Published: 11:04, 28 June 2019
| Updated: 11:30, 28 June 2019
Kent's only Labour MP has condemned a decision to readmit a long-standing member being investigated about claims of anti-Semitism.
Rosie Duffield, who represents Canterbury, is among dozens of MPs who have signed a joint statement criticising the reinstatement of MP Chris Williamson, who has been told his suspension from the party has been lifted.
The Derby North MP was suspended in February for what was described as a "pattern of behaviour" going back months.
But a three-person NEC panel on anti-Semitism lifted that suspension, despite a recommendation that he be referred to the next stage of Labour's disciplinary process.
The decision sparked the highly critical statement, also signed by deputy party leader Tom Watson, which said: "We cannot overstate the depth and breadth of hurt and anger felt about the readmission of Chris Williamson into the Labour Party and the questions that arise about the fairness of the process.
"Justice needs to be seen to be done and this process has not done that."
MPs said the case was important in the context of a wider inquiry into the party by the EHRC about allegations of institutional anti-Semitism.
"It is clear to us that the Labour Party's disciplinary process remains mired by the appearance of political interference.
"This must stop. We need a truly independent process.
"We call on Jeremy Corbyn to show leadership by asking for this inappropriate, offensive and reputationally damaging decision to be overturned and reviewed again."
The Canterbury MP earlier posted a tweet which mimicked one by Mr Williamson in which he had welcomed the decision, saying: "I'd like to express my heartfelt thanks for the avalanche of goodwill messages from grassroots members."
In response, she tweeted a reply: "I'd like to express my heartfelt thanks to all who have contacted me to say that this decision does not represent their views as @UKLabour members, voters or supporters. I hear you and I agree. #NotInMyName"
Euan Philipps, who quit as the chairman of the Tonbridge and Malling Labour constituency association over anti-Semitism and now heads the campaign group Labour Against Anti-Semitism, said: "Chris Williamson MP is an alleged anti-Semite who should have no business in any mainstream party.
"I'd like to express my heartfelt thanks to all who have contacted me to say that this decision does not represent their views as UK Labour members, voters or supporters" - Rosie Duffield
"His case, including evidence of his apparent promotion of anti-Jewish prejudice going back years, should have led to his expulsion from the Labour Party weeks ago.
"Instead he has been allowed to return with nothing worse than a figurative slap on the wrist - an outrageous outcome that brings the entire Labour movement into disrepute."
In May, Labour party chiefs upheld an appeal by Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt against a decision to reject her as the prospective parliamentary candidate for South Thanet.
She faced claims of appearing to defend a colleague accused of anti-Semitism, sparking claims she was supporting anti-Jewish feelings.
She is now seeking reselection as the Labour candidate for the seat saying reasons behind the committee deciding not to endorse her "seem to have evaporated".
More by this authorPaul Francis