Iran has “infiltrated” Labour, one of the party’s pro-Israel MPs has warned after journalists from its state broadcaster joined the party and then filmed a members-only meeting in her constituency.
Press TV, which is banned from broadcasting in Britain, was able to film the moment a no-confidence vote was passed against Joan Ryan because its journalists were permitted to join the Labour Party as members several months ago.
On Friday, Ryan, chair of Labour Friends of Israel, demanded that Iranian propagandists from the news channel be ousted from the Party, describing their actions as “appalling” and “greatly concerning”.
Ryan, a staunch critic of Jeremy Corbyn’s failure to stamp out antisemitism, said the Iranian broadcaster specifically targeted her because of her support for Israel, adding that their presence had been an “appalling infiltration”.
In an interview with the Telegraph, Ryan, a Labour MP since 1997, said: “I’m horrified that they’ve infiltrated the Labour Party in this way and I think it needs to be investigated, because it is incredibly serious. I’m proud of my values, and I don’t expect to be the toast of the mouthpiece of the Iranian regime.”
Ryan’s Enfield North constituency party has launched an investigation into the incident, which happened on Thursday night when she lost a vote of no confidence which she described as part of an attempt to “purge” moderates from Labour.
A Labour insider told The Telegraph that Roshan Salih, a Press TV journalist, joined the Party several months ago. It is also understood that Salih, who describes Israel as a “terror state”, was able to vote in the no-confidence motion.
A second Press TV journalist named Robert Carter was also spotted at the meeting and was seen filming. A Labour party spokesman said that the party would not discuss individual members, while Salih answered questions on Twitter about whether he was a member by saying: “I might be, I might not be. I suggest you do your job and investigate whether I am.”
Jeremy Corbyn has historic links to Press TV, having been paid £20,000 for appearances on the channel in the past, and the journalist who filmed the footage, Roshan Salih, has interviewed him “countless” times, praising him as “genuine and decent”.
Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, said he found it “impossible to fathom” how Press TV were able to enter the venue, warning that “this disorder makes a farce of the proceedings and is not how the modern Labour Party should conduct its affairs”.
On the same night Gavin Shuker, a similarly outspoken critic of Corbyn, also lost a confidence vote in his constituency of Luton South.
They are the third and fourth Labour MPs to lose such votes, which are effectively the first stage of an attempt to deselect them.