(JTA) — Police in the London area initiated a criminal investigation into allegations of anti-Semitic hate speech within the Labour Party.
The probe is a significant development because until now, hate speech within Labour had been handled mostly internally or, in rare occasions, by broader ethics panels.
Cressida Dick, a senior police officer, told the BBC that her officers were assessing online material because it appears “there may have been a crime committed,” the broadcasting service reported Friday.
LBC Radio obtained internal Labour document detailing 45 cases of alleged hate speech by party members on social media, BBC reported.
Police, Ditck said, are “not investigating” the Labour Party itself, but rather the conduct of some individuals purported to be members.
LBC gave Dick the information in September, it said.
Mak Chishty, a former police officer who also received the 45 cases from LBC, said that 17 instances should have been reported to the police as suspected hate speech and that another four were potential race hate crimes, BBC reported.
The material included threats against lawmakers including a message on Facebook that a female Labour member of the House of Commons was a “Zionist extremist…who hates civilized people” and is “about to get a good kicking,” according to LBC.
The Board of Deputies of British Jews has long maintained that Labour under Jeremy Corbyn, a far-left politician who has called Hamas and Hezbollah his friends and who has said that Zionists who were born in Britain have trouble understanding British irony, has an anti-Semitism problem that the party is not doing enough to treat.
Following the police probe, Board of Deputies Vice President Amanda Bowman said that the escalation of the scrutiny “comes as no surprise” because there is a “deeply-embedded culture of antisemitism in parts of the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn has done close to nothing to address it, to the extent that some cases may now even meet a criminal threshold.”
Corbyn has vowed to punish anyone from Labour caught making anti-Semitic statements and has called anti-Semitism unacceptable many times publicly.