Get on with the investigation into the contents of the Report!

JVL Introduction

Skwawkbox is absolutely right:

“On legal grounds and on his own words, two-thirds of Keir Starmer’s ‘urgent’ investigation are redundant.

“He must focus all effort and resource on investigating those who, in all likelihood, prevented Labour becoming the party of government the knife-edge 2017 general election.”

On the same issue, John McDonnell in an interview with Sky News, stressed that the EHRC “should have everything, warts and all”, saying: “We’ve got to rid ourselves of this culture that prevented us a Labour government.”

McDonnell added: “People should be treated fairly overall. And, of course, the investigation will look into these matters, but just as other members, when serious charges have been made against them, have been suspended, I think this should happen. And if the investigation finds that this report is accurate, these members should be expelled.”

This article was originally published by SKWAWKBOX on Sun 19 Apr 2020. Read the original here.

Starmer’s probe into ‘commissioning’ of leaked report is a red herring. Party had duty to because of lawsuit and EHRC

Labour leader Keir Starmer last week announced an ‘independent’ investigation into the leaked internal report that accused right-wing headquarters staff of insulting colleagues, obstructing disciplinary processes – and sabotaging Labour’s 2017 by-election and general election campaigns.

But Starmer’s strangely-structured parameters for his investigation have raised concern among members and party insiders that he is going after the staff who created the report and the whistleblowers who leaked it, rather than the staff who were paid to work for Labour and are accused of doing their best to undermine it:

We have seen a copy of an apparently internal report about the work of the Labour Party’s Governance and Legal Unit in relation to antisemitism. The content and the release of the report into the public domain raise a number of matters of serious concern.

We will therefore commission an urgent independent investigation into this matter. This investigation will be instructed to look at three areas. First, the background and circumstances in which the report was commissioned and the process involved. Second, the contents and wider culture and practices referred to in the report. Third, the circumstances in which the report was put into the public domain.

We have also asked for immediate sight of any legal advice the Labour Party has already received about the report.

In the meantime, we ask everyone concerned to refrain from drawing conclusions before the investigation is complete and we will be asking the General Secretary to put measures in place to protect the welfare of party members and party staff who are concerned or affected by this report.

Two out of the three areas of scope for the investigation concern the staff who investigated the behaviour of former HQ staffers and the whistleblowers who brought the investigations findings into the public domain.

But the first – Starmer’s investigation of ‘the background and circumstances in which the report was commissioned’ – is a naked red herring that needs no investigation at all.

Because Labour and its general secretary Jennie Formby had a legal duty to do so.

Legal duty

The party is being sued by a number of former staff who appeared in last year’s BBC Panorama programme accusing Labour of failing to deal with antisemitism complaints and protect Jewish members – and a key plank of their attempt to sue is that Labour responded to the programme by saying that those interviewed were politically motivated.

To defend the party against the suit, Labour was obliged to look into their conduct and messages during their time as employees and any political motivation it revealed – and had a duty to its members to do its utmost to protect their interests and investment.

And as the journalist who originally published information on the leak noted, they found far more than they bargained for.

A similar obligation exists because of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) investigation into Labour’s handling of antisemitism complaints. The party has a duty to investigate and provide its findings to the EHRC – and it found that right-wing party staff were failing to deal with, and in some cases obstructing, investigations into various complaints, not only concerning antisemitism.

Related: Right-wing Labour staff shredded thousands of disciplinary documents – but gave copies to press

And the party had every right to access the messages contained in the report. The SKWAWKBOX understands that some were provided to Labour by one of the participants-turned-whistleblower – and some were accessible either because those involved used a party messaging system, or because participants had used their Labour email to send archives of the chats to themselves.

In all those cases, Labour has a right to access the information – and being able to access it, the party had a duty to do so on at least two counts.

Whistleblower protection

In addition, Keir Starmer said in February that whistleblowers must be protected – and he must protect those who blew the whistle on the alleged conduct of former (and a few current) Labour staff when the party decided not to release the report into that conduct.

On legal grounds and on his own words, two-thirds of Keir Starmer’s ‘urgent’ investigation are redundant.

He must focus all effort and resource on investigating those who, in all likelihood, prevented Labour becoming the party of government the knife-edge 2017 general election.

Anything else is a diversion and a smoke-screen.

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Comments (3)

  • Edward Hill says:

    If we accept the “Unite behind Starmer to cleanse Labour’s shame” message from another article published by JVL, we may appreciate how the Labour Party is gaining from the legal experience of its new leader.
    One of the earliest pragmatic lessons learned would surely have been: if you have no chance of establishing your innocence, you plead guilty in exchange for a lighter sentence; you co-operate with the officers making the charges; you refrain from confronting your accusers. Starmer has apologised, accepted the demands of the B.O.D., and defended the actions of the ‘Panorama’ whistleblowers.
    By setting up a three-pronged investigation, he will increase the chances of a balanced report. Any independent investigator will most likely have prior knowledge of the issues gleaned only from the mainstream media. and may end up attributing most of what happened to ‘factionalism” – on the part of the right for the mass expulsions and undermining of Corbyn (no use crying over spilt elections); on the part of the left over commissioning, and leaking, of the orginal report.
    Starmer will hope to declare a draw, get the two sides to shake hands, and move on to earning parole from the Board by displaying good behaviour.

  • Dr ALAN MADDISON says:

    Just on the issue that some are saying this leaked report is proof that Labour has an antisemitism ‘problem’.
    It isn’t.
    If by ‘problem’ we mean more than elsewhere.

    There were 1201 members for whom sufficient evidence has led to allegations being actioned….that is 0.24% of members.

    We know from various surveys that even Holocaust denial is found in 2-5% of the general population, and a huge 13% even believe in a global Jewish banker conspiracy.

    All surveys show agreement with antisemitic tropes and hatred of Jews is lowest on the Left.

    Had members of other political parties been subject to the same degree of retrospective social media trawling, we may have been able to discover whether the Labour Party had a particular ‘problem’.

    So I shall continue to criticise antisemitism (and more prevalent forms of racism) everywhere I find it, but will continue also to challenge those who describe Labour as a ‘cess-pit of antisemitism’. This leaked report does not change that.

  • prof emeritus Ellie Palmer says:

    In his pitch for power, Keir Starmer has not only made play of his status and reliability as a high ranking member of the legal profession but also of his credentials as a human rights lawyer.
    Throughout this protracted anti-semitism ‘crisis’ the bullies -MSM, PLP and social media ) have relied on their superior economic power to threaten legal action against their victims. .
    Sir Keir Starmer and Union apologists who wish to ‘move on’ should need no reminding that the fundamental right of ‘access to justice’ (without fear or favour) enshrined in the unwritten constitution of the UK is non negotiable.

Comments are now closed.