The Metropolitan Police Service has informed Campaign Against Antisemitism that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) will only charge one of the Labour Party activists reported by Campaign Against Antisemitism over antisemitism.
The decision comes well over a year after Campaign Against Antisemitism’s Chief Executive, Gideon Falter, referred an 86-page secret internal Labour Party dossier of evidence to Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick live during a radio phone-in on LBC.
Mak Chishty, a former Commander in charge of hate crime at the Metropolitan Police Service, reviewed the dossier on air and found 45 cases of antisemitism in it, classifying seventeen cases as “race-hate incidents” which should have been reported to the police. According to Mr Chishty and Charlie Sherrard QC, a criminal barrister who works with Campaign Against Antisemitism, at least four further cases warranted criminal investigation. Mr Chishty said the incidents were “abhorrent” and described the language used as “absolutely horrible.”
The cases included:
- an activist who attacked a Jewish Labour MP as a “Zionist Extremist” who “hates civilized people” and was “about to get a good kicking” for spreading “Zionists propaganda”;
- an activist who posted an article containing Holocaust denial and antisemitic cartoons of Jews from a blog claiming to provide “intelligent antisemitism for the thinking gentile”;
- a Party member posting that “we shall rid the Jews who are a cancer on us all” and that “these Jewish f***ers are the devils”; and
- a party member accused of physically and verbally abusing a seven-year-old boy using racist epitaphs including “Paki” and “Jew-boy”.
Following the analysis of the dossier by Mr Chishty and Mr Sherrard, Dame Cressida Dick, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, joined LBC’s Nick Ferrari for a phone-in. Mr Falter called in and officially reported the dossier live on air to the Commissioner.
Officers at New Scotland Yard then visited Mr Falter and opened a criminal investigation.
On 8th January 2020, Commissioner Dick reappeared on LBC and disclosed that six arrests had been made in the case in early 2019 and five files were passed to the CPS in September 2019.
The Commissioner explained that these cases represent a “very complex crime type” and therefore it was difficult to anticipate when the CPS would make a decision on whether to charge the individuals, based on whether there is sufficient evidence and if charging the offenders would be in the public interest.
The CPS has commented at the time: “We’ve received a file of evidence [from the Metropolitan Police Service] in relation to antisemitic hate crimes. We are reviewing this material to consider further charging decisions.”
Later that day, Lord MacDonald QC, the former Director of Public Prosecutions, intervened to say that he believed the CPS had had sufficient time to review the cases and should announce its conclusions, and that the evidence suggests that crimes have indeed been committed. He opined that “these are allegations about the conduct of members of a major political party and so there is obviously a strong public interest in this being resolved, and resolved as quickly as possible.” Moreover, he noted that a long delay fuels “rumours” and “unease” and therefore that “safe conclusions are needed sooner rather than later.”
Lord MacDonald went on to say that “the sensitivity in these cases is that prosecutors have to balance two things: one is the suggestion that these messages, these posts may comprise incitement to racial hatred, or other hate crimes, on the one hand, and then on the other hand, free expression rights,” adding that this “can sometimes be a tricky analysis but I should have thought that three months is plenty of time to come to conclusions in this case.” He observed that “there is some very extreme material here,” concluding: “This is very extreme stuff, which I’d have thought is well capable of comprising a criminal offence. Speech has to be pretty extreme to amount to incitement to racial or religious hatred but some of this speech does look to be very extreme indeed.”
The Justice Secretary, Robert Buckland, also commented, saying: “the very fact we are talking about it on national radio, and the importance of this issue — antisemitism as you know is a serious issue not just because of itself but because it is a gateway to other types of prejudice in my view — I very much hope that everybody involved in the investigation will do it thoroughly. Obviously, it has to be looked at properly, but that it can be expedited.”
However the CPS has now confirmed that of the ten cases currently under consideration, five remain under consideration, one will be prosecuted, and four will be dropped.
Gideon Falter, Chief Executive of Campaign Against Antisemitism, said: “This case has received national media attention as part of one of the most explosive political issues of our time — anti-Jewish racism at the forefront of British politics. This is not complex. Labour activists posted extreme Jew-hatred on social media. The evidence is there in black and white. The evidence has been reviewed by the Commander formerly in charge of hate crimes at the Met and a former Director of Public Prosecutions. Yet the CPS dragged its feet for over a year, only now to conclude that it has charged just one solitary offender.
“This sad tale exemplifies why two thirds of British Jews have lost faith in the CPS, which simply cannot be relied upon to bring anti-Jewish racists to justice. When the CPS has failed to prosecute antisemites in the past we have successfully instigated private prosecutions and brought judicial review proceedings against the CPS. We had hoped that these measures would not be necessary every time antisemitic hate crimes come before the CPS, but yet again we find ourselves having to consider our options with our lawyers in order to deliver justice for the Jewish community, because the CPS has failed us.
“This unacceptable outcome shows that the CPS is not fit for purpose when it comes to prosecuting antisemitism. We therefore call for the CPS to treat antisemitic hate crime prosecutions as Special Crime, submitting junior prosecutors’ decisions to the scrutiny of more senior colleagues, and we urge the CPS to agree that its senior prosecutors receive training from Campaign Against Antisemitism and work with us to draft clear guidelines for prosecutors which link antisemitic acts to the corresponding offences, with worked examples for different kinds of antisemitic acts and evidential requirements. We have also sought a meeting with the Attorney General.”
On 28th May 2019, the Equality and Human Rights Commission launched a full statutory investigation into antisemitism in the Labour Party following a formal referral and detailed legal representations from Campaign Against Antisemitism, which is the complainant.
In the first release of its Antisemitism in Political Parties research, Campaign Against Antisemitism showed that Labour Party candidates for Parliament in the 2019 general election accounted for 82 percent of all incidents of antisemitic discourse by parliamentary candidates.
Campaign Against Antisemitism’s Antisemitism Barometer 2019 showed that antisemitism on the far-left of British politics has surpassed that of the far-right. The research also showed that 42% of British Jews have considered leaving the UK, of which 85% cited antisemitism in politics, and close to two thirds of British Jews believe that the authorities, in general, are not doing enough to address and punish antisemitism.
Campaign Against Antisemitism advocates for zero tolerance of antisemitism in public life, To that end we monitor all political parties and strive to ensure that any cases of concern are properly addressed.