Palme d'Or-winning director Ken Loach has clarified statements made during an interview with the BBC in September when he was asked about antisemitism and Holocaust denial within the Labour Party.

Asked directly about Holocaust denial, Loach appeared not to condemn it, saying: "History is for all of us to discuss. All history is our common heritage to discuss and analyse, the founding of the State of Israel, for example, based on ethnic cleansing, is there for us to discuss."

In a letter to the New York Times, the director of I, Daniel Blake, said his comments were twisted and made clear his belief that the Holocaust, the Nazi-led genocide in which six million Jews were killed, happened.

"In a confused BBC interview, where question and answer overlapped, my words were twisted to give a meaning contrary to that intended," he wrote.

"The Holocaust is as real a historical event as World War 2 itself and not to be challenged."

He went on to pick up on points made prior to his controversial comment in the BBC interview, on how charges of antisemitism in the Labour Party were made to destabilise leader Jeremy Corbyn.

"Exaggerated or false charges of antisemitism have coincided with the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader," he said. "Discredit his supporters, and you weaken his leadership... we will not be intimidated.

"The Labour Party will continue to assert "the values of peace, universal rights and International law" as proclaimed in its manifesto."

Antisemitism has dogged the Labour Party since Corbyn first became Labour leader in 2015. A report commissioned by the party and published in April 2016 found that there is "an occasionally toxic atmosphere" within the party but that it "is not overrun by antisemitism, Islamophobia or other forms of racism."

Corbyn was criticised for his handling of former London mayor Ken Livingstone following comments he made about his belief that Adolf Hitler "did a deal with the Zionists". Livingstone was suspended for two years from the party, but many believe he should have been sacked.

Loach is a staunch socialist and has been a member of and campaigner for the Labour Party for most of his 81 years. His career has produced political films as well, with I, Daniel Blake winning acclaim in 2016 for its portrayal of poverty and the problems with the support modern governments offer to those in need.