Labour Party distances itself from Downham Market Chris Williamson meeting
The Labour Party has moved to distance itself from a meeting that had been organised in Downham with controversial left-wing MP Chris Williamson.
Mr Williamson had been due to speak at a meeting organised at Downham Market Methodist Church tomorrow evening.
But late yesterday the church cancelled the event, organised by local man Phil Wagstaff, saying it had not known who the speaker was.
Mr Williamson, the MP for Derby South, failed in a High Court yesterday bid to overturn his suspension from the party, although Labour was deemed to have acted unlawfully by re-suspending him in June.
This was after comments that had brought accusations of anti-semitism against him.
Today a regional Labour Party spokesman said: Labour Party spokesperson said: “The event scheduled to take place, which we understand has now been cancelled by the venue is not a Labour Party event, nor is the organiser of the event a member of the Labour Party. Chris Williamson also remains suspended from the Labour Party.”
The Rev Maurice Stafford, of Downham Methodist Church, said yesterday: "I can confirm that Downham Market Methodist Church received a request for a political meeting on Saturday October 12th.
"This was accepted because at the time it was mentioned that Chris Williamson would speak, none of us had ever met Chris Williamson or knew anything about him.
"Since then our understanding has increased and after further consultation it has been decided to cancel the booking.
"Methodist Standing Orders prohibit us going ahead with political meetings where permission would have a “detrimental effect on the peace and unity of the church and its witness”.
"Further to that the Methodist Church is against racism in all its forms including anti-semitism."
Mr Williamson has vehemently denied all accusations of anti-semitism.
He caused a furore with Jewish critics of the party for his comments that Labour had "been too apologetic" to those alleging anti-semitism over what is principally criticism of harsh Israeli government policy towards the Palestinians over many years.
A spokeswoman for West Norfolk's Jewish community had told the Lynn News on Thursday that it was concerned that Mr Williamson had been asked to speak and noted that it came only days after a believed Nazi sympathiser had murdered two people outside a German synagogue.
Mr Wagstaff told this paper that he considered this to be a slur while another correspondent contacted us to say the comment "was astounding, even outrageous, when no doubt, Mr Williamson would be among the first to condemn the shooting".