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Tom Watson criticised for taking money from Change UK funder

TOM WATSON is accepting donations of thousands of pounds from a businessman who also finances opponents of the Labour leadership, new figures have revealed.

He accepted £10,000 from retired property developer Sir David Garrard on April 12.

Mr Watson said the donation was to “support my office as deputy leader of the Labour Party.”

However, Mr Garrard also dished out £10,000 to Joan Ryan on March 21 — a month after she abandoned Labour to help form The Independent Group (TIG), now known as Change UK.

Ms Ryan — who cited “demonisation and delegitimisation” of Israel as a reason for her defection — received another donation, of £8,000, from the businessman on April 3.

At the same time, Mr Garrard has also been bankrolling another Labour defector, Ian Austin, who quit the party around the same time as Ms Ryan but did not join TIG.

Mr Austin, who is now sits in Parliament as an independent, received £10,000 from Mr Garrard on April 4.

When they quit Labour, both MPs blamed leader Jeremy Corbyn’s alleged “failure to tackle anti-semitism” as a factor in the decision.

Mr Watson has also claimed the Labour leadership is not doing enough to eliminate anti-semitism from the party. 

He, Ms Ryan and Mr Austin are all supporters of Labour Friends of Israel, according to the lobby group’s website — despite two of them no longer being Labour MPs. Ms Ryan even continues to chair the group.

It is not the first time that Mr Watson has taken money from Mr Garrard, having pocketed £15,000 from the businessman last September.

Glyn Secker from Jewish Voice for Labour told the Morning Star: “It is clear that this deputy leader of our party, someone who was elected to office and then appointed to this post as an ally of Corbyn, has revealed his traitorous nature. 

“Jewish Voice for Labour has consistently condemned the tiny but nevertheless vile incidents of anti-semitism in the Labour Party, but equally consistently has called out the megaphone campaign by Watson and his allies to smear Corbyn and the whole party as anti-semitic as one driven by political hostility to the programme of radical reform.  

“From his party office, he has engineered a pincer movement on the leadership, complimenting the TIGs by maintaining a base with [Corbyn opponent] Margaret Hodge inside the party. 

“The common sources of funding say it all. By his vitriolic attacks on Corbyn, he has already brought the party into disrepute. 

“No wonder motions from branches calling for his dismissal are multiplying.”

However, not all of Mr Watson’s donors have continued to fund him.

Ms Ryan received £5,000 from pro-Israel lobbyist Sir Trevor Chinn on March 19. Mr Chinn has previously donated to Mr Watson, awarding him over £50,000 between 2015 and 2018.

Ms Ryan also received hospitality worth £8,500 from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee last month for flights and accommodation connected to its conference in Washington, where she spoke “on the subject of anti-semitism in the UK.”

The Star has approached Mr Watson for comment.

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