The British Labour party has suspended its former leader Jeremy Corbyn, after a government watchdog found his office broke equality law through its "inexcusable" handling of anti-Semitism complaints.

The development came after Mr Corbyn said he refused to accept all the findings of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report, in defiance of the party's new leadership under Keir Starmer.

"In the light of his comments made today and his failure to retract them subsequently, the Labour party has suspended Jeremy Corbyn pending investigation," a spokesman said.

He said that Mr Corbyn, who has continued to sit as a member of parliament after stepping down as leader, will also no longer count in the ranks of Labour MPs.

The EHRC found damning instances where Mr Corbyn's leadership team underplayed, belittled or ignored complaints by Jewish members, and sometimes actively interfered to support favoured allies, after a deluge of anti-Semitic abuse online and in party meetings.

We need your consent to load this rte-player contentWe use rte-player to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

Luciana Berger, a former Labour MP who was one of many Jewish members to quit the party under Mr Corbyn, said the report was vindication as she described being threatened by his supporters with acid attack, stabbing and rape.

"The party facilitated a culture of bullying, bigotry and intimidation against Jewish people from within its ranks. At every step of the way, Jeremy Corbyn enabled this to happen," she wrote in a blog.

In one of his first acts after replacing Mr Corbyn in April, Mr Starmer apologised to Britain's Jewish community, and today he vowed to accept the entirety of the findings from the EHRC's two-year investigation.

"I found this report hard to read and it is a day of shame for the Labour Party," Mr Starmer told a news conference, renewing apologies also to Ms Berger and other Jewish members who left the party in droves.

"I can promise you this: I will act. Never again will Labour let you down. Never again will we fail to tackle anti-Semitism," he said.

"The Labour Party accepts this report in full and without equivocation," he said, vowing implementation immediately and "in full".

Responding to the report, Mr Corbyn said anti-Semitism was "absolutely abhorrent" and insisted his team had launched internal changes to tackle the problem from 2018.

But he said he did "not accept all of its findings". 

"One anti-Semite is one too many, but the scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media," he added.

Mr Starmer refused to say whether he would now expel Mr Corbyn and his allies from the party but said Labour had suffered a "collective failure of leadership".

"Those who deny the problem are part of the problem," he added.

Mr Corbyn was propelled from the backbenches to become Labour leader in 2015 after decades of socialist activism, including for Palestinian causes. 

Among his supporters, criticism of Israel veered often into anti-Semitic tropes and anti-Jewish conspiracies.

"Our investigation has highlighted multiple areas where (Labour's) approach and leadership to tackling anti-Semitism was insufficient," the EHRC's interim chair, Caroline Waters, said in presenting the 129-page report.

"This is inexcusable and appeared to be a result of a lack of willingness to tackle anti-Semitism rather than an inability to do so," she said.

The commission said that under Mr Corbyn, Labour was guilty of three breaches of Britain's 2010 Equality Act for political interference in complaints, failure to provide adequate training to those handling anti-Semitism cases and harassment of complainants.

But it stopped short of launching legal proceedings, instead ordering Labour to draft an action plan by 10 December to remedy its failures. 

Mr Corbyn triggered a leadership election after Labour suffered a hammering in a general election last December, which returned the Conservatives to power under Prime Minister Boris Johnson. 

The Board of Deputies of British Jews and two other Jewish organisations said the report was a "damning verdict on what Labour did to Jews under Jeremy Corbyn and his allies".

"We welcome the start that Keir Starmer has made, but the scale of the challenge that lies ahead should not be underestimated," they said.