Calls for ex-Pendle Labour leader accused of anti-Semitism to be permanently expelled

The Pendle MP has called for a former council boss to be permanently kicked out of the Labour Party for allegedly breaking party rules.
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Coun. Mohammed Iqbal was temporarily excluded last June pending an investigation after implying that Israel was comparable to Nazi Germany in a speech during a Pendle Council debate. The Bradley ward councillor – then leader of the authority and Pendle Labour – denies being anti-Semitic.The Jewish Chronicle has published pictures of Coun. Iqbal canvassing for the party leading up to the local elections, outside a polling station wearing a Labour rosette, and posing alongside Labour figures, including Lancashire County Coun. Azhar Ali.Now Pendle Conservative MP Andrew Stephenson urges opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer to expel him properly.He said: “Since his supposed ‘suspension’ from the Labour Party, Coun. Iqbal has continued to sit with the Labour group in Pendle Council and Lancashire County Council.“He was seen repeatedly out campaigning for Labour in the run up to the local elections and then attended the count to celebrate alongside other Labour councillors.“It is therefore unclear what his ‘suspension’ actually means.

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“In the light of the Pendle Labour Party turning a blind eye to antisemitism, Sir Keir Starmer should launch an investigation into the local Labour Party and make Coun. Iqbal’s suspension permanent.”Party sources said the suspension of Coun. Iqbal – who officially sits as an Independent on the borough and county councils – remained in force pending a decision on his future by its complaints board.A spokesman for the Jewish Labour Movement told the Jewish Chronicle: “If he has taken part in campaigning then it is likely that he will have broken the rules of his suspension and this will be added onto the charge sheet when his case is heard. All parts of the party must be with us and Keir Starmer in destroying this toxic legacy of antisemitism from our party.”

Coun. Mohammed Iqbal.Coun. Mohammed Iqbal.
Coun. Mohammed Iqbal.
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Anne-Marie Wrigley, Pendle Labour Party vice-chair, said: “After 13 years as MP for Pendle, Andrew Stephenson is now resorting to personal attacks against Labour Party members because he has seen the tide has turned.“This is a desperate man worried more about his ministerial career than anything else.“Coun. Iqbal is suspended from the Labour Party pending an investigation, which we hope will be concluded soon.“He cannot act on behalf of the Labour Party.”

Coun. Iqbal has been approached for comment.