LONDON, Nov 2 (Reuters) - British police said on Friday they had launched an investigation into alleged anti-Semitic hate crimes within the opposition Labour party, whose leadership has faced criticism about the way it has handled complaints by Jewish groups.
London’s Metropolitan Police said its chief, Commissioner Cressida Dick, was handed a folder of paperwork in September including alleged evidence of anti-Semitic hate crimes.
“The contents have been examined by specialist officers. A criminal investigation has commenced into some of the allegations within the documentation,” a police statement said.
Dick told BBC Radio that the allegations related to an online crime.
Labour said that it had “a robust system for investigating complaints of alleged breaches of Labour party rules by its members.”
“Where someone feels they have been a victim of crime, they should report it to the police in the usual way,” a Labour statement said.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has faced criticism for his handling of complaints about anti-Semitism in his party. Earlier this year, he acknowledged anti-Semitism had surfaced within the party and apologised for the pain this had caused.
Jewish leaders have described his response as a “disappointing missed opportunity”.
Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson said the allegations were “thoroughly depressing, although sadly I’m not surprised.”
“If people have committed hate crimes, then they need to be dealt with by the full force of the law. There’s no role for them in the Labour party,” he told BBC Radio.
A report in February by the Community Security Trust, a charity that provides security advice to the country’s Jewish communities, said anti-Jewish sentiment was becoming more commonplace in Britain.
It said publicity about alleged anti-Jewish sentiment in the Labour Party had been partly to blame for a record number of anti-Semitic incidents in Britain last year. (Reporting by Alistair Smout, Editing by William Maclean)