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Marc Wadsworth to sue Labour Party for race discrimination

LANDMARK LEGAL ACTION: Campaigner Marc Wadsworth

VETERAN ANTI-racist campaigner Marc Wadsworth has launched his long-awaited legal action against Labour, which expelled him last year for allegedly “bringing the party into disrepute”.

He is suing the party for race discrimination and breach of contract.

This is the first high-profile case tackling what some party activists have claimed is anti-black Labour racism.

Wadsworth said it was with regret that he had made the move because of the party’s refusal to meet with them to discuss his case.

He told The Voice: "I've been a strong anti-racism campaigner my whole life and I strongly refute any suggestion that I acted in a way that is anti-semitic or made anti-semitic remarks. In fact I count a number of leading Jewish members of the Labour Party among my strongest supporters. They are among the people who gave evidence in my defence at my disciplinary hearing."

EXPELLED

His expulsion from the party has been widely condemned as a miscarriage of justice by his supporters who include leading black Labour MPs such as Clive Lewis.

The veteran activist was expelled from the party in April last year after challenging Stoke-on-Trent North MP Ruth Smeeth who he claimed he saw working “hand in hand” with the Daily Telegraph at the launch of Labour’s Chakrabarti report into anti-semitism and all forms of racism.

Smeeth alleged that Wadsworth’s challenge to her was an anti-semitic reference about supposed Jewish control of the press.

At the same launch event he raised the under-representation of black people in Labour decision-making positions.

However Wadsworth was generally portrayed in the mainstream media as “antisemitic”.

He said subsequently that he did not know Smeeth was Jewish and complained to newspapers and broadcasters about their coverage of his case, which has been criticised by independent campaign group Media Reform Coalition.

RELATIONSHIPS

Speaking in support of Wadsworth shadow cabinet minister Clive Lewis MP said: “Political witch-hunts targeting allies of Jeremy Corbyn must not be allowed to “poison relationships between the black, Asian and Jewish communities”.

According to the Norwich South MP Wadsworth had merely been making a political point about right-wing MPs working with right-wing newspapers.

“It was not an anti-semitic trope. It was a political observation,” he said.
Lewis added he was proud to stand with Wadsworth in his battle to be reinstated as a member of the Labour Party, having known and campaigned with him for decades.

ANTI SEMITISM CLAIM: Labour MPs Ruth Smeeth (second left), Luciana Berger (centre) and Jess Philllips (second right) at a demonstration outside the Labour party disciplinary hearing for Marc Wadsworth in London last year

“I would like to see Jeremy Corbyn come out fighting on this issue” Lewis said.

The party itself has since admitted the process used to discipline Wadsworth in 2016 was not fit for purpose and has drawn up plans to overhaul it.

Jeremy Corbyn’s main ally shadow chancellor John McDonnell has said cases like Wadsworth’s should have a “right of review”.

TOUR

Since the launch of a national speaking tour in a bid to clear his name Wadsworth’s supporters have helped raise £30,000 to help pay the legal fees for his case.

Wadsworth came to prominence as a campaigner after helping Doreen and Neville Lawrence, the parents of murdered black teenager Stephen set up their Justice for Stephen Lawrence campaign in 1993.

He also introduced them to Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, which put the campaign to bring Stephen’s killers to justice into the international spotlight.

The activist also founded the Anti-Racist Alliance in 1991.

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