Labour's general secretary today slammed deputy leader Tom Watson for attacking her over the anti-Semitism crisis while she is undergoing cancer treat
Labour’s general secretary today slammed deputy leader Tom Watson for attacking her over the anti-Semitism crisis while she is undergoing cancer treatment.
In an extraordinary riposte, Jennie Formy said it was ‘inappropriate’ for Mr Watson to highlight her role in the scandal.
The rebuke came after Mr Watson wrote to Ms Formby calling for the party to publish its submission to an official racism probe, as well as raising allegations she had deleted emails relating to cases – something she denies.
In a furious reply, Ms Formby said she was ‘very disappointed’ in his approach and accused him of abusing his position.
She said: ‘The party has at all levels consistently shown that it recognises the vital importance of combating anti-Semitism, yet you consistently abuse your considerable platform to denigrate any progress that has been made and any individual that is involved in that.’
In an extraordinary riposte, Jennie Formy said it was ‘inappropriate’ for Tom Watson to ‘traduce’ her reputation while she was undergoing cancer treatment
Mr Watson (pictured at Labour HQ this week) has written to Ms Formby calling for the party to publish its submission to an official racism probe, as well as raising allegations she had deleted emails relating to cases – something she denies
Ms Formby, who is undergoing treatment for breast cancer, added: ‘Traducing my reputation and publicly attacking me when you know I am undergoing chemotherapy and am unable to respond in the media is another example of the inappropriate way in which you choose to discuss this issue.’
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell also criticised the manner and timing of Mr Watson’s letter, saying it ‘goes beyond my understanding’ that it was sent ‘when he knows she’s undergoing chemotherapy’.
‘I just don’t understand why the deputy leader of the Labour Party uses the media to demand information from Labour’s General Secretary @JennieGenSec, which has already been offered to him,’ Mr McDonnell tweeted.
Mr Watson’s letter came amid fallout from a bombshell BBC Panorama documentary into Labour’s handling of anti-Semitism.
The deputy leader said a document produced for the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s investigation of the party should be made public because ‘only sunlight can disinfect Labour of anti-Semitism now’.
He also said he believes there was ‘some participation’ from leader Jeremy Corbyn’s office in the disciplinary process dealing with accusations of anti-Semitism.
The party’s deputy leader claimed there was ‘almost a permissive culture’ towards anti-Jewish racism in the ranks after damning claims about the party’s handling of accusations were broadcast.
A total of eight people told the BBC’s Panorama programme they were undermined in their attempts to tackle anti-Semitism in the party.
Former officials alleged Labour’s director of communications Seumas Milne and Ms Formby interfered with investigations.
Four of those who spoke out, including former Labour general secretary Lord Iain McNicol, broke non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) to do so.
Labour has denied the claims and written a complaint to the BBC.
In his letter to Ms Formby, Mr Watson said the people who spoke to the programme were ‘very brave to go before a camera and tell their stories’.
‘The way that they have been smeared, including by Labour spokespeople, is deplorable,’ he said.
‘Even if some in the party did not want to hear what they had to say, it is unacceptable to attempt to undermine their integrity and characters in this manner.’
General secretary Jennie Formby (pictured with Mr Corbyn) has denied accusations that she deleted emails relating to anti-Semitism cases