Chris Williamson MP update

JVL Introduction

An update on the campaign to save Chris Williamson MP from the unjust charges levelled against him, as reported in the local media

This article was originally published by DerbyshireLive on Wed 31 Jul 2019. Read the original here.

Widespread backing for Derby North MP Chris Williamson as he takes legal action

Two leading film directors and figures from the worlds of journalism and academia have pledged their support for Derby North MP Chris Williamson as he takes legal action over the way his suspension from Labour has been dealt with.

Mr Williamson was suspended from Labour in February accused of bringing it “into disrepute” following a controversial speech about anti-semitism issues plaguing the party.

His suspension was lifted by a sub-committee of the disputes panel of the Labour Party’s National Executive Committee on June 26.

But within two days, the panel’s decision was overturned and the case was sent to a full meeting of the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) on July 9.

That meeting sent the dispute back to another three-person sub committee of the disputes panel, which met last week and decided to refer Mr Williamson to the party’s highest disciplinary body, the National Constitutional Committee (NCC), which has the power of expulsion.

Kerry-Anne Mendoza, editor-in-chief of The Canary, who is one of the supporters of the Campaign for Chris Williamson, set up ahead of the NEC meeting, said: “The party’s decision to refer Chris Williamson to the NCC is a total subversion of due process.

“Chris’s suspension was lifted last month by a three-person disputes panel of the party’s ruling body. The party caved under pressure after two days of hostile media coverage organised by opponents of Jeremy Corbyn.

“It made a political decision to do away with its own procedures and reimpose the suspension, which is unprecedented in Labour’s history.

“The party may have acted unlawfully and against its own rule book, which is why Chris has been forced into legal action.  crowdfunder will be established soon in order to meet costs.”

Mr Williamson has been suspended for more than five months.

Ken Loach, who directed films such as Kes and Cathy Come Home, said: “Chris Williamson defended the party’s record against the ‘scourge of anti-semitism’.  At no point did he say that those guilty of antisemitism should not apologise. It is absurd that he was charged in the first place.

“He has now been cleared after due process, when all the evidence was examined and following independent legal advice.

“A group of Labour MPs and party grandees objected to this decision and, as a consequence, the party has re-opened the case. This is not justice, it’s bullying.”

Members of the Campaign for Chris Williamson, which also numbers Israeli and British academics, include: film director Mike Leigh, musicians Brian Eno and Roger Waters, journalist John Pilger, actor Miriam Margolyes and comedian Alexei Sayle.

In June, Mr Williamson spoke exclusively to Derbyshire Live to express how “incredibly hurtful” his suspension had been over what he said were “inaccurate accusations” – just hours after it was revealed that his suspension had been lifted and before he knew it was to be re-imposed.

He said: “Being subject to these grotesque accusations has been a very difficult time and really upsetting. The thing that has sustained me has been the support of people in Derby and all four nations of the United Kingdom.”

It is not known when Labour’s NNC will meet to discuss Mr Williamson’s future.

A Labour spokesman said: “All of the cases were referred back to the NEC by  (general secretary) Jennie Formby following an objection from one of the panel members.

“In line with party rules, the NEC referred every case to a new panel, not just Chris Williamson’s, and each case was treated the same.”

It is understood that Labour believes that it has acted in line with party rules and is confident that there are no grounds for a successful legal challenge.

Comments (14)

  • Liberty says:

    Thank you to everyone who is working so hard to get Chris and the others who have been Witch hunted out of the Labour Party to be reinstated as soon as possible. It’s incredibly SICKENING that Wally Watson is still the DISGUSTING Deputy of our party and in position to inflict so much damage along with Hodge Mann Elman Sneaky Smeeeeth and co. Stay strong everyone x

  • TP says:

    Incredibly exhausting and devastating that we have had to fightback against people who pretended they would help us but instead tried to burn down our house with us and our friends still inside it. It’s like ringing for the fire brigade and Witch Hunter Watson turns up with gasoline instead of water and with Madam Hodge holding the matches for him to finish us off. We will never let them destroy us, our ideals and support for the massacred Palestinians.

  • Lily says:

    I have been reading a brilliant book called The Anti Semitism’ Wars by a British Palestinian wtiter. The summary explains ‘in the summer of 2018 saw a crescendo in the campaign against antisemitism in the Labour Party, waged by a number of organisations claiming to represent British Jews. Their claims received extensive coverage in the media, which reported on demands for a particular definition of antisemitism, adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, to be used by the Labour Party and other organisations. In fact, in spite of almost unanimous support for these demands in print and broadcast media, the so-called `definition’ was, in the words of one leading QC “ineptly drafted”, described by a leading judge as “failing the first test of any definition: it is indefinite”, and called “McCarthyite” by the man who drafted it. This book shows how the Antisemitism Wars pose a major threat to free speech, particularly about Israel, but also how they can be used to deny critics of Israel and Zionism a platform for their other activities. It includes: * Commentary on the events of summer, 2018, by Karl Sabbagh * The full text of a critical opinion of the IHRA definition by Geoffrey Robertson Q.C. * A detailed report by the House of Lords into accusations of antisemitism by major Jewish organisations against a leading peer, dismissing all of them as unfounded. * Personal accounts by Tony Greenstein, Karl Sabbagh, Cyril Chilson and Thomas Suarez, of their encounters with Zionists and supporters of Israel who try to smear legitimate criticism as antisemitism. * Transcripts of the Al Jazeera undercover documentaries, The Lobby, revealing how Israel and its supporters infiltrate legitimate organisations in the UK, including parliament, to try to suppress criticism of Israel. * An investigation of the activities of the Campaign Against Antisemitism, showing how the data it produces about antisemitism in the UK, including in the Labour Party, are deeply flawed’

  • Mary Davies says:

    This McCarthyite witchhunt against decent, long-standing, committed anti-racists has got to stop.

  • Cyril Chilson says:

    If Chris Williamson ends up being expelled, this would be Labour’s new suicide note.
    It will surely be shorter than the 1983 manifesto, but much more effective this time around, I’m afraid.
    If Jeremy Corbyn thinks that throwing his closest supporters under the bus may please his sworn enemies he will soon find that he was riding a tiger all along and that particular tiger gets hungrier and hungrier.

  • Ellie Palmer says:

    Would be very happy to support Chris Williamson’s crowd funded challenge as soon as it is launched. Hope it goes viral (as they say )

  • Alasdair MacVarish says:

    Chris Williamson’s criticism was of the Labour Party not of any Jewish group or individual. However, with the likes of the vile Tom Watson and Margaret Hodge driving the anti-Semitism agenda, the party is panicking

  • Andrew Hornung says:

    Almost immediately after the suspension of Chris Williamson the word went round that it wasn’t what he said at the Momentum meeting that got him suspended it was “a pattern of behaviour”. Lord Falconer went on TV to refer to this alleged pattern, reeling off a list of accusations against Gilad Atzmon and pointed to Chris Williamson’s objection to the saxophonist’s being banned from performing as central to this “pattern”.
    The Guardian on Monday 1st July ran an article headlined “‘No place’ for MP at centre of storm”. The article, which displayed a complete abandonment of any journalistic standards, reported the views of three people who criticised Williamson (no views from supporters). The first accused him of “Jew baiting” but gave no examples, the second found Williamson unsympathetic to the complaint she had brought to him about her daughter being picked on because she was Jewish and the third felt Williamson was guilty of “rubbing people up the wrong way” and “saying silly things”. No mention of anti-semitism.
    Those watching Catch 22 on TV may need no reminding that the book this series is based on contains this exchange between Yossarian and Clevinger: “…’You haven’t got a chance kid,’ …’They hate Jews.’
    ‘But I’m not Jewish,’ answered Clevinger.
    ‘It will make no difference,’ Yossarian promised, and Yossarian was right.
    Would it not be shameful if we had to re-write this as “…’You haven’t got a chance Chris,’ …’They hate anti-Semites.’
    ‘But I’m not an anti-Semite,’ answered Chris.
    ‘It will make no difference,’ said his fellow socialsts, and they were right.

  • Simon Dewsbury says:

    Why is the Labour Party insisting on fighting this? Anyone who spends more than a couple of minutes looking at the facts in this case can see how weak the accusations against CW are. If they have a case it’s a technical procedural one, nothing to do with merits.

  • Judith Brown says:

    It seems to me that persons who are least racist and least likely to have antisemitic tendencies and fully support the current leadership are far more likely to be expelled. This is crazy.

  • Lesley Crompton says:

    Chris Williamson is one of the most loyal, hardworking, caring Labour MP’s we have and I don’t believe that he has an antisemitic bone in his body! I have heard Chris speak on three or four occasions and have nothing but respect for the man. His treatment has been shameful. I feel that he has sustained this vitriolic attack due to his loyalty and allegiance to Jeremy Corbyn. He has thousands and thousands of Labour Party members who admire and support him. Call off the hounds!

  • Paul Smith says:

    How do I donate?

    Go to our donate page. All donations much appreciated!

  • steve howard says:

    Only in dodgy corporations like the NHS do you normally get stitch ups of this nature. Having been suspended twice in my Career and in both instances re instated with no action taken I can assure anyone who reads about CW’s predicament that despite knowing you are innocent it is extremely stressful and damaging to ones health. Previous colleagues treat you with some suspicion that ‘there is no smoke without fire’ Your life is never quite the same again.

  • Teresa Steele says:

    I’ve listened to Chris Williamson speak on TV and on video, he did Video blogs on what he’d done that week at Westminster. If his pattern of behaviour is that he’s calling out suspect practice within the establishment, and supporting the Palestinian people, supports open selection, then I think that’s a brilliant pattern of behaviour.

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