Friday 6 December 2019

Rachel Riley defends editing photo of Jeremy Corbyn at apartheid rally

The Countdown presenter has been criticised online after wearing a T-shirt calling the Labour leader ‘racist’.

Countdown presenter Rachel Riley (Ian West/PA)
Countdown presenter Rachel Riley (Ian West/PA)

By Emily Chudy, PA

Rachel Riley has been embroiled in an online row after editing a photo of Jeremy Corbyn at an anti-apartheid protest as she accused him of racism.

In a photo posted on Twitter, the Countdown presenter could be seen wearing a T-shirt of the Labour leader holding a placard, which read: “Jeremy Corbyn is a racist endeavour.”

However, the original image actually showed Mr Corbyn being led away by police during an anti-apartheid rally in 1984, with the sign reading: “Defend the right to demonstrate against apartheid; join this picket.”

Riley, who is Jewish, has been a vocal critic of Labour’s handling of anti-Semitism and has regularly accused Mr Corbyn of failing to properly address the issue.

Ahead of the TV debate between Mr Corbyn and Boris Johnson at MediaCity in Salford on Tuesday, she tweeted: “I didn’t feel comfortable knowing my workplace was to be full of racists tonight. I don’t endorse Boris, but I do endorse Never Corbyn.”

The tweet attracted criticism online, with some accusing her of hypocrisy and alleging that removing the reference to apartheid was itself offensive.

However, actress Tracy Ann Oberman – who has also criticised the party over anti-Semitism – tweeted: “Saw @RachelRileyRR was trending. Assumed she’d had her and Pasha’s baby. NOOOO just another massive evil organised Corbyn Troll Army pile on. They hate because they know you’re getting your message out there Rachel. Stay strong #NeverCorbyn.”

Riley responded to criticism by referencing claims that Nelson Mandela declined to meet Mr Corbyn’s anti-apartheid movement CLAAG (City of London Anti-Apartheid Group).

She said on Twitter: “Without feeding individual ignorant trolls, this is why I have no qualms using this photo to highlight Corbyn’s racism.”

During the ITV Leaders’ Debate between Mr Corbyn and the Prime Minister on Tuesday, the Labour leader said anti-Semitism was “an absolute evil and scourge within our society”.

When asked further about the issue by host Julie Etchingham, Mr Corbyn responded: “I have taken action in my party, where anyone who has committed any anti-Semitic acts or made any anti-Semitic statements, they are either suspended or expelled from the party and we’ve investigated every single case.”

After the debate, Jewish Labour Movement national secretary Peter Mason alleged the claim that every case had been investigated was a “lie”, adding: “There are at least 130 outstanding anti-Semitism cases, some dating back years, that still haven’t been dealt with.”

A spokesman for the Labour Party declined to comment on the incident involving Riley.

PA Media

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