Labour councillor suspended over allegations of anti-semitism

Posted On 15 Jul 2020 at 3:05 am

A senior Labour councillor has been suspended after two allegedly anti-semitic Facebook posts emerged, putting the party’s minority control of the council at risk.

Anne Pissaridou, who chairs the council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee, was reported to the party’s compliance unit last week.

She is the second councillor selected by the party on a Momentum slate to be reported for alleged anti-semitism. Councillor Nichole Brennan stood down in March and remains under investigation but has not been suspended.

In May last year, Labour won just one more seat than the Green party.

Councillor Anne Pissaridou said: “I am deeply sorry for my actions and any distress I have caused to the Jewish community.

“This happened several years ago, before I was a councillor, and the posts I shared do not reflect my views.

“I do not seek to excuse my mistake. I deeply regret not properly reading information before sharing such hurtful links.

“I am aware of the complaint that has been made to the Labour Party and will fully co-operate with any investigation.”

The first post, made in October 2016, was of an article from a conspiracy theory website which linked one of the Rothschilds with what it claimed was the imminent collapse of the German banking system and warnings to stockpile food.

It was illustrated with a picture of a smiling Sir Jacob Rothschild surrounded by bars of gold contrasted with an anxious child grabbing bottles of water, and stated that his family had been in “de facto control of the world’s central banks for centuries”.

The second post, made in August 2018, was from a website run by Mike Sivier, who had been expelled from Labour earlier that year, reportedly for refusing anti-semitism training.

The headline was “Jewish Israeli journalist claims pro-Israel propagandists have ‘taken out a contract’ to stop Jeremy Corbyn being elected”.

The suspension means Councillor Pissaridou cannot attend any Labour group meetings or represent the party. She will represent her constituents as an independent councillor until the matter is resolved.

A spokeswoman for the Sussex Jewish Representative Council said: “Once again the Jewish community of Brighton and Hove is confronted by the spectre of anti-semitism in the Labour-led council.

“We read in the press how this council is committed to being the ‘anti-racist’ council which we of course support and applaud, but we can’t help but ask, when might they commit themselves to being the anti-anti-semitism council? They seem to believe that press releases suffice when action is needed.

“The Jewish community and this city deserves better than this. Until they tackle, in action, the issues they have with anti-semitism, any statements about being an anti-racist council just seem rather hollow.”

Councillor Pissaridou was selected as a candidate on a Momentum slate in 2019 for North Portslade, and Councillor Brennan for East Brighton.

She was also an admin of the Hove and Portslade Labour Facebook group when it was suspended after being overrun by posts about Israel, many made by a member who has since been expelled.

Councillor Brennan stepped down as deputy chair of the housing committee in March after pictures of her protesting against the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-semitism emerged.

Three days later, she posted on Facebook that she “will not bow down to white supremacy and will always challenge racism in ALL its forms”.

In May, Labour said that this post formed part of its continuing investigation.

Last month, Councillor Brennan retweeted two untrue anti-vaccine conspiracy theories. The first falsely claimed that the first person to trial a coronavirus vaccine was dying and the other that Downing Street aide Dominic Cummings was visiting a vaccine development company during his infamous trip to Barnard Castle.

Earlier this month, a picture of and quote from Councillor Brennan was used on all the Brighton and Hove Labour Party social media channels to promote a transport survey and was used as a pinned tweet on its Twitter page for several days.

When these matters were raised with Brighton and Hove Labour, a spokesman said that it was not commenting on whether or not Councillor Brennan was still under investigation.

Anne Pissaridou, far right, at pro-Corbyn meeting in 2019, seated with three other Labour members suspended or expelled from the party

This month, the Labour party announced that it had been passed a draft copy of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report into anti-semitism in the party.

A focus of the EHRC’s investigation has reportedly been how the party’s complaints process has been run, with some alleged cases of anti-semitism taking months or years to resolve.

At least three local members accused of anti-semitism, Pam Page, Rebecca Massey and Anne Mitchell, have been expelled or have left after being suspended in recent weeks.

Ms Massey tweeted she had been expelled in June because of her support for Chris Williamson MP, who was suspended after saying Labour had been “too apologetic” over anti-semitism.

Other local members who have been suspended and who say they have now left the party include Dan Harris, Amanda Bishop, and Mel Melvin.

In August last year, Anne Pissaridou attended a Stand With Corbyn rally at the Brighton Hilton Metropole, where she was pictured sitting with Rebecca Massey, Anne Mitchell and another Momentum selected council candidate Alex Braithwaite, who was suspended for alleged anti-semitism during the 2019 local elections.

Last week, the Labour MP for Brighton Kemptown, Lloyd Russell-Moyle, apologised after a 2009 Facebook post in which he described zionism as a dangerous nationalist idea.

It was also alleged that he wrote a letter to Labour’s HQ asking for Rebecca Massey not to be expelled.

  1. Jonathan Simons Reply

    Appalling but not surprising given Anne Pissaridou’s history in defending blatant anti-semitism in Brighton & Hove Labour.

    The usual defense here of “This happened several years ago, before I was a councillor“ seems even more feeble than usual considering one of these posts was less than 2 years ago and Anne Pissaridou was also a councillor from 2011 to 2015!

  2. Nobby English Reply

    Couldn’t have happened to a nicer person! I know Anne Pissaridou and my experience is her is entirely negative. She is an ideological zealot who cares nothing of her constituents lives and problems. She deserves this.

  3. Hovelassies Reply

    The Labour Council Efforts to reach out to the local Jewish community and to the congregations of each of the 3/4 synagogues is pitiful. Pretense of being an anti-racist council, but still the Jew hatred leaks out, which is just as pernicious as racism.

  4. bradly1 Reply

    who made the complaint? is reading the two articles evidence enough to ground a complaint?

  5. David Compression Reply

    Don’t be fooled by this latest assault on the Labour left by elitist ‘cancel culture’ hypocrites. They cancelled Jeremy Corbyn, took away any meaningful choice at the ballot box and now the Labour Party is in the safe territory of Establishment Team B. Sir Keir Starmer has made it impossible for anyone in the Labour Party to show any solidarity with the Palestinians.

  6. Gerry Reply

    Am I the only resident in Brighton sick to death of the constant Jew hate and blatant racism displayed by Brighton and Hove Labour party councillors, activists and even my MP Russell Moyle, who was forced to apologize just a few days ago for yet another anti Jewish rant? Nothing seems to stop them, and Councillor Pissaridou, like her mate Cllr Brennan, can’t seem to help themselves..I honestly think that the local Labour Party must now be disbanded at once…it is racist to it’s very core, and totally rotten too.

    • David Compression Reply

      Nothing Lloyd Russell Moyle posted was anti-Semitic and you know it. Most people would agree that ethic nationalism and kicking people off their land is not progressive. He made the remarks in 2009, when he was 22, so obviously a team is being paid to trawl through the social media feeds of left-wing Labour MPs and councillors in the hope that something is found and they don’t ‘apologise’ quickly enough, like RLB who got sacked.

  7. Samuel Reply

    This has nothing to do with showing solidarity with the Palestinians. Many Jewish people in this city show solidarity with Palestinians. There is a specific prayer in the weekly Shabbat service dedicated to this.

    • David Compression Reply

      If the Israeli government would align itself with the international community and give Jews and non-Jews the same rights, return stolen land and resources and pay reparations to Palestinians, then we can all move on. Until then, it will be necessary to harshly condemn Israel as a rogue state and call on British people to boycott all commerce with this country.

  8. Rabbi Andrea Zanardo c/o BHRS Reply

    As the Rabbi of the biggest synagogue in town, I must say that I find very amusing how these folks go through a whole process, from antisemitism to repentance without bothering to inform the Jewish community.

  9. Natalie Downes Reply

    Totally shocking to know the labour party have allowed her to still be part of their party, good luck getting votes in the next election because labour is actually allowing someone in the party to stand as councillor and condone her actions…shame on the labour party, myself as a member of this once great party will certainly be deleting myself as a member and I only hope the local communities who have always supported this party take a look at this acceptance of a councillor and like myself and many other members agree that this is totally unacceptable behaviour and to stand in such a post is making the party look racist, and to agree to let a coucillor carry on with a role whilst representing Labour is absolutely shameful.

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