PO­LICE PROBE HATE TWEETS

The Jewish Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - EX­CLU­SIVE BY LEE HARPIN

PO­LICE ARE in­ves­ti­gat­ing an­ti­semitic abuse sent to the chal­lenger for the lead­er­ship of Bri­tain’s biggest trade union af­ter he crit­i­cised cur­rent gen­eral sec­re­tary Len McCluskey in a JC in­ter­view.

Gerard Coyne al­leges he was tar­geted by sup­port­ers of Mr McCluskey in a so­cial me­dia smear cam­paign ac­cus­ing him of hav­ing the “back­ing” of an al­leged “Jewish mafia” along with other clas­si­cal an­ti­semitic tropes.

Mr Coyne — who last week told the JC that un­der his lead­er­ship the Unite union would re­pair its dam­aged rep­u­ta­tion with Bri­tain’s Jews — was this week in­ter­viewed by po­lice as the vic­tim of a pos­si­ble hate crime.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion is be­lieved to centre around a se­ries of an­ti­semitic Twit­ter mes­sages sent last weekend to Mr Coyne from an ac­count set up in re­cent months un­der the pseu­do­nym of @1UnionBloke.

Among of se­ries of anti-Jewish mes­sages sent from the ac­count was one fea­tur­ing a su­per­im­posed photo of Mr Coyne’s face on an im­age of a Jewish man bran­dish­ing a gun, with the word­ing: “Be warned @ger­ard_­coyne has back­ing now!!”, along with the phrase “Jewish Mafia”.

Other mes­sages from the ac­count, all of which at­tempted to pro­mote sup­port for Mr McCluskey’s cam­paign, in­cluded sug­ges­tions Mr Coyne was pan­der­ing to the Jewish community in his lead­er­ship cam­paign.

One tweet stated: “His anti any­body who isn’t Jewish is ex­posed. @ger­ard_ coyne also re­veals his shad­owy back­ers. So @Unite­forLen.”

An­other Twit­ter post from a dif­fer­ent ac­count claimed Mr Coyne was “cosy­ing up to pow­er­ful Jewish con­ser­va­tive sup­port­ers of Zion­ism and ready to sell his soul”.

Unite union sources said there are con­cerns the in­di­vid­ual op­er­at­ing the @1UnionBloke ac­count also had “ac­cess to con­fi­den­tial lo­cal branch mat­ters only known to a small clique at the top of the union”.

The spate of mes­sages sent to Mr Coyne from so­cial me­dia ac­counts re­ceived wide­spread con­dem­na­tion.

Ob­server jour­nal­ist and au­thor Nick Co­hen wrote: “Len McCluskey’s sup­port­ers are dis­gust­ing. There’s no racist pro­pa­ganda too dis­gust­ing for them to use against Gerard Coyne.”

In an ap­par­ent at­tempt to limit any in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the @1UnionBloke ac­count, it was closed down on Sun­day morn­ing with a state­ment is­sued to Mr Coyne stat­ing: “Fol­low­ing ad­vice I un­re­servedly apol­o­gise for any of­fence caused to you by re­cent tweets and will be de-ac­ti­vat­ing this ac­count.”

The an­ti­semitic smear cam­paign was ap­par­ently sparked by Mr Coyne’s at­tack on Mr McCluskey’s lead­er­ship of Unite. The can­di­date claimed the in­cum­bent had re­peat­edly “sin­gled out” Is­rael for con­dem­na­tion.

A spokes­woman for Mr McCluskey’s cam­paign said: “Len has al­ways been clear that he wants his sup­port­ers to sup­port his pos­i­tive, pro­gres­sive agenda, which cel­e­brates the in­clu­sive val­ues of our labour move­ment.

“He does not want or con­done any en­gage­ment by them in on­line abuse.

“Unite has also made it clear that any mem­ber who has made an­ti­semitic com­ments is in breach of the union’s rules and will face dis­ci­plinary ac­tion.” (Left) an of­fen­sive tweet, (above) Mr Coyne, the JC in­ter­view

The forth­com­ing Unite lead­er­ship elec­tion has be­come the bat­tle­ground for the bit­ter civil war that has erupted be­tween the far-left and more mod­er­ate forces within the Labour Party.

Mr McCluskey is a strong sup­porter of both Mr Cor­byn and far-left Mo­men­tum founder Jon Lans­man, while Mr Coyne is close to Labour’s deputy Tom Wat­son.

Bal­lot pa­pers in the Unite elec­tion go out on March 27 — with the re­sult due at the end of April

PHOTO: PA

(be­low)

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