COLCHESTER councillors stood together in their condemnation of racism and anti-Semitism.

Colchester councillors adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism at a recent meeting.

Darius Laws (Con) said he had witnessed racism and reported hate crimes to the police.

He said: “I was walking home late at night along North Station Road and I saw three individuals outside a curry house who I didn’t think it looked right.

“The curry house owner came out and suggested they needed to go home.”

Mr Laws said one of the men responded with a racist comment.

The Conservative group leader said he had also seen what he believed to be an antisemitic poster in the window of a house in Maldon Road, Colchester.

“As community representatives we must do all within our power to call out racism, discrimination and bigotry in all its forms,” he added.

Other councillors raised different examples of racism and discrimination, and all agreed any kind of hatred towards minority groups is unacceptable.

Adam Fox (Lab) said: “As community leaders we are on the side of the people of Colchester.

“It’s not always easy for us to stand up for what is right, but if we councillors don’t do it, who will?

“Groups facing racism need to be listened to. We have both a legal and moral duty.”

A motion to accept the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's (IHRA) definition of anti-semitism was backed in a named vote at a full meeting of Colchester Council last week.

Only Lorcan Whitehead, Labour councillor for New Town and Christchurch abstained.

The IHRA's definition states: "Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews.

"Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

The issue has proved to be divisive within the Labour Party amid claims outspoken critics of Israel were being antisemitic.

One of the main issues Jewish people face, according the IHRA, is: "Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour."

In September, the Labour Party adopted the definition, but with an extra statement, stating the adoption should not undermine free speech on Israel.

Party leader Jeremy Corbyn proposed a longer additional statement - which would have allowed criticism of the foundation of the state of Israel as racist - but this was not accepted by the party's ruling executive.

Abstaining from the vote in no way means Mr Whitehead advocates discrimination towards Jewish people. 

Mr Laws added: "Adopting the IHRA definition of antisemitism shouldn't be controversial.

"It was written to help those suffering from or fearing anti-Jewish racism and it has been adopted by the UK and Scottish governments, the Welsh Assembly, the CPS, the police, the judiciary and hundreds of local councils.

"At a time of growing antisemitism on both the far left and far right, it is important that every single councillor in Colchester sends the message that Jewish people are welcome and valued members of our community, and that we will do all in our power to protect them from hatred and harm.

"It is shameful that a hard left Colchester Councillor did not support the council's adoption of the IHRA definition."

Essex Police encouraged anyone who has been a victim of hate crime to report it, either directly, or by visiting one of the 55 hate incident reporting centres across the county.

A spokeswoman for the police said: “We will not tolerate hate crime and want people to have the confidence to come forward and report it.

“If you have been a victim of a hate crime, please contact us on 101 or report online at

“Always ring 999 in an emergency.

"If you do not wish to speak to us straight away, you can also visit a Hate Incident Reporting Centre.”