JEREMY Corbyn has apologised to Jewish leaders for “hurt and pain” in a bid to close down a growing row about the tacit acceptance of anti-Semitism within UK Labour.

In a letter written shortly before an unprecedented protest outside Westminster, the Labour leader insisted in a letter he was a "militant opponent" of anti-Semitism.

He also offered an “urgent meeting” to discuss the problem.

The move followed a scathing letter from the Jewish Leadership Council and Board of Deputies which accused him of siding with anti-Semites “again and again”.

They organised a protest under the banner “enough is enough”, saying there were no safe spaces within UK Labour here Jews did not encounter anti-Semitic slurs.

Jewish members were told “that the Rothschilds run the world; that Isis terrorism is a fake front for Israel; that Zionists are the new Nazis; and that Zionists collaborate with Nazis”.

The two groups said Mr Corbyn had issued countless “empty statements” about opposing anti-Semitism, while “repeatedly” siding with those with “blatantly anti-Semitic views”.

They concluded: “Rightly or wrongly, Jeremy Corbyn is now the figurehead for an anti-Semitic political culture, based on obsessive hatred of Israel, conspiracy theories and fake news that is doing dreadful harm to British Jews and to the British Labour Party.”

The row over anti-Semitism within Labour, which has been simmering since Mr Corbyn became leader, erupted last week after it emerged he had supported the artist behind an overtly anti-Semitic mural in London.

It showed a cabal of caricature Jewish businessmen playing monopoly with a board balanced on the backs of kneeling naked workers.

Shortly before the protest - and a counter demonstration by the pro-Corbyn Jewish labour members - Mr Corbyn wrote back to his accusers.

He said: "I recognise that anti-Semitism has surfaced within the Labour Party, and has too often been dismissed as simply a matter of a few bad apples.

"This has caused pain and hurt to Jewish members of our party and to the wider Jewish community in Britain. I am sincerely sorry for the pain which has been caused, and pledge to redouble my efforts to bring this anxiety to an end.

"I must make it clear that I will never be anything other than a militant opponent of anti-Semitism."

He acknowledged anti-Semitic attitudes had "surfaced more often in our ranks in recent years, and that the party has been too slow in processing some of the cases that have emerged".

But he said action was not being taken to deal with the issue.

He personally apologised for questioning the removal of a controversial mural in London.

He said: "The idea of Jewish bankers and capitalists exploiting the workers of the world is an old anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.

"This was long ago, and rightly, described as 'the socialism of fools'. I am sorry for not having studied the content of the mural more closely before wrongly questioning its removal in 2012."

Ephraim Borowski, director of the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities, said the group shared "the concern of many Jewish communal organisations about the failure of the leadership of the UK Labour Party to tackle or even to understand antisemitism", but had not seen this repeated in Scottish Labour.

At the protest on Parliament Square, Jonathan Goldstein, chairman of the Jewish Leadership Council said: "Anti-Semitism has no place whatsoever in a mainstream political party.

"It's a scourge on our society, it must be rooted out."

Labour MPs John Mann, Chuka Umunna, Wes Streeting, Luciana Berger, Stella Creasy, Liz Kendall and John Woodcock attended, alongside Tory Communities Secretary Sajid Javid.

Ms Berger, parliamentary chair of Jewish Labour Movement, said it pained her to be at the protest, but anti-Semitism had become become more "conspicuous", "commonplace" and "corrosive" than previously.

Mr Streeting vowed to help "drain the cesspit of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party", adding: "We know what needs to be done, we don't need any more mealy mouthed statements from the leader of the Labour Party."

Scottish Labour leader Labour Richard Leonard said his party had a " zero tolerance policy towards discrimination of any kind".