Wales politics

Welsh Labour MP's sadness over anti-Semitism claims

Owen Smith and Jeremy Corbyn Image copyright PA
Image caption Owen Smith and Jeremy Corbyn went head to head in the 2016 Labour leadership contest

A Welsh Labour MP has expressed sadness over claims some of Jeremy Corbyn's closest allies tried to interfere in disciplinary processes involving allegations of anti-Semitism.

Pontypridd MP Owen Smith is among those who spoke out following accusations made in Wednesday's BBC Panorama documentary.

Mr Smith told BBC Wales he was "sad and ashamed" by the claims.

Labour has insisted the programme was inaccurate and denied any interference.

Labour's disputes team is supposed to operate independently from the party's political structures, including the leader's office.

BBC Panorama spoke to former party officials, who alleged they had to deal with a huge increase in anti-Semitism complaints since Mr Corbyn became Labour leader in 2015.

Labour described the programme as "seriously inaccurate" and "politically one-sided". It has insisted the former staff making the claims were "disaffected".

But Mr Smith, who stood against Mr Corbyn for the party leadership, said those who had come forward to the BBC had been "brave and honourable".

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Media captionJewish Labour Party members told the BBC’s Panorama about their experiences of anti-Semitism in the party

Speaking on BBC Radio Wales' Breakfast programme, he added: "The thing that was most rotten about the response to [the claims] was to try and rubbish their reputation, simply saying they were politically motivated and disaffected staff, as opposed to young men and women who've spoken out very bravely and honourably about what is clearly an awful situation.

"What was shocking to see was how awful this has been for the staff dealing with the problem and how personally affecting it has been.

"We know there's a massive backlog in dealing with complaints and we know there has been interference from the leader's officer and his closest allies in dealing with those people.

"The whole episode makes me feel sad and ashamed.

"Jeremy has been open and honest about it but publicly we are still wringing our hands while privately not believing it's as big a problem as it is and booting people out of the party. That double standard stinks."

In May, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) launched a formal investigation to look into whether Labour has "unlawfully discriminated against, harassed or victimised people because they are Jewish".

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