Two serving Copeland councillors who were being investigated over allegedly ‘anti-Semitic’ Facebook posts have resigned from the Labour Party.

But the current leader of Copeland Council’s Labour Group Mike McVeigh says Tom Higgins and Graham Calvin have left the party because they feel that former leader Jeremy Corbyn has been unfairly ‘vilified’ by senior party officials.

Corbyn was last week suspended from the party after he claimed that opponents had ‘overstated’ the party’s problems with anti-Semitism.

Yet in a damning report on the issue, The Equality and Human Rights Commission found that Labour was responsible for “unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination” and that its leadership displayed serious failings in addressing the issue.

The row has now spilled over into Copeland’s Labour movement.

Labour Party officials confirmed that both councillors Higgins and Calvin were being investigated over a claim that they posted anti-Semitic Facebook comments. But the resignation of the councillors, who will sit as independents, means the investigation will be abandoned.

A spokesman for the Labour Party in the north said: “The investigation was into allegedly anti-Semitic Facebook posts. It was ongoing but now that that these two councillors have left [the Labour Party] that’s the end of it.”

He added: “Labour’s leadership is committed to the Party being an open and welcoming place for people from all backgrounds, and all communities.

“The Labour Party’s commitment to zero-tolerance of anti-Semitism Labour will act decisively against anti-Semitism in all its forms. If you’re anti-Semitic, you should be nowhere near this Party. And we’ll make sure you’re not.”

Councillor Higgins, who represented Egremont, added: “I resigned from the Labour Party because of what transpired with Jeremy Corbyn.

“I don’t agree with it. I don’t believe that it’s the right way for the Labour Party to proceed – to conduct a witch-hunt against anyone who stands up for human rights, no matter where they are in the world.

“That’s all I’ve got to say on the matter.”

Councillor McVeigh defended both of his now former Labour colleagues who have resigned, describing them both as "stalwart” community politicians. He said neither had an anti-Semitic bone in their body.

Councillor McVeigh said: “They are two absolute stalwarts of their communities. They don’t have an anti-Semitic bone in their body. They’re both friends of Jeremy Corbyn, and they don’t agree that he should have anything thrown at him.”

Both men felt strongly Corbyn had suffered an injustice. Councillor McVeigh added: “I am very sad about this. I’m devastated that they’ve decided to go [from Labour]. You will not get two harder working community politicians.

“They feel it’s unfair the way Jeremy Corbyn is being vilified by the Labour Party in this instance.”

“Both councillors were men of high principles, he said. He tried to persuade them to stay in Labour but they refused, he added.

He went on to say: “We have to put this into context: we as Labour members are borough councillors, looking at problems with housing, antisocial behaviour, bins being collected. We are not international politicians.”

The News & Star approached councillor Calvin, who represents Moor Row and Bigrigg, but he did not respond to our request for a telephone interview.