Dr Rupa Huq, the Labour MP for Ealing Central and Acton, has reportedly been accused of antisemitism by two of her former employees who have lodged formal complaints with the Party. Dr Huq, who has held her seat since 2015, denied what she called “false and malicious” allegations.
According to the report in The Times, the Labour Party is understood to have asked its Parliamentary whips to speak to Dr Huq and look into the claims before deciding whether to begin a full investigation.
The two employees worked at Dr Huq’s Westminster office until this year. The first complainant who has a Jewish heritage and worked for Dr Huq for 11 months, sent a dossier of more than 2,500 words to Labour the week before last, detailing alleged antisemitic incidents in her office.
According to The Times, the complaint alleged that on just the complainant’s second day, their relationship with Dr Huq began to deteriorate. He had three badges on his bag, including a Star of David, a symbol commonly associated with Judaism and the Jewish People. He alleged that Dr Huq asked him: “Why do you have the flag of Israel on your bag?” Thinking that it was just an innocuous mistake, he corrected her that it was not in fact the Israeli flag. However, he claimed that she repeatedly asked the same question throughout the day. It is understood that Dr Huq only recalled asking the question once.
Later that month, Dr Huq, who completed a PhD in cultural studies thesis on youth culture at the University of East London, allegedly accused him of writing a policy paper on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that was too pro-Israel. She then reportedly “banned” him from working on policy responses, which the complainant felt was related to the Star of David on his bag incident. Furthermore, a source close to Dr Huq alleged that a constituent expressed concern about an e-mail that the complainant sent on Dr Huq’s behalf in response to the situation in Gaza.
Last June, the complainant said that Dr Huq, without informing her staff, attended an event run by the APC, a Palestinian community group. Afterwards, she reportedly asked her staff to find photographs of her at the event. While searching, they found an image posted recently by APC, which apparently showed a man in front of a gun with Arabic text as a caption. They got it translated and discovered that it meant: “Ahmad Nassar Jarrar, hero in our land.” Mr Jarrar had been accused earlier last year of masterminding the murder of a rabbi.
When Dr Huq’s staff expressed concern, she reportedly responded: “No, no they are just a pro-Palestine group.” A source close to Dr Huq, however, told the newspaper that she was actually “sickened” by the image and never attended an APC event again.
The Times reported that it had seen an e-mail, that was found by the complainant, from Dr Huq’s parliamentary account to another staffer about a Jewish student who had applied for a role. Dr Huq invoked the student’s Jewish background and wrote: “Will have to say no but don’t want him to claim antisemitism.” She is understood to still have a good relationship with the applicant, who was not privy to the e-mails.
The same questions were generally asked by Dr Huq when she interviewed candidates for staffing positions. However, according to the claimant, in September she reportedly “devised a whole separate line of questioning based on Judaism and loyalty to Israel for one of the candidates.” Dr Huq is understood to explain the questioning to that Jewish applicant having a master’s degree in Middle Eastern studies.
The Times reported that the second complainant stated that Dr Huq had made one former employee “listen to her conspiracy theories surrounding the Jewish community.” A source close to Dr Huq denied this to the newspaper and said she “has no recollection of this whatsoever and rejects the allegation that it happened.” The second complainant said that when the first was on sick leave, Dr Huq took a “no tolerance for antisemitism” poster and threw it on the floor and said: “Well, we obviously don’t need this any more.” Again, Dr Huq is understood to have no recollection of saying this.
A spokeswoman for Dr Huq told The Times: “We don’t comment on staffing matters. Any suggestion that Rupa is antisemitic or has acted inappropriately is entirely false and malicious.” The Labour Party’s response simply said: “We take all complaints seriously and they are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures.”
On 28th May, the Equality and Human Rights Commission launched a full statutory investigation following a formal referral and detailed legal representations from Campaign Against Antisemitism, which is the complainant.
In recent months, eleven MPs have resigned from the Labour Party over antisemitism, along with a large number of MEPs, councillors and members.
Over 55,000 people have now signed our petition denouncing Jeremy Corbyn as an antisemite and declaring him “unfit to hold any public office.”