Court hears application for Labour documents disclosure in Corbyn case

JVL Introduction

Jeremy Corbyn’s legal action against the Labour Party, demanding that the Labour whip be reinstated, is underway.

A High Court hearing on an application for forced disclosure of Labour Party documents took place on 18th January.

LabourList reports.

This article was originally published by LabourList on Mon 18 Jan 2021. Read the original here.

Court hears application for Labour documents disclosure in Corbyn case

An application for forced disclosure of Labour Party documents – that Jeremy Corbyn’s legal team believes could prove there was a deal around his readmission to the party – was heard in a High Court hearing today.

The judge who heard the application, Master Sullivan in the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court, has not yet delivered her judgment. She said she would do so “in writing as soon as I can”.

The lawyer instructed by the Labour Party in Corbyn v Evans, Rachel Crasnow QC, denied claims that a deal was reached with Keir Starmer’s team on Corbyn’s readmission.
Corbyn’s lawyer, Christopher Jacobs, argued that there are documents to disclose because there are “drafts and redrafts” of Corbyn’s second statement – released on the morning of Labour concluding his disciplinary case – in “messages and emails”.

LabourList understands that even if the pre-action disclosure application of Corbyn’s team is unsuccessful, a case will go ahead on the basis of the claim that the second whip suspension was not procedurally fair.

Corbyn’s barrister confirmed today that they would be applying for an injunction to restore the Labour whip immediately and stop a second investigation into the same matter that was already investigated by the party.

Asked for comment on the legal action by Sky News, Starmer said: “I don’t want to see the Labour Party tied up in court proceedings. I want to see the Labour Party out there campaigning.”

It was confirmed in the virtual court proceedings that the investigation by Labour’s governance and legal unit (GLU) into the original complaint against Corbyn did not find that he had engaged in prejudicial conduct.

The GLU decided – in the words of Corbyn’s lawyer – that there was “no prejudicial conduct”, “no overtly discriminatory language” and “no hostility or prejudicial intent” in the Facebook post that led to Corbyn’s suspension.

The GLU report stated that its probe “has not found that Mr Corbyn had engaged in conduct that is prejudicial”. It left the question of his conduct being “grossly detrimental” for a panel of Labour’s ruling body to decide.

Ahead of the potential litigation, the MP’s team submitted a pre-action disclosure application, saying the documents revealed would be a “vital ingredient” in their case and save costs (as the case would otherwise have to be amended).

“This is not a fishing expedition,” Corbyn’s barrister told the hearing. He argued that his client “doesn’t wish to make allegations of bad faith without closely examining the evidence” and therefore needs the disclosure.

The bad faith allegations are based on the Labour Party rulebook statement that members have the right “to be treated fairly by the Labour Party” and party officers must “exercise their powers in good faith”.

The judge Lisa, Sullivan replied, however, that the applicant has “a prima facie claim” outside of the bad faith allegation “on the basis of procedural unfairness”, as procedural fairness is also required by party rules.

Crasnow accused Corbyn’s lawyer of a “fishing expedition” and a “change of tack” in his latest arguments, and of emphasising the bad faith argument to “maximise the chances of pre-action disclosure”.

The former Labour leader is a party member but currently sits as an Independent MP because the whip has been suspended for three months pending an investigation conducted under Parliamentary Labour Party rules.

Corbyn was suspended in October after claiming that “the scale of the problem was… dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents”, but was reinstated as a member by Labour’s ruling body in November.

LabourList reported in November that Corbyn’s team was starting legal proceedings and preparing to submit a pre-action disclosure application in a bid to prove that there was a deal with Starmer’s office for the reinstatement.

A Labour source rejected this claim at the time, saying: “Any accusation that this was a deal or an attempt to determine the outcome of the [national executive committee] panel and disciplinary process is wrong.”

There is disagreement over whether there was “much more than lobbying” and a deal was brokered, as Corbyn claims, or there was dialogue to get Corbyn to apologise for the EHRC response but no deal, as Labour sources claim.

It was stated in the hearing that the next step of the Labour Party’s new process – via the Parliamentary Labour Party – is for Corbyn to meet Labour chief whip Nick Brown, and that this has not yet taken place.

Corbyn’s lawyer also told the hearing that 82 local parties have expressed support for the ex-leader and 37 members have been suspended as a result of what they have said in relation to issues around the suspension.

Comments (9)

  • Margaret West says:

    Thank goodness for Sienna Rodgers and her report in LabourList. There has been little or nothing in the MSM about the matter.

    I am glad also that the feelings of local parties have been reported – in lawyerly language at least. In reality of course – CLPs have been outraged ..

    I am sure that some Labour Party members wished the matter could be pushed under the carpet – as with the Forde enquiry .

    All power to the elbow of the legal team in making sure this does not happen ..

  • John Bowley says:

    What a lot of hypocrisy from a Labour Party bad bunch sitting over Jeremy.

    Keir says that he wants the Labour Party to be campaigning. Get real, Keir. Your mass suspensions are numbing enthusiasm. My own CLP secretary, a loyal, thinking, hard working woman, is another suspended without reason.

  • John McLaughlin says:

    Jeremy Corbyn is the greatest mp of our time’s

  • goldbach says:

    A Labour source rejected this claim at the time, saying: “Any accusation that this was a deal or an attempt to determine the outcome of the [national executive committee] panel and disciplinary process is wrong.”
    – so, surely, there is no reason why the party should do anything other than disclose the documents.

  • Allan Howard says:

    I have little doubt that Jeremy was told that if he could clarify that he wasn’t implying that ‘concern’ about A/S in the party had been overstated (when he said what he said in his statement the day the EHRC published its report), then his suspension from the party could probably be resolved. And that is why he posted a statement on FB to THAT effect in the early hours of the morning (about 2.00am if I remember correctly) on the day that he was later reinstated late in the afternoon.

    The MSM in general – and numerous shills all over social media – painted Jeremy as having done an about turn, and that he was now saying the opposite of what he said that led to his suspension. And if it WAS the case that he was told that if he could make that clarification etc – which I have little doubt it WAS – then Jeremy was tricked by the leadership as such, because there were absolutely no grounds for taking any disciplinary action against him for what he said (on the day the EHRC published its report AND in response to it). In other words, he would have been reinstated anyway had he not posted the clarification, but by asking him to do so, he was made to look like he had caved, AND, made to look like his principles had gone out the window so as to get himself reinstated. And they had the left in mind in particular – ie his supporters – when they came up with the scam.

    Clever stuff…… in a devious, deceitful and totally corrupt way!

  • George Wilmers says:

    “surely, there is no reason why the party should do anything other than disclose the documents”

    Is this Goldbach’s second conjecture? Let’s hope this one is resolved rather more speedily than the first conjecture which remains unsolved after 279 years. I suspect the answer to this one is negative however.

  • Janice Perl says:

    Corbyn is ” the greatest mp of our times’s” according to John McLaughlin in his comment above.
    What I would assert is that Corbyn is the worst leader of our party since inception.
    Sorry but I could not give a hoot if Corbyn was in or out the party.
    If John McDonnell was our leader we would have swept into power !!!

  • Harry Law says:

    “It was confirmed in the virtual court proceedings that the investigation by Labour’s governance and legal unit (GLU) into the original complaint against Corbyn did not find that he had engaged in prejudicial conduct”.
    The prejudicial conduct came from Starmer, who claimed that Corbyn was an Anti Semitism denialist, trying to minimize anti Semitism within the party, he did no such thing, the Commission said Corbyn had every right to give his opinions on the report. In my opinion Starmer should not have tried to influence the NEC panel by publicly smearing Corbyn and by saying that Corbyn was guilty even before the NEC panel had a chance to meet. Then saying Corbyn should be “nowhere near the Labour party”. Starmer is a disgrace to the Labour party and the legal profession.

  • Emma says:

    I’m glad to be able to read about this article thanks to labour list and Jewish voice for labour,I too have seen nor heard any of this news reported on the mainstream media.this however does not surprise me as this it seems is how some of them operate.i hope justice wins the day for Mr.Corbyn.

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