The actor Miriam Margolyes, best known for her portrayal of Professor Sprout in the Harry Potter film series, has attempted to diminish the scale and impact of the Labour antisemitism scandal by characterising it as a plot to undermine Jeremy Corbyn. In an interview given to the Radio Times, Ms Margolyes said: “I don’t think there is the extent of antisemitism in the Labour Party that people seem to imply” and stated that she believes “…it’s to do with trying to stop Corbyn from being Prime Minister.”
Accusing Jews of making accusations of antisemitism in bad faith in order to aid a hidden agenda is a well-established antisemitic slur.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission has begun pre-enforcement proceedings against the Labour Party following a formal referral and detailed legal representations from Campaign Against Antisemitism, which is the complainant. The pre-enforcement proceedings are a precursor to opening a full statutory investigation.
Ms Margolyes has a history of making appalling remarks about Jews. In 2016 she was caught on film, appearing to suggest that “Jews and blacks are stingy”. The previous year, in an interview in The Telegraph, she asserted that “nobody likes Jews” and claimed that “People understandably and correctly associate Israel with Jews and Jews are killing people. Innocent people.”
Elsewhere in the Radio Times interview, Ms Margolyes takes aim at her former friend, the actress Maureen Lipman, who has taken a brave and principled stand over antisemitism in Labour and the demonisation of Israel. Ms Margolyes refers to Ms Lipman as “a fool”.
Campaign Against Antisemitism calls on the Radio Times to apologise for providing Ms Margolyes with a platform from which to spread her repulsive views. If you think that the Radio Times should apologise, please e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org, and make clear whether you would like them to publish your e-mail.