Two prominent members of the left-wing organisation Momentum are being investigated over allegations of anti-Semitism at Oxford University, according to reports. Max Shanly, 25, and James Elliott, 22, are at the centre of the investigation at Oxford University Labour Club (OULC), which was stemmed from the resignation of one of its co-chairs, Alex Chalmers, over concerns some of its members had a "problem with Jews".
Shanly, a member of Young Labour's national committee, and Elliot, who served as youth policy adviser to the Jeremy Corbyn for Labour Leader campaign – which has since become Momentum – both deny the allegations, reported the Daily Telegraph.
Shanly is said to be a key ally of Jon Lansman, the founder of Momentum, who describe themselves as a grass-roots network of pro-Corbyn activists. He is due to stand to be a national officer in the upcoming Labour youth elections.
Martin Howe, a lawyer from Howe & Co Solicitors who is acting for Elliott and Shanly, said the pair "absolutely reject and deny" the allegations of anti-Semitism against them. Howe added that Elliott "is proud of his record of fighting anti-Semitism and considers anti-Semitism to be abhorrent and reprehensible" and Shanly "is appalled by racism in all its forms and has always sought to challenge racism when he has come across it".
Labour Students announced they are investigating the allegations that members of the OULC have been involved in anti-Semitism and intimidation of Jewish students after Chalmers resigned from his role after the club's decision to support Israel Apartheid week.
Following his resignation, The Oxford University Jewish Society (JSoc) said several more members of the OULC came forward with allegations of anti-Semitism by senior members of the club. These included individuals repeatedly using the word 'Zio' – a term used in websites run by the Ku Klux Klan or Neo-Nazi groups – to refer to Jewish students, as well as showing support for Hamas and suggesting all Jews are "legitimate targets".
Ed Miliband, a former member of the OULC, pulled out of a planned talk hosted by the group at the John Smith Memorial Dinner as he was "deeply disturbed" by the allegations. Jo Johnson, the minister for universities, added there can be "no justification for attacks on Jewish students, and no tolerance for institutionalised racism".
A spokesperson for Momentum said: "Momentum opposes racism, anti-Semitism, and all forms of oppression. Allegations that Momentum is involved in anti-Semitism at Oxford University or anywhere else are baseless and we have received no claims about any individuals or groups associated with Momentum."
The OULC said they are "horrified" at the allegations and will co-operate fully with the investigation. The club added: "The comments detailed in JSoc's statement indicate a shocking pattern of hateful and racist behaviour by some club members, and it's of the highest priority that this be dealt with swiftly and lastingly."
A Labour Party spokesperson said: "Following recent allegations of anti-Semitic behaviour and intimidation at Oxford University Labour Club, Labour Students have launched an immediate investigation and the Labour Party welcomes and supports this action. If complaints are made about any individual member of the Labour Party, the party will take robust action to deal with any anti-Semitic behaviour."