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Official complaint received about Fife councillor’s “anti-Semitic” comments

Mary Lockhart.
Mary Lockhart.

Scottish Labour has received a formal complaint about one of its councillors after she became embroiled in a row over anti-Semitism.

Former Dunfermline and West Fife MP Thomas Docherty has written to Brian Roy, general secretary of the Scottish Labour Party, claiming a post on Fife councillor Mary Lockhart’s Facebook page was “clearly an anti-Semitic smear”.

In his letter Mr Docherty hit out at the party, saying he was disappointed it had refused to take action unless it received an official complaint.

“In my 26 years as a party member I have never before seen a party response that says in effect ‘unless someone complains, we will take no action against racist or anti-Semitic behaviour’,” he said.

“I would be grateful if you could not only regard this as the formal complaint needed to apparently start the disciplinary process, but set out for me why the Scottish Labour Party has adopted this new approach.”

Ms Lockhart has not been available to comment on her post which attacked those who have questioned UK leader Jeremy Corbyn’s  attitude on anti-Semitism.

It followed the unprecedented step of three of the UK’s leading Jewish newspapers publishing a joint front page message warning a Corbyn-led government would pose an “existential threat to Jewish life in this country”.

Ms Lockhart posted about the move: “If the purpose is to generate opposition to anti-Semitism, it has backfired spectacularly.

“If it is to get rid of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader, it is unlikely to succeed and is a shameless piece of cynical opportunism.

“And if it is a Mossad assisted campaign to prevent the election of a Labour government pledged to recognise Palestine as a state, it is unacceptable interference in the democracy of Britain.”

Mr Docherty said the post matched one of the definitions of anti-Semitism as outlined by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).

A number of senior Labour MSPs have now urged the party to adopt the international definition in full and called on Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard to speak out on the issue.

Monica Lennon, Jackie Baillie, Anas Sarwar, Daniel Johnson and Colin Smyth all spoke in favour of the move.

A Scottish Labour spokesmam said: “Richard Leonard has been very clear throughout his time as leader of Scottish Labour that he has zero tolerance of, and that there is no room for, anti-Semitism or any other form of racism in the party.

“Labour’s National Executive Committee did not reject the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism. The code of conduct adopts the IHRA definition and expands on and contextualises its examples to produce robust, legally-sound guidelines that a political party can apply to disciplinary cases.

“The Labour Party is continuing to consult with Jewish groups, organisations and Rabbis to ensure the code of conduct has the full confidence of the Jewish community.”

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