An aide to Jeremy Corbyn tried to block the suspension of an activist later arrested on suspicion of anti-Semitism offences, it was claimed today.
The Sunday Times reported Patricia Sheerin, 72, was among three people questioned by officers earlier this month ‘publishing or distributing material likely to stir up racial hatred’.
The paper published details of emails sent by Corbyn aide Laura Murray in March last year in response to questions from Labour HQ about suspending Ms Sheerin.
Details of emails sent by Corbyn aide Laura Murray (pictured with Jeremy Corbyn) in March last year in response to questions from Labour HQ about suspending Patricia Sheerin
Party officials recommended a suspension of Ms Sheerin over allegedly anti-Semitic posts online.
In an email sent on March 23 2018, Murray said: ‘Could we please see evidence from the report?’
Three days later, Murray responded further: ‘LOTO [Leader of the Opposition] recommendations are that … you investigate but without suspension, as although her tweets are drawing upon conspiracy theories, they are about Israel and no mention of Jews or Jewishness etc.’
Other senior aides to Mr Corbyn – including his communications director Seumas Milne and his office manager Karie Murphy – were copied into the exchange, as was Jennie Formby, who was about to be appointed party general secretary.
The recommendation from Ms Murray led to Ms Sheerin being placed under investigation but not suspended from Labour.
She was later suspended and voluntarily resigned from the party over a separate complaint, the Sunday Times said.
Labour said Jennie Formby stopped consultations with Mr Corbyn’s office over anti-Semitism when she took over as general secretary last April
A Labour spokesman said: ‘Party staff in the leader’s office did not attempt to intervene in any cases and did not overrule suspension.
‘They gave their suggestions when asked, which was to suspend in every other case, and when Jennie Formby became general secretary she stopped this advice being sought.
‘The material that was sent to the leader’s office is different from the material that went to NEC in July, and different from the material that may have been reviewed by the police.
‘There is therefore no comparison to be drawn between these emails and later action taken by the party and possibly the police against this individual, which was on the basis of more serious material.’
Ms Sheerin declined to comment when contacted by the Sunday Times.