Wales politics

Warning for Labour AM Jenny Rathbone over anti-Semitism

Jenny Rathbone
Image caption Jenny Rathbone says she has "reflected deeply" on her mistakes

An assembly member accused of anti-Semitism has been given a "formal warning" by the Labour Party.

Jenny Rathbone was investigated by the party after suggesting security fears of Jewish people at a Cardiff synagogue could be "in their own heads".

In November she was suspended from the Labour assembly group for six weeks, but UK Labour has now decided no further sanctions will be issued.

She said she was "profoundly sorry" for the remarks and for the offence caused.

A Labour disciplinary panel decided not to expel Ms Rathbone, or issue a further suspension.

The Cardiff Central AM will be ordered to undergo anti-Semitism training, something she had already volunteered to do.

In a statement on her website Jenny Rathbone said: "The Labour Party issued me with a formal warning about the unacceptable remarks I made 15 months ago.

"I am profoundly sorry for those remarks and for the offence I caused, both to my constituents and the wider Jewish community.

"I have reflected deeply on my mistakes and wish to do everything I can to enhance my understanding of anti-Semitism in order to identify it and fight it, wherever it occurs.

"In December I had a productive meeting with a representative from the Board of Deputies [of British Jews].

"I am grateful to the Board of Deputies for this meeting - an act of generosity in difficult and trying circumstances.

"The Board's advice has helped me understand anti-Semitism and helped me reach out to the Jewish community."

She added: "The Labour Party has rightly given me a formal sanction about my previous conduct and I am determined to make sure I never repeat that offence again."

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Media captionThe recording of Jenny Rathbone's comments, obtained by the Jewish Chronicle

A Labour Party spokesperson said: "The Labour Party takes all complaints of anti-Semitism extremely seriously and we are committed to challenging and campaigning against it in all its forms.

"All complaints about anti-Semitism are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures and any appropriate disciplinary action is taken."

Ms Rathbone was readmitted to the Labour assembly group last month, despite opposition from some AMs.

A Welsh Labour MP told BBC Wales there was "no way" she should have been readmitted before the UK Labour investigation had been completed.

In a recording, obtained by the Jewish Chronicle and published in November, Ms Rathbone was asked about increased security measures at a local synagogue.

She had said: "The fact that the Jewish synagogue in Cyncoed is, is become one of these, you know, fortress is really uncomfortable.

"How much of it is for real and how much of it is in their own heads is really hard for an outsider to judge, but I think siege mentalities are also part of it."

The synagogue's rabbi, Michoel Rose told BBC Wales the comments were "extremely offensive".

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