Three Labour Lords have quit the party over its handling of the anti-Semitism crisis.
Former general secretary Lord Triesman branded Jeremy Corbyn “anti-Semitic” and said the “institutional anti-Semitism” in the party were behind his departure.
“We may one day be the Party of anti-racism once again but it certainly isn’t today,” the former Labour Party general secretary writes in his resignation letter.
He added: “My sad conclusion is that the Labour Party is very plainly institutionally anti-Semitic, and its leader and his circle are anti-Semitic having never once made the right judgement call about an issue reflecting deep prejudice.
“The number of examples is shocking.”
After his announcement former health minister Lord Darzi confirmed to Newsnight that he had also resigned the Labour whip in the Lords.
He told the programme: “I confirm I am leaving the Labour Whip to sit as independent.
“As an Arminian survivor of the Armenian genocide I have zero, tolerance to anti-Semitism, Islamophobia or any other discrimination against religion or race. This decision has not been lightly taken.”
The third member of the House of Lords, Lord Turnberg also told the programme he had quit.
He said: “I am very saddened to have had to resign the Labour Whip not least because my differences lie with the Party leadership and machine and not with my very supportive colleagues in the Lords who share my values.
“It is not just the policies on foreign affairs- proRussia, pro Venezuela anti- America- and not just Brexit vacillation and bi-passing Parliamentary opinion but the overt anti-Semitism that permeates the Party machine that is no longer possible for me to tolerate.
“I fear for the future of this party to which I have devoted myself for so any years.”
Labour rejected the claims made by the departing Lords.
A spokesperson said: “We completely reject these false and offensive claims. The Labour Party at all levels is implacably opposed to antisemitism and is determined to root out this social cancer from our movement and society.
“Labour is taking decisive action against antisemitism, doubling the number of staff dedicated to dealing with complaints and cases. And since Jennie Formby became General Secretary, the rate at which antisemitism cases have been dealt with has increased four-fold.
“Our records show that antisemitism cases that have gone through the stages of our disciplinary procedures since September 2015 account for about 0.06% of the Party’s membership. This represents a tiny minority, but one antisemite is one too many, and we will continue to act against this repugnant form of racism.”
The resignations pile further pressure on the party which has been put under strain by a Panorama investigation into its handling of the crisis which is due to air Wednesday night.
A number of former employees are reported to have torn up non-disclosure agreements to speak to the programme.
Earlier today the party’s ruling NEC decided to refer suspended MP Chris Williamson to a specialist panel.
He will be subjected to a fresh anti-Semitism probe after the NEC Disputes Committee rejected a previous recommendation to lift Mr Williamson’s suspension.
His case will now be considered by a panel that will determine whether a full investigation is merited.
The Derby North MP was originally suspended in February after he complained the party was “too apologetic” in the face of criticism of the way it dealt with the issue.
Last month a panel of the party’s ruling NEC decided the suspension should be lifted after issuing a formal warning, prompting a furious outcry from MPs and Jewish groups.
It was reimposed two days later after one member of the panel, MP Keith Vaz, said he had been drafted in at the last minute and that he believed the decision should be reconsidered.
Labour general secretary Jennie Formby has since referred the case to the party’s disputes committee.
Asked about the effect of the crisis on his party, Jeremy Corbyn said today: “Anti-Semitism is an absolute evil in our society.
“It’s an evil in any country where it raises its head. It was an evil when the Nazis came to power and it’s still an evil in many parts of Europe.
“There is no place whatsoever for anti-Semitism in my party, in our community, in our society or in our world. We will do everything we can to drive out anti-Semitism.”
Asked by BBC’s John Pienaar : “We have staff in place investigating every case where a party member is accused of it or involved in it. Action is taken against them, either suspension or expulsion, but always after an investigation and a due process.”