Shami Chakrabarti does not rule out Corbyn shadow cabinet post – The Guardian

Shami Chakrabarti, the former Liberty director, has not ruled out taking a post in Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet when she takes a seat in parliament as a peer.

Speaking on the Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, she also said she did not discuss with the Labour leader the possibility of going to the Lords before agreeing earlier this year to conduct a report for him on antisemitism in the party.

There were “no inducements, no offers, no threats [and] no interference”, she said.

Chakrabarti only joined the Labour party this year and she was the only person nominated by Corbyn for a peerage in David Cameron’s list of resignation peerages published in August. Her elevation triggered a controversy because it came only weeks after she published an antisemitism report regarded by critics as soft on Labour.

In the Marr interview, Chakrabarti was repeatedly asked about allegations that there was a connection between her agreeing to conduct the antisemitism inquiry for the party and the offer of a peerage.

When first asked if there had been a discussion about her becoming a peer before she agreed to produce the report, Chakrabarti sidestepped the question, saying: “Jeremy Corbyn is not a corrupt man and I am not a corrupt woman. I stand by the report. There was nothing remotely transactional about it.”

She also said she knew “what it is like to be offered transactional favours by prime ministers” – suggesting that a previous government had tried to buy her off in the past with the offer of a peerage.

But, when pressed, Chakrabarti said she had not discussed her peerage with Corbyn before agreeing to conduct the inquiry.

“I joined the Labour party because I wanted to be part of its future, but I did my report into racism and antisemitism with no inducements, no offers, no threats, no interference … [Corbyn] offered it to me afterwards knowing that I am a Labour person and I want to help.”

Chakrabarti said she wanted to continue contributing to Labour and, when asked if she would consider taking a post in Corbyn’s shadow cabinet, possibly as shadow justice secretary, she did not rule out the idea. “I think he has got a leadership election to win before anything like that,” she replied.

Most members of the shadow cabinet are MPs but the shadow justice secretary’s post was taken by a peer, Charles Falconer, until he resigned in the summer to be replaced by Corbyn loyalist Richard Burgon.

Getting Chakrabarti to take a frontbench post would be a coup for Corbyn, who has been accused of heading a threadbare and second-rate shadow ministerial team after dozens of shadow ministers resigned saying they had no confidence in his leadership. As Liberty director from 2003 until March this year Chakrabarti was seen as one of the UK’s most articulate and effective campaigners.

At the time, she was not identified with Labour, not least because much of her time was spent criticising the civil rights record of the Blair/Brown governments. But Corbyn is much more libertarian than his predecessors.

Asked whether the row about her peerage and the report had damaged her reputation, Chakrabarti replied: “When people sling mud at you, it is designed to damage your reputation. But I have not done anything in my working life for reputation. I’m doing my best to make a difference.”

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