The Labour investigation into Diane Abbott over comments she made on racism was completed in December 2023, BBC Newsnight can reveal.

Ms Abbott, the long-standing MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, was given a formal warning over her conduct and required to complete an “antisemitism awareness course”.

A source close to the veteran politician said despite that, she still had not been told whether she will be allowed to stand as a Labour candidate in her constituency at the general election.

Ms Abbott was suspended as a Labour MP 13 months ago after suggesting Jewish, Irish and Traveller people were not subject to racism “all their lives”.

She apologised on X, formerly known as Twitter, and withdrew her remarks.

A source close to Ms Abbott said she was not expecting her suspension to be lifted. They accused the party of having a “pre-determined outcome” and “dragging out the process in order to block her from being a candidate at the election”.

The Labour party told Newsnight that it does not comment on disciplinary cases.

Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) wrote to Ms Abbott in December 2023 saying it had concluded its eight-month inquiry into her comments.

It issued her with a “formal warning” for “engaging in conduct that was in the opinion of the NEC, prejudicial and grossly detrimental to the Labour Party”.

It said it expected her to undertake an “online, e-learning module” which a source said was a two-hour antisemitism awareness course.

Ms Abbot did the module in February, after which it is understood she received an email from Labour’s chief whip acknowledging she had completed it.

On Friday, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer told BBC News that Diane Abbott is “going through, and being part of and getting to the end of a disciplinary process because of something she said”.

He said it “would be sorted out now within a few days because the deadline for candidates is coming”.

Ms Abbott currently sits as an independent MP and is not allowed to represent Labour in the House of Commons. She has been an MP since 1987, was the first black woman elected to Parliament, and a loyal supporter of former party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

She is said to be “angry, depressed and worn out” by the way she feels the party has treated her, but is said to be buoyed by the support of activists in her constituency.

Her suspension came after she wrote in a letter to the Observer newspaper that Irish, Jewish and Traveller people “undoubtedly experience prejudice” which she said is “similar to racism”.

The letter added: “It is true that many types of white people with points of difference, such as redheads, can experience this prejudice.

“But they are not all their lives subject to racism.”

In her apology, Ms Abbott said “errors” arose in an initial draft that was sent, adding: “But there is no excuse, and I wish to apologise for any anguish caused.”

BBC Newsnight understands Ms Abbott clarified to the NEC that the “initial draft” was the only version that had been written.

Asked about Ms Abbott’s comments the day after the letter was published, Sir Keir condemned them as antisemitic, saying “we must never accept that there’s some sort of hierarchy of racism”.

The party said it had introduced an independent complaints process to investigate cases.

You can find out more about this story on Newsnight on BBC2 at 10:30pm or on the BBC IPlayer.



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