A FORMER Labour cabinet minister investigating anti-Semitism has said the row surrounding the issue is a “very real threat” to the party.

Lord Charlie Falconer, who party bosses asked to look into the issue, said Labour needs to do more to deal with accusations of anti-Semitism in its ranks.

The comments came after it was reported party leader Jeremy Corbyn had expressed concern that evidence of

anti-Semitism in Labour has been “mislaid or ignored”. The Sunday Times said the Labour leader made the comments during a secretly recorded meeting with Margaret Hodge.

Former lord chancellor Falconer told the BBC: “I think this is a very, very real threat to the party. How can you convince people that you are a serious, moral, decent party if you are anti-Semitic?

“How can you claim to be an alternative government if you are anti-Semitic? We have to do something about it.”

The newspaper quoted Corbyn saying: “The point of him [Falconer] is that he will look at the speed of dealing with cases, the administration of them, and the collation of the evidence before it is put before appropriate panels and things.

“Because I was concerned that evidence was either being mislaid, ignored or not used

and that there had to be some better system.”

A Labour spokesman said the party takes allegations of anti-Semitism seriously.

“This shows Jeremy Corbyn’s desire to make procedures as robust and efficient as possible and to rebuild trust with the Jewish community,” he said. “We don’t comment on staffing matters. Complaints are being handled in the usual way.

“Labour 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.”

Hodge told the BBC: “The reason, actually, that I recorded that particular tape was as an insurance policy.

“I was having a one-to-one meeting with Jeremy Corbyn and, ironically, I didn’t want what I said to be misrepresented. So, I thought it was best to record it.”

Labour MP Ronnie Campbell said taping Corbyn at a private meeting was unacceptable.

He told the BBC: “I think it’s deplorable that somebody goes to a private meeting with the leader and records conversation – that’s absolutely unacceptable.

“People in the parliamentary Labour Party are using the Jewish issue, the anti-Semitic issue, as a big to stick to beat Corbyn, get rid of him.

“It’s as simple as that as far as I can see.”