Jeremy Corbyn has accepted that Canterbury’s first ever Labour MP was distressed following an attempt by hardliners to censure her for her stance against anti-semitism within the party.
Speaking as the party conference season gets underway, the Labour leader said he knew nothing of the motion which was put forward by two members of the Canterbury party and supported by around another 20.
Earlier this month the Canterbury Journal exclusively revealed that the motion to censure Ms Duffield said hardliners were “dissatisfied at her decision to involve herself with groups and organisations that are campaigning to damage our Party”.
It was ultimately withdrawn, but followed remarks by Ms Duffield that she had been appalled the abuse and level of vitriol aimed at Jewish MPs and insisted she would take a stance against all forms of racism and discrimination.
Mr Corbyn pointed out that the motion was scrapped before it had reached the stage of a full discussion by the constituency party.
And he admitted Ms Duffield had been caused distress by it.
“I knew nothing of this motion until I read about it in the media,” Mr Corbyn said.
“Two members put it forward, others signed it. It was not put to a meeting and this was before a before branch meeting had discussed it. The next stage would have been to send it to a constituency meeting.
“It didn’t even get past the branch meeting. The matter was left and dropped there.”
Cllr Alan Baldock, the leader of the Labour group on Canterbury City Council, said there had been an earnest discussion of the motion among members before its eventual withdrawal.
Mr Corbyn added that he maintained a healthy relationship with Ms Duffield.
He said: “I had a long chat with Rosie the next day. I get on fine with Rosie. I think she’s doing a great job as Canterbury’s first Labour MP.”