'On 10 July, BBC Panorama aired its documentary Is Labour Anti-Semitic? Since broadcasting, Panorama has received criticism from the Labour Party, which claims the programme was biased and misrepresented information. Despite this, the documentary’s producer, John Ware, defended the programme in the Guardian on 14 July.
But sources from Liverpool’s Riverside Constituency Labour Party (CLP) have provided The Canary with new evidence that they believe challenges the account of one of Panorama’s whistle-blowers, Ben Westerman, a former Labour Party investigations officer from 2016 to 2017.
Panorama focuses on Labour’s Liverpool Riverside constituency
Their grievance concerns a section of the documentary involving Westerman discussing his investigation of Liverpool’s Riverside CLP.
In Panorama, narrator Ware sets the scene by describing that:
For 22 years, Liverpool’s Riverside constituency has had a Jewish MP. In the wake of Mr Corbyn’s election as party leader, there was an influx of new members. Some wanted her out. Party meetings descended into chaos. Ben Westerman was dispatched to investigate.
Westerman then states:
The Riverside investigation really took on a life of its own; it was a very big investigation – lots of complaints. These all featured antisemitism, but also included bullying, harassment, generally unpleasant behaviour towards each other at party meetings, uncomradely behaviour as the party rulebook defines it. So we opened a full investigation into that constituency party.
Ben Westerman was the only Jewish member of the disputes team.
Followed by Westerman saying:
Coming from a family with a history of oppression because they were Jews, I thought this was intolerable. And at this point, it looked like it could be stopped.
However, Canary sources from Liverpool’s Riverside CLP – who mostly wish to remain anonymous citing concerns regarding employment, safety, and political reprisals – dispute Panorama‘s characterisation that Riverside was rife with bullying and antisemitism.'
Read more: Fresh testimony from Labour members could blow Panorama’s antisemitism claims wide open