The Argus, based in Brighton and Hove, in East Sussex, has revealed that newly-elected Labour MP for Kemptown, Lloyd Russell-Moyle, has allegedly called for Labour activist Melanie Melvin to be reinstated to the Labour Party despite her claim that the BBC faked footage of a Syrian gas attack at the behest of the “Israeli lobby”.
On 7th April, a tweet on Ms Melvin’s account suggested that the Israelis were part of a conspiracy to fake a nerve gas attach by the Assad regime. She allegedly tweeted: “Breaking: Sarin gassing was filmed by the BBC at Pinewood on the orders of Mrs May and the Israeli lobby.” The tweet appears to have been deleted.
According to a report in the JC at the time, “Labour has confirmed that an activist who sent anti-Israel and anti-Jewish tweets is no longer a member of the Party.” It added: “However, a spokesperson for South East Labour Party declined to comment on whether she had been expelled or suspended.” The Argus suggests that Ms Melvin was subsequently suspended.
The Argus revealed that Brighton and Hove city councillor, Caroline Penn, told the paper that “she felt lied to by Kemptown MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle after the MP told her over Twitter he was “not appealing” on behalf of a Labour Party activist.” But in a leaked letter from Mr Russell-Moyle to the General Secretary of the Labour Party, seen by The Argus, the MP says he “recommends” the member’s reinstatement, concluding: “I do hope her record and her apologies will be enough to…allow her to return to membership.”
Councillor Penn told the paper that she was “furious” to learn of the content of the letter, written a week before the Twitter exchange with Mr Russell-Moyle in which she accused him of “defending the indefensible.”
The Argus alleged that “Following a conversation with Ms Melvin, Mr Russell-Moyle wrote to Labour Party General Secretary Iain McNicol on June 30 to say her tweet seemed ‘unhinged at best’ but had, he believed, been made as a parody of online conspiracy theorists. He said her behaviour showed ‘naivety but no malicious intent’ and said, as a ‘stalwart of the campaign’ who has apologised, the member should be reinstated.”
Ivor Caplin, the former MP for Hove, told TheArgus: “I can’t see how anyone could say she should continue to be a member of the Labour Party. We have to take firm and decisive action on this issue.” He said there was “ample evidence” that the tweet by Ms Melvin breached the International Definition of Antisemitism.
According to the paper, Mr Russell-Moyle told Councillor Penn via Twitter that he had “reported” the conversation with Ms Melvin to the Party, writing: “I’ve a duty to relay a genuine conversation…She will have to appeal herself. I’m not appealing on anyone’s behalf.”
Yesterday he told TheArgus: “I’m not appealing on her behalf. My understanding is there was an appeal going in and I was asked for evidence on her behalf. I was asked what my opinion was. She had assured me she was trying to show how stupid those views were. Based on that conversation I believe she’d been suitably apologetic.” He added that if further evidence came to light that Ms Melvin held antisemitic views, that there “should be no place her her [sic]” in the Labour Party. He said he would be “more than happy” to apologise to Councillor Penn “if she feels betrayed.”
The only problem with this excuse is that the tweet about Sarin gas was not Ms Melvin’s only problematic tweet. On 2nd February, responding to a post calling for action against the “bullying” of Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott, Melvin allegedly tweeted that “maybe she could claim Jewish ancestry. Then there’d be action.” She also claimed that allegations of antisemitism in the Party “weaken us all” and were “unfounded smears.”
Campaign Against Antisemitism welcomes Councillor Penn and Mr Caplin’s intervention. We will continue to monitor this case closely.
Campaign Against Antisemitism is a volunteer-led charity dedicated to exposing and countering antisemitism through education and zero-tolerance enforcement of the law. Everything that we do is done by people who volunteer their time, using donations contributed by members of the public. Join the fight against antisemitism by subscribing to our updates, volunteering, or donating.