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HarperCollins to remove false comments from Tom Bower's Corbyn biography

Publisher expresses regret over comments against Palestinian Return Centre that appeared in Bower's critical biography of Labour leader
Jeremy Corbyn has been subject of several critical biographies (AFP)

HarperCollins has apologised for comments that appeared in author Tom Bower's critical biography of Jeremy Corbyn suggesting the UK-based Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) blamed the Jewish people for the Holocaust.

The world-renowned publisher said on Thursday that they and Bower expressed regret over the comments and acknowledged that the allegation should never have been made.

In a joint news release with the PRC, all three parties said that the allegation stemmed from misreporting by the media of a meeting hosted in October 2016 at the House of Lords.

As Middle East Eye previously reported, during that event an audience member - affiliated neither with Corbyn nor with the PRC - stood up and asserted that a particular rabbi had antagonised Hitler and therefore precipitated the Holocaust. 

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The PRC said that the person was not speaking on behalf of the PRC and his comments were not endorsed by the PRC members present, as some newspapers had suggested.

An inquiry, led by the Commissioner of Standards, later found that PRC's event had neither promoted antisemitism nor been taken over by antisemitic speakers.

"HarperCollins and Mr Bower accept this account of the meeting and withdraw the allegation which they regret making," they said in a statement.

"Mr Bower relied on a contemporaneous newspaper report of the House of Lords event, which had not been amended or corrected, but he and the publishers are happy to acknowledge the PRC's justifiable complaint now the true position is known."

"No such suggestion will appear in any future editions of the book," they added.

The PRC said it has never blamed the Jews for causing the Holocaust, which it considers "one of the greatest crimes in history."

Bower's biography of Corbyn, which soared to No. 2 on The Sunday Times bestseller list after being published in February last year, has repeatedly been criticised for omitting relevant facts in order to portray Corbyn as a ruthless Marxist and antisemite.

"As a biography, it tells us nothing we don't already know and gets things wrong," Stephen Bush, political editor of the New Statesman, wrote in a scathing book review.

"As a hatchet job, it is a dismal failure that condemns Corbyn's decision to skip a meaningless Arsenal match with equal intensity as it does his failure to tackle antisemitism in the Labour ranks."