Baroness Chakrabarti embroiled in fresh controversy over peerage


Shami Chakrabarti
Shami Chakrabarti

Baroness Shami Chakrabarti’s peerage has once again been called into question as part of a damning report by the Home Affairs Select Committee into the “failure” of leader Jeremy Corbyn to tackle anti-Semitism within the Labour party.

In June, Chakrabarti exonerated the party of being institutionally anti-Semitic after heading an independent investigation into the issue. Five weeks later, she was given a peerage by Corbyn and then made shadow attorney general in his cabinet reshuffle two weeks ago.

The Home Affairs Select Committee, made up of cross-party MPs, have called Chakrabarti’s investigation a “whitewash”, with home affairs acting chair, Tim Loughton MP, adding that the report “wasn’t worth the paper it was written on”. The Committee has asked for Chakrabarti to explain when and how she was offered her peerage, saying she hadn’t been “sufficiently open” on
the matter.

It said: “The report was clearly lacking in many areas. The fact that the report describes occurrences of anti-Semitism merely as “unhappy incidents” also suggests that it fails to appreciate the full gravity of the comments that prompted the inquiry in the first place.

“These shortfalls, combined with Ms Chakrabarti’s decision to join the Labour party in April and accept a peerage as a nominee of the leader of that party, and her subsequent appointment as shadow attorney general, have thrown into question her claims (and those of Mr Corbyn) that her inquiry was truly independent.

“Ms Chakrabarti has not been sufficiently open with the Committee about when she was offered her peerage, despite several attempts to clarify this issue with her.”

Corbyn has called the attack on Chakrabarti “unfair” and insisted the 47-year-old had already cleared up the controversy surrounding the awarding of her peerage, and a seat on the House of Lords, during two interviews with the BBC.

Speaking to the BBC‘s Andrew Marr, Chakrabarti insisted there was no talk about her being made a peer before she wrote the report.

The former human rights campaigner said: “No, it was after the Brexit vote, after the report, in the resignation honours. Jeremy Corbyn is not a corrupt man and I am not a corrupt woman. I stand by the report, there was nothing remotely transactional about this.”

The committee claims Corbyn hasn’t shown “consistent leadership” when it came to anti-Semitism but he hit back, pointing out that Committee itself, in its report, states that “75 per cent of anti-Semitic incidents come from far-right sources, and there is no reliable evidence to suggest anti-Semitism is greater in Labour than other parties”.

Corbyn insisted that the report was unfairly biased towards the Labour party and just another tool used to attack them.