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Charity faces election bias investigation

Green Party spokesman reports the Campaign Against Antisemitism to Charity Commission over anti-Corbyn smear campaign

A CHARITY that responded to Jeremy Corbyn’s election defeat by saying that “the beast is slain” is reportedly under investigation by the third-sector watchdog.

Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) has been reported to the Charity Commission for heading a number of anti-Labour campaigns.

The complaint, made by Green Party home-affairs spokesman Shahrar Ali, accused the group of failing to be independent of party politics — a requirement under law for charities.

Mr Ali’s complaint centres on comments made by CAA’s head of political investigations, Joe Glasman, in a video published shortly after the 2019 election result.

Mr Glasman comments on Labour’s election defeat by saying that “the beast is slain,” also using the word “slaughtered.”

The bizarre video appears to show Mr Glasman admitting to co-ordinating a campaign using “spies and intel” against the party.

Mr Ali, a former deputy head of the Green Party, described the language used by Mr Glasman as “unconscionable.”

He told the Morning Star: “I think it is imperative that politicians from across the political spectrum call out and condemn negative campaigning which would incite hatred and goes well beyond the bounds of common decency.

“Following Jo Cox’s murder, it is even more pressing that we do so. The fact that Corbyn is a lifelong anti-racist campaigner makes such unjust vilification by CAA especially troubling and unconscionable.

“This is not the kind of misconduct that a registered charity should be engaging in with impunity.

“We must clean up our political culture and these kinds of negative campaigns must be rooted out, exposed and combatted.”

Mr Ali submitted the complaint earlier this month. He claimed that the commission will now investigate the matter after having made an initial assessment of the concerns raised.

A Charity Commission spokesperson said: “We have been made aware of concern regarding comments made by an employee of the Campaign Against Antisemitism, which is being assessed in line with our usual processes.”

By law, charitable organisations must not support or oppose a particular political party. It also states that particular care must be taken during an election campaign to not indicate to its supporters which party or person to vote for.

Mr Ali argues that CAA is in breach of these regulations given its heavy campaign against Mr Corbyn.

Asked whether this might have played a part in the election result, Mr Ali said: “Unfortunately the unrelenting campaign against Mr Corbyn, which persisted for years and was stepped up during the election, must have had a negative impact on his election.

“The greatest victims from our failing to challenge and correct lies in politics are the oppressed themselves — including the Palestinians who suffer daily violence — and the fight against anti-Jewish racism itself.”

The complaint is not the first to be made to the Charity Commission concerning CAA’s conduct. In 2018, the group was reported to the commission over its petition entitled “Jeremy Corbyn is an anti-semite and must go.”

The charity watchdog asked the group to reword the title “to ensure it complied with our guidance on campaigning and political activity,” suggesting it has been in breach of demonstrating political party balance.

CAA also reported the party to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, prompting the body to open a probe into the party.

Jewish socialist group Jewish Voice for Labour has accused the group of disproportionately targeting Labour over other political parties.

The group’s spokesman, Mike Cushman, said: “The activities of the CAA in its focus on the Labour Party have been of great concern for some time, as it does not appear to have been anything like as inquisitive about anti-semitism in the Conservative, UKIP or Brexit Parties.

“This has led to many suspicions of political bias inappropriate to a charity.

“The fight against anti-semitism is too important for it to get submerged in partisan manoeuvring,” he said.

CAA was founded in 2014 and describes itself as “a volunteer-led charity dedicated to exposing and countering anti-semitism through education and zero-tolerance enforcement of the law.”

The group did not respond to requests for comment by the time the Star went to print.

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