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Board of Deputies sends complaint to The Guardian about Chris Williamson letter

July 9, 2019 - Board of Deputies - Share: Twitter Facebook

The Board of Deputies has sent a complaint to the Guardian  following the publication of a letter in the paper purporting to be written by “prominent members of the Jewish community in the UK and abroad”.

The Guardian was misleading and inaccurate in its description of the signatories, some have been suspended or expelled from the Labour Party and one of whom has called for Zionists to be exterminated. Some of the signatories do not represent the organisations they claim to (for example Hope Not Hate) and many other names are completely unknown and unverified, certainly not “prominent members of the Jewish community”.

The Guardian has a duty to conduct due-diligence on the signatories of letters it publishes, especially on one relating to such a serious issue as racism. In this case, the inclusion of racist signatories ought to have stopped the publication of the letter.

The complaint is published below in full.

We wish to make a complaint under Section 1(i) of the Guardian News and Media Editorial Code:  “The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures.”

The Guardian has printed a letter today with the headline “Jewish support for Chris Williamson”, and the sub-heading  – in the online edition – “Prominent members of the Jewish community, in the UK and abroad, write to defend the Labour MP Chris Williamson amid allegations of antisemitism”.

To describe the signatories of this letter as “prominent members of the Jewish community” is inaccurate and misleading.

Many of the signatories are themselves implicated in allegations of antisemitism, and some have been suspended or expelled from the Labour Party, for example Jackie Walker, Sally Eason and Tony Greenstein. One such signatory – Michael Morgan, suspended from the Labour Party in 2016 – has called for Zionists to be exterminated, stated that “Rothschild funded” various wars, and claims that the Jews killed Jesus.

One signatory – Meredith Wood-Bevan – claims to represent the anti-racist organisation Hope Not Hate.  Hope Not Hate themselves have complained that they have no knowledge of this person, and certainly did not authorise her to sign on their behalf.

Another signatory – Peter Sheridan – claims to represent the Jewish Labour Movement, despite the Jewish Labour Movement being categorical in its opposition to Chris Williamson’s readmission to the Labour Party.

Many other names are completely unknown and unverified, certainly not “prominent members of the Jewish community”.

We wish to make two specific complaints:

First, the Guardian has a duty to conduct due-diligence on the signatories of letters it publishes, especially on one relating to such a serious issue as racism. In this case, the inclusion of racist signatories ought to have stopped the publication of the letter.

Second, should it choose to publish such a letter, the Guardian has a duty to describe it accurately. To describe the signatories of this letter as “prominent members of the Jewish community” is inaccurate and misleading.

  

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