SCOTTISH Labour has accused the BBC of bias over its investigation into anti-semitism, leading to claims that Richard Leonard has simply copied the UK party’s attack lines on the broadcaster.

Leonard’s party, which until now has said nothing about a documentary into how racism claims were dealt with in London, has also refused to back the whistleblowers who came forward to complain about Labour.

Ephraim Borowski, director of the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities, said:

"We are again disappointed, but no longer surprised, to see Jewish community concerns being dismissed."

The row comes after Scottish Labour ripped itself apart last week over its stance on a second independence referendum.

Under Corbyn’s left wing leadership, Labour has been engulfed by allegations that members and even MPs have expressed anti-semitic views.

The scandal has gone to the top, as Corbyn himself had to apologise for defending the free speech of an artist who produced an anti-semitic mural.

Although UK Labour has overhauled its internal processes for handling complaints, critics believe the system is still sclerotic and marked by huge delays.

A BBC Panorama investigation, entitled 'Is Labour Anti-Semitic?’, claimed that Corbyn’s office repeatedly intervened in investigations and reported how the mental health of former staffers in the disputes team had been adversely affected.

However, UK Labour challenged key aspects of the programme and tabled a complaint. A statement from the party read:

"The Panorama programme was not a fair or balanced investigation. It was a seriously inaccurate, politically one-sided polemic, which breached basic journalistic standards, invented quotes and edited emails to change their meaning. It was an overtly biased intervention by the BBC in party political controversy.

"An honest investigation into antisemitism in Labour and wider society is in the public interest. The Panorama team instead pre-determined an answer to the question posed by the programme’s title."

This led to Labour staff who are members of the GMB trade union voting overwhelmingly - 124 to 4 - to condemn the party's response to the Panorama programme.

However, although the complaints system applies to Labour across the UK, the Scottish party has been silent on the programme.

This is in spite of Leonard, a Corbyn ally, expressing frustration at the length of time some complaints have taken to be resolved.

The Herald on Sunday asked Scottish Labour about Leonard’s reaction to the programme, whether he backed the whistleblowers who made the allegations, and whether he supported the GMB staff motion. Leonard is a GMB member who worked for the union before becoming an MSP.

In response, the party declined to offer a named quote from Leonard, but instead provided a statement from a Scottish Labour spokesperson.

The quote condemned anti-semitism, but then criticised the BBC in terms that were in parts identical to the UK Labour statement:

“An honest investigation into antisemitism in Labour and wider society is in the public interest. But the Panorama team made no serious attempt to understand the Party’s procedures for dealing with antisemitism, and the programme was not fair or balanced, it breached basic journalistic standards, invented quotes and edited emails to change their meaning.”

It added: “It was an overtly biased intervention by the BBC on a matter of political controversy. Our response has highlighted these failings and we are pursuing a formal complaint."

Scottish Labour also refused to back the ex-staff who came forward: “While the testimony of some of the former staff members was distressing, some of the claims made in the programme were inaccurate. We take the welfare of our staff extremely seriously and all our employees have access to a free advice service, which provides round-the-clock confidential support, including counselling. This service is widely advertised throughout the organisation.”

Leonard has put workers’ rights at the heart of his leadership and he spoke at length during his conference speech in 2018 about the staff he had helped.

Borowski added: "As with the cases of Jim Sheridan, who was reinstated and promoted by the party this year, and George McIrvine, who has been appointed to a candidate selection panel, this recent statement demonstrates that there is still much work to be done before Scottish Labour truly understands the issue of anti Jewish hatred.

"It is appalling that former Labour employees' first-hand accounts of their own experience are still being dismissed in this way by party officials. We call on the so called anti-racist party to support the victims and take serious action against the perpetrators of racism."

A Labour source said: “It simply isn’t good enough to meekly repeat the UK Party’s lines. Jeremy Corbyn's leadership disgraced themselves in their response to the Panorama show, and in Scottish Labour we should hold ourselves to a higher standard."

Scottish Tory chief whip Maurice Golden said:

"Instead of backing the brave whistleblowers and reassuring the Jewish community, the party have rounded on journalists for exposing the truth.

“It’s no wonder Scotland’s Jewish community are so disgusted at the Labour party here and across the UK.”