Labour antisemitism investigation will not be sent to equality commission

Iain McNicol, Labour Party General Secretary from 2011 to 2018

JVL Introduction

Sky News reports and quotes at length an internal Labour Party investigation showing that anti-Corbyn factions deliberately sabotaged discipline procedures to put the leadership in a bad light over handling of antisemitism allegations. It says the report has not been included in Labour’s evidence to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission.

<<… The 860-page report, seen by Sky News, concluded factional hostility towards Jeremy Corbyn amongst former senior officials contributed to “a litany of mistakes” that hindered the effective handling of the issue.

The investigation, which was completed in the last month of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, claims to have found “no evidence” of antisemitism complaints being treated differently to other forms of complaint, or of current or former staff being “motivated by antisemitic intent”… >>

We await further developments…

This article was originally published by Sky News on Sat 11 Apr 2020. Read the original here.

Labour antisemitism investigation will not be sent to equality commission

A report found factional hostility towards Jeremy Corbyn amongst former senior officials contributed to “a litany of mistakes”.

Sky News Exclusive

An extensive internal investigation into the way Labour handled antisemitism complaints will not be submitted to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, after an intervention by party lawyers.

The 860-page report, seen by Sky News, concluded factional hostility towards Jeremy Corbyn amongst former senior officials contributed to “a litany of mistakes” that hindered the effective handling of the issue.

The investigation, which was completed in the last month of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, claims to have found “no evidence” of antisemitism complaints being treated differently to other forms of complaint, or of current or former staff being “motivated by antisemitic intent”.

Image: The investigation was completed in the last month of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership

Instead, the report concludes there was a lack of “robust processes, systems, training, education and effective line management” and found “abundant evidence of a hyper-factional atmosphere prevailing in Party HQ” towards Jeremy Corbyn which “affected the expeditious and resolute handling of disciplinary complaints”.

As well as 10,000 separate emails, the dossier uncovers thousands of private WhatsApp communications between former senior party officials and singles out for criticism some who gave whistleblower evidence to last year’s highly-critical BBC Panorama investigation on antisemitism within Labour.

These include the former General Secretary Lord McNicol and the former acting head of the governance and legal unit, Sam Matthews.

Those involved in compiling the huge dossier insist it was intended to provide additional context to the equalities watchdog and supplement the party’s main submissions to the investigation into institutional antisemitic racism.

Indeed the report directly addresses the EHRC on several occasions, including urging the watchdog to “question the validity of the personal testimonies” of former members of staff and to “focus instead on the documentary, primary-source evidence that the Party has made available”, leaving little doubt as to the intention of its authors that the document be submitted to the investigation.

However, Sky News understands party lawyers have told General Secretary Jennie Formby the report entitled: “The work of the Labour Party’s Governance and Legal Unit in relation to antisemitism, 2014 – 2019″, should not be submitted to the Commission, due to fears it could damage the party’s wider case.

A Labour Party spokesperson disputed the suggestion the report was ever intended to be submitted to the EHRC, saying:”The Party has submitted extensive information to the EHRC and responded to questions and requests for further information, none of which included this document.”

It is understood party lawyers consider the document to be a draft internal report covering a time period and breadth of issues that are not within the scope of the watchdog’s investigation, and that it should be used to inform and enhance the party’s understanding of the situation.

But that decision has prompted widespread concern amongst those who worked in the most senior positions in the leadership office of Jeremy Corbyn, with one telling Sky News: “This report completely blows open everything that went on”.

“We were being sabotaged and set up left right and centre by McNicol’s team and we didn’t even know. It’s so important that the truth comes out”, the source added.

Image: Iain McNicol was the Labour Party General Secretary from 2011 to 2018

The report claims private communications show senior former staff “openly worked against the aims and objectives of the leadership of the Party, and in the 2017 general election some key staff even appeared to work against the Party’s core objective of winning elections”.

The report says the WhatsApp communications in question, which included some of the most senior figures in the party headquarters and Lord McNicol’s office, were leaked by one of the group’s members.

The examples from chat archives published in the document include:

  • Conversations in 2017 which appear to show senior staff preparing for Tom Watson to become interim leader in anticipation of Jeremy Corbyn losing the election
  • Conversations which it is claimed show senior staff hid information from the leader’s office about digital spending and contact details for MPs and candidates during the election
  • Conversations on election night in which the members of the group talk about the need to hide their disappointment that Mr. Corbyn had done better than expected and would be unlikely to resign
  • A discussion about whether the grassroots activist network Momentum could be ‘proscribed’ for being a ‘party within a party’
  • A discussion about ‘unsuspending’ a former Labour MP who was critical of Jeremy Corbyn so they could stand as a candidate in the 2017 election
  • A discussion about how to prevent corbyn-ally Rebecca Long-Bailey gaining a seat on the party’s governing body in 2017
  • Regular references to corbyn-supporting party staff as “trots”
  • Conversations between senior staff in Lord McNicol’s office in which they refer to former director of communications Seamus Milnes as “dracula”, and saying he was “spiteful and evil and we should make sure he is never allowed in our Party if it’s last thing we do”
  • Conversations in which the same group refers to Mr. Corbyn’s former chief of staff Karie Murphy as “medusa”, a “crazy woman” and a “bitch face cow” that would “make a good dartboard”
  • A discussion in which one of the group members expresses their “hope” that a young pro-Corbyn Labour activist, who they acknowledge had mental health problems, “dies in a fire”

The investigation also accuses the former General Secretary Lord McNicol, and other senior figures of providing “false and misleading information” to Jeremy Corbyn’s office in relation to the handling of antisemitism complaints, which the report claims meant “the scale of the problem was not appreciated” by the leadership.

The report claims McNicol and staff in the Governance and Legal Unit “provided timetables for the resolution of cases that were never met; falsely claimed to have processed all antisemitism complaints; falsely claimed that most complaints received were not about Labour members and provided highly inaccurate statistics of antisemitism complaints”.

Responding to the messages cited and the allegations made against him in the report, Lord McNicol said: “The energy and effort that must have been invested in trawling 10,000 emails rather than challenging antisemitism in the party is deeply troubling.

“This a petty attempt to divert attention away from the real issue. It is telling that the Party’s own lawyers appear to have ruled that this information was unsuitable for submission to the EHRC’s ongoing investigation.

“I have repeatedly stood by the professional staff of the Labour Party who I worked with over the seven and a half year period I was General Secretary, and continue to do so.”

The report also claims Sam Matthews, who served first as Head of Disputes and then as acting Head of the Governance and Legal Unit, “rarely replied or took any action, and the vast majority of times where action did occur, it was prompted by other Labour staff directly chasing this themselves”.

It states that there was a failure to develop “detailed or coherent guidelines for investigating complaints based on social media conduct” and a failure to “implement the Macpherson principle of logging and investigating complaints of racism as racism”.

Following what the report describes as a “systematic review” of all complaints received between November 2016 to February 2018, it claims investigations were initiated into only 34 of the more than 300 complaints received in relation to antisemitism.

“At least half of these warranted action, many of them in relation to very extreme forms of antisemitism, but were ignored. Almost all of these complaints were forwarded from one inbox to another, and many of them were identified as Labour members and sent to the Head of Disputes, Sam Matthews, for action”, the report claims.

In a statement to Sky News responding to the leaked report, Sam Matthews said: “This latest episode comes as no surprise to me, as an effort by a disgruntled faction who are floundering in their attempts to blame others in order to distract from matters that will be investigated by the EHRC and the Courts.

“I hope Keir Starmer will stand by his commitment to undo the damage that they and their supporters have caused.

Mr Matthew continued: “The proper examination of the full evidence will show that as Head of Disputes and Acting Director, I did my level best to tackle the poison of anti-Jewish racism which was growing under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

“A highly selective, retrospective review of the Party’s poor record, not deemed good enough for submission by the Party’s own lawyers and conducted in the dying days of a Corbyn’s leadership in order to justify their inaction, simply cannot be relied upon.”

 

Comments (12)

  • Bob Marsden says:

    “ … party lawyers consider the document … should be used to inform and enhance the party’s understanding of the situation.”

    Therefore published to the Party membership, including those in JVL.

  • Margaret West says:

    A huge amount of intolerance was generated in Europe (beginning around 2014) and particularly in this country during “Brexit” . This arose principally from the refugee crisis and was whipped up by right wing factions. Intolerance, sometimes including violence, included incidents involving islamophobia, antisemitism, xenophobia.
    I certainly saw much nastiness both on the web and in the MSM
    and it is evident the Labour Party did not escape from this.

    I am amazed – maybe naively- that the MSM has blamed Corbyn
    for this – as if nothing else happened in 2015 apart from his leadership of the Labour Party !

    It was already known that there was a poor initial response to
    complaints of antisemitism in the Labour Party and a lot of time
    was taken in clearing up the backlog and improving the complaints procedures. I think that there is still much to be done.

    I am glad that the contents of the report of the background to this
    have been made available to Sky News and hope that note
    has been taken by Keir Starmer.

    I hope this will also be taken up by the rest of the MSM, including the BBC, but I won’t hold my breath.

  • Graeme Atkinson says:

    What a surprise? The Labour right and its pliant bureaucrats behave like gangsters. I am really shocked. I never knew that.

    This report should be made downloadable so we can all get the full measure of their filthy campaigns to undermine the party’s democratically elected leadership.

  • John Dunn says:

    No surprise there, then. The greatest failure of the Corbyn leadership was not clearing out these scabs and saboteurs. Labour is doomed if it does not eradicate these scum.

  • Philip Ward says:

    It’s not up to the LP’s lawyers to decide whether or not this dossier goes to the EHRC. As far as I can tell from their web site, anyone who gets hold of it could submit it, although the EHRC would have the discretion to disregard it, as it is 8 months past the submission date. As we know, the JLM has submitted all kinds of junk. So who’s going to be first to make the new dossier public so it can be submitted?

  • Jan Brooker says:

    The Report is now *out there* and downloadable. So it’s public, and any member could forward it to the EHRC.

  • Peter Smith says:

    The full document is all over social media, so anyone can now read it.

  • Carolyn Gelenter says:

    Talk about twisting the truth back on itself. It seems more and more that this type of response of turning the blame back on the person who raises an issue of legitimate discrimination or injustice, is the uniform tactic being used against people who have legitimate claims of sexism, racism and bigotry and other forms of discrimination. In America it is taking the shape of counter -suing the MeToo or Black Lives Matter cases on the basis of damage to reputation of the accused!
    I think we need a campaign to pressure Starmer to take this issue up and offer an apology and expel those members clearly responsible for the loss of the election.

  • Christopher Grace says:

    If the report is in the public domain, the JVL should themselves now submit the report to the EHRC as evidence.

  • Mike Scott says:

    Here is a link to to the full report:

    https://t.co/foVGpjUjZy?amp=1

    Spread it round – this is a defining moment for Starmer and for socialists in the LP.

  • RC says:

    Mike Scott’s link does not work. However, if you look through the LAW website you can find a better link which worked for me: “it can be found here” where ‘here’ is the link. The authors accept most allegations of antisemitism uncritically, including Corbyn’s truckling to BoD etc and even much of the so-called LAAS allegations – which they do concede comes from a vexatious source. So their entire logic is apologetic. It repays detailed but critical study. What it does make clear is the rabid hatred of much of the then LP staff for any sort of socialism or any resistance to imperialism, and their preference for Tory over socialist policies.

Comments are now closed.