Election 2019

General election 2019: Tories probe candidates over anti-Semitism claims

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson puts on goalkeeping gloves before a girls" soccer match during an election campaign event on December 7, 2019 in Cheadle Hulme, United Kingdom Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Boris Johnson "must answer" for anti-Semitism, Labour says

Three Conservative election candidates are being investigated over allegations of anti-Semitism, the party has confirmed.

Sally-Ann Hart, Richard Short and Lee Anderson are facing claims relating to their social media use.

Labour has called for the candidates to be suspended, adding that leader Boris Johnson "must answer for the anti-Semitism being promoted in his name".

A Conservative spokeswoman said abuse or discrimination of any kind is wrong.

Among those who are facing an investigation is Sally-Ann Hart, the Tory candidate in Hastings and Rye, which is ex-Home Secretary Amber Rudd's former seat.

Also being investigated is Richard Short, who is standing in St Helens South and Whiston, and Lee Anderson, who is running in Ashfield and Eastwood.

A Conservative Party spokeswoman said: "These matters are being investigated."

She added: "We are committed to stamping out the scourge of anti-Semitism in our society and supporting our Jewish community.

"Our complaints process is rightly a confidential one, but there are a wide range of sanctions to challenge and change behaviour, including conditions to undertake training, periods of suspension and expulsion, and these are applied on a case-by-case basis."

The probe comes after leader Mr Johnson previously told reporters that "if anybody is done for Islamophobia, or any other prejudice or discrimination in the Conservative Party they are out first bounce".

Andrew Gwynne, Labour's national campaign co-ordinator, said: "Boris Johnson said members who make racist comments are 'out first bounce'. So why is he refusing to suspend these three candidates, none of whom appear to have apologised?

"Johnson has never called out and condemned anti-Semitic Soros narratives among his supporters.

"On the contrary, the Conservatives whipped their MEPs to vote in support of the Hungarian government which peddles the Soros conspiracy and appointed a senior government adviser who promotes this narrative."

Mr Gwynne added: "Anti-Semitism is clearly rife in the Conservative Party from top to bottom.

"Johnson must answer for the anti-Semitism being promoted in his name."

Jewish multi-billionaire philanthropist George Soros, who has given away £32bn, has been the topic of numerous fake news stories and conspiracy theories, many of which are anti-Semitic.

Under electoral law, if a candidate is suspended after nominations close, they will still appear on the ballot paper and affiliated to that party.

Mr Johnson has previously apologised for the "hurt and offence" that has been caused by Islamophobia in the Tory Party.

Meanwhile, Labour has been beset by allegations of anti-Semitism for more than three years, leading to the suspension of a number of high-profile figures such as Ken Livingstone and Chris Williamson, and an unprecedented investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Mr Corbyn has apologised for incidents of anti-Semitism in Labour on several occasions and said anti-Jewish racism was "vile and wrong".

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