Margaret Hodge refuses to apologise to Corbyn after inquiry dropped

Labour has dropped its inquiry into Dame Margaret Hodge (Yui Mok/PA) Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Labour has dropped its inquiry into senior MP Dame Margaret Hodge despite her refusal to apologise to for allegedly shouting at Jeremy Corbyn over anti-Semitism in the party.

Dame Margaret said she was “pleased” after general secretary Jennie Formby wrote to inform her she would face no further action for her alleged “abusive behaviour”.

But after journalists were briefed the decision had been taken after she expressed “regret” to Labour chief whip Nick Brown for the way she raised her views, Dame Margaret hit back insisting she had said no such thing.

The investigation into her conduct followed a heated exchange last month in which she was said to have called Mr Corbyn and an “anti-Semite” and a “racist” over his refusal to adopt in full the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism.

In a letter from her lawyers Mishcon de Reya, posted on social media by Dame Margaret, they accused Ms Formby of misrepresenting her position in a “cynical attempt to save face in your necessary climbdown”.

The letter said it was over two weeks since Dame Margaret had spoken to Mr Brown about the matter and that they had had no further discussions since.

“She did not express regret – in those or any other words,” the letter said.

“As you are aware, our client will not apologise for her conduct and words, as she did nothing wrong.

“You have entirely misrepresented our client’s discussions with the opposition chief whip in a cynical attempt to save face in your necessary climbdown.”

Gideon Falter, of the Campaign Against Antisemitism, said the decision to drop the inquiry against her was a “humiliating capitulation” by the party.

“The entire Jewish community was disgusted by the way that Dame Margaret was victimised simply for confronting anti-Semitism in the Labour Party,” he said.

“We applaud her for standing up against anti-Semitism in the party and for refusing to bow to the considerable pressure put on her to apologise.”

The decision to drop the inquiry comes after deputy leader Tom Watson called for the investigations into Dame Margaret and a second Labour MP Ian Austin – who clashed with party chairman Ian Lavery over the issue – to be abandoned.

His comments, warning the party faced a “vortex of eternal shame” unless it tackled anti-Semitism within its ranks, prompted a furious Twitter campaign to oust him under the hashtag #ResignWatson.

Earlier the party confirmed George McManus, a member of Labour’s national policy forum, had been suspended following a Facebook posting referring to Mr Watson and “Jewish donors” and comparing him to Judas.

Mr McManus subsequently removed the comments and apologised to Mr Watson and the Jewish community.

Writing on his Facebook page, Mr McManus said Mr Watson had received “£50,000+ from Jewish donors”, adding: “At least Judas only got 30 pieces of silver”.

His comments were condemned by Labour backbencher Wes Streeting who called them a “100% a classic antisemitic trope”.

After deleting the original remarks, Mr McManus wrote: “I’d like to apologise to Tom Watson and to the Jewish community for my drawing an analogy between him accepting money from Jewish donors and the biblical story of the betrayal by Judas.

“I fully accept that such an analogy is wrong and am sorry for making the comparison.”

A Labour Party spokesman said: “The Labour Party takes all complaints of anti-Semitism extremely seriously and we are committed to challenging and campaigning against it in all its forms.

“Complaints about anti-Semitism are always fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures and any appropriate disciplinary action is taken.”