemitic and has called on the Labour Party to “correct the record and apologise for misrepresenting my character and causing considerable distress to my family and me”.

Moreover, former Labour MP Lisa Forbes, who is standing in Fletton & Woodston in next week’s elections, apologised after she liked a post on Facebook which described Theresa May keeping her “Zionist Slave Masters agenda alive”.

Ms Forbes said at the time she had liked the video accompanying the post, which was of children playing, and had not read the text.

Two former Labour city councillors, Matthew Mahabadi and Richard Ferris, resigned in 2018 in part, they alleged, to being bullied for speaking out against antisemitism in the party.

The PT also revealed this week alleged antisemitic posts from sitting Conservative councillor Mohammed Nadeem (North) and two former party candidates (Muhammad Ikram and Haq Nawaz) which were criticised by the Jewish Leadership Council.