Labour Party being taken to the High Court

JVL Introduction

We post below a press release on behalf of the Labour activists for Justice who have been forced to take the Labour Party to the High Court.

The text below explains the case in broad outline and gives details of the individual activists involved.

The full writs as filed with the Court, will be published in due course.


Press release, 9th December 2020

LABOUR PARTY GOES BACK ON ITS PUBLIC ACCEPTANCE OF EHRC RULING

CASE GOES TO HIGH COURT

Seven members of the Labour Party today filed a claim in the High Court in light of the Party’s acceptance that its disciplinary process is unfair and not fit for purpose.  

The group of members, Labour Activists For Justice (LA4J) who have all been unjustly accused of undermining the Party’s ability to campaign against racism, have been working for six months to persuade the Party to improve its disciplinary process for the benefit of all members, but have been rejected at every approach. Last month the EHRC Report on its Investigation into Antisemitism in the Labour Party found that the Party’s disciplinary process was not fit for purpose, and recommended that the Party should put in place a new fair system.

When the EHRC Report came out, the Party said it would implement all the recommendations as a matter of urgency and would commission a new process. So LA4J approached the Party again to ensure that the Party did not continue with its investigations under the unfair process, only to be told the Report did not apply to them and the Party would continue to use the same disciplinary processes that were found to be seriously unfair by the EHRC. Today LA4J filed a claim in the High Court through their solicitors, Bindmans LLP, to ensure that the Party must now address what they and the EHRC say are multiple failures in its disciplinary process.

The points made by the EHRC are almost identical to the points made by LA4J, including:

  • the lack of clear guidelines on how antisemitism cases are judged – the Party has now confirmed that it uses a version of its Code of Conduct to judge what is antisemitic that it will not publish or even send to people under investigation,
  • withholding the identity of accusers without good reason,
  • a lack of fair process for the accused,
  • a failure to provide adequate reasons for the decisions made.

The members of the group, four of whom are Jewish, have all had disciplinary action taken against them and are currently under investigation over alleged rule breaches relating to antisemitism, which they strongly reject. They know that many other members are in similar situations. They are making this High Court claim because the suggestion in many cases, including their own, that there is anti-Semitic content in the evidence provided by the Labour Party is unfounded and offensive. They want a fair disciplinary process to be implemented for ALL Labour Party members where the criteria by which they will be judged are clear and public and the procedures are fair.

One of the group, Diana Neslen, an 81-year old Orthodox Jew said:

‘Throughout its history the Labour Movement has fought for the rights of workers, including the right to a fair and just disciplinary process. If any employer tried to impose the party’s process on their employees today, the Labour Movement and the unions would be up in arms. It is a disgrace that needs to be fixed.’

‘Over the last six months we have drawn the party’s attention to our concerns with several lawyer’s letters, but every time they refuse to address our arguments.  The idea that the EHRC Report does not apply to us is the last straw. A legal challenge is not a road we want to go down, but they have left us no choice.

LA4J’s Crowdjustice and other funding approaches have been, and continue to be, well supported by hundreds of individual contributors, many of whom have said they have donated or pledged precisely because we are taking action on behalf of ALL members.  However the likely costs of the action will run to  six figure sim, so LA4J would be grateful for any further contributions.

Link to the crowdfunding appeal: https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/justice-4-labour-party-members/

For further information contact Chris Wallis on 07973 818298

The Labour Party owes it to all its members to treat them with fairness and due process.

This should start now!


The Members of LA4J

Diana Neslen (age 81) is a General Committee delegate to Ilford South CLP. She is an Orthodox Jew.  She rejoined the Labour party in 2015 following the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader and is a member of Jewish Voice for Labour. She has been a long time Palestinian and antiracist activist. In September 2018, five months after the sudden death of her husband and while undergoing cancer treatment, she received a reminder of conduct from the Labour Party detailing eleven ‘offences’ she had committed.  All were social media postings related to Israel’s policies and conduct. There was no indication anywhere as to the identity of the complainants or the definition of antisemitism the Party was applying, and some of the postings predated her Labour party membership.  Although she contacted the Party to discover the nature of the ‘offences’, she received no response.  In May 2020, while shielding alone, she received a notice of investigation from an anonymous employee of the Labour party  detailing  seven items that required investigation for antisemitism. The complainants were again anonymous and the definition not based on the published code. Although she has made contact with the party to request further information and later on to explain the proper context in which what she said must be understood, they have at no time had the courtesy to reply. It is chilling that the Labour party feels emboldened to accuse a Jewish woman of antisemitism on the basis of a hidden definition, and by its unfair processes expose the truth of the EHRC findings about its unjust complaints process.

Jonathan Rosenhead (age 82) is Chair of Hoxton West branch and serves on the Executive of Hackney South and Shoreditch CLP. He first joined the Labour Party in 1962, and was a Labour Parliamentary candidate in 1966; he rejoined the party in 2015. His Notice of Investigation served in May 2020 cited as evidence i) a speech at the February CLP meeting nominating Jo Bird for the NEC, in which his mention of her well known ‘Jew-process’ joke was allegedly a disciplinary offence; ii) words which were incorrectly asserted to be part of his verbal evidence as a witness at Ken Livingstone’s disciplinary hearing in 2017; and iii) an article he had written in Open Democracy in October 2017 describing the launch meeting of Jewish Voice for Labour (but which of the 3000 words were problematic was not specified). His conduct is being judged on the basis of an unpublished version of the code.

Michael Ellman (age 83) is Auditor of Junction Ward branch of Islington North CLP. He is a practising Jew. He joined the Labour Party in 1980, re-joined in 2015, and is a solicitor and former Vice-President of FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights), who has fought for human rights and against racism all his life.  He proposed a motion in August 2020 to an internal branch meeting to reconsider the IHRA definition of antisemitism because it might stifle legitimate political debate, and substitute the Oxford English Dictionary definition, which was leaked to the Press by an unknown person and he was immediately suspended from the Party for conduct grossly prejudicial to the Party following a complaint by an unknown person.

Mike Howard (age 68) Member of Hastings & Rye CLP.  Active Labour Party member for over thirty-five years, holding office in six CLP’s during this time. Twice elected Hastings Borough Councillor. Retired (former office-holding) Unison life member. Unite Community, JVL and PSC. He is a Jewish, lifelong anti-racist whose family escaped the murderous pogroms in pre-war Russia/Poland and fought the fascists in their East London neighbourhood. Mike has suffered real anti-semitism, and finds it completely unacceptable that Labour Party HQ, knowing that he is Jewish, has not responded to his solicitors’ request to drop an anonymous complainant’s accusations of anti-semitism against him which is based on the process the EHRC found was unfair and based on a code the Party will not publish.

John Davies (age 66) Former Chair, St Michael’s Branch, Liverpool Riverside CLP. Member since 2015. He is accused of 7 instances of hostility or prejudice based on race or religion. The instances are mostly re-posts of material posted by others, including a former Israeli minister and a Palestinian doctor, and the charges are based on definitions of antisemitism in a version of an antisemitism code of conduct that the Labour Party will not publish. Mr Davies has been an active anti-racist all his life, and denies all the charges.

Colin O Driscoll (age 60) Vice Chair Labour International CLP (Labour Party’s International Section). First joined the Labour Party in 1978, rejoined in 2015 (pre-Corbyn). He is accused on the basis of social media posts of  ]various instances of misconduct. The complaint was made some time before May 2020, by a person or persons unknown. The charges were laid in 2020 as part of an express expulsion procedure. He strongly denies the charges, which again are based on an antisemitism code of conduct that the Labour Party will not publish.

Chris Wallis (age 71) Vice Chair Hazel Grove CLP (near Stockport) . Member since 2015 (pre-Corbyn). He is accused of 5 instances of conduct prejudicial or grossly detrimental to the party relating to racism, and in particular antisemitism. The complaint was made in December 2019 by persons unknown, but the charges were not laid till June 2020, and only then after he had requested an update from the Party as he was about to be Acting Chair of his CLP. He rejects the charges absolutely, which again are based on a version of an antisemitism code of conduct that the Labour Party will not publish.

For further information contact Chris Wallis on 07973 818298

Comments (32)

  • Rita Craft says:

    Good luck to all these young bloods as they take on the disappointing Labour Party on behalf of us all.

  • Allan Howard says:

    Given that the LPs so-called disciplinary process is a travesty AND was criticised by the EHRC, then how come the folks at the EHRC only ‘recommended’ (to the LP) that a new fair process should be put in place? What’s the point if they know that Starmer and Co can just completely ignore their recommendation(s) and carry on with present disgraceful and scandalous process!

    I don’t suppose anyone knows who it is precisely in the LP who decides how the disciplinary process should function, or how long the present process has been in place, or if it was ever any different……… what I DO know is that up until relatively recently (about two years ago) the Tory Party was quite content to have no jurisdiction over their members (only politicians and staff), and all it said on their website was something along the lines of: ‘If you believe a member ot the party has broken the law in some fashion please contact a solicitor’.

    And ANOTHER thing I know is that the security sevices have no doubt been monitoring Jeremy since shortly after he was elected a Member of Parliament, and the idea that the ‘Mural’ episode or the ‘English Irony’ episode or the ‘Wreath Laying’ episode etc only came to light – first one, then another, and then another – over a period of eighteen months or so AFTER he came so close to winning the 2017 general election is a joke! I mean it’s not as if Jeremy had anything to hide, so it would have been relatively easy for them to keep abreast of what he’s doing, who he’s meeting with, and what he’s saying and to whom, and ESPECIALLY so since the advent of PCs and mobile phones became the norm.

  • Ruth Dean says:

    Absolutely insane that the party paid off(using membership money) a case they could have won. Are now accusing members of anti semitism. This is clearly criticism of the state of Israel and not the Jewish people. We need to be allowed to criticise Israel the state in open and honest debate if any semblance of being a democratic organisation

  • Pam Bromley says:

    The accusations are nonsense, sending a message of solidarity.

  • Richard Pink says:

    Thank you for taking action to stop this injustice in the Labour party solidarity.

  • Terence Watts says:

    Best wishes and thank you for taking this stance. Solidarity

  • Victor (Vince) Martin says:

    It is a sad day when anti-racist Labour Party members are forced to go to law to obtain a fair hearing of the accusations made against them and their subsequent suspension or expulsion from the party but it is clearly necessary.

  • Doug says:

    That settlement should be investigated when we get our party back and those responsible should be pursued for the money

  • John Bowley says:

    A human rights lawyer with apparently no concept of fairness as Party Leader? I wish the campaigners for justice well.

  • Steven Taylor says:

    Solidarity. These cases and the political defence of these comrades is at the heart of the struggle for socialism.

  • Ikhlaq Hussain says:

    It is absolutely ridiculous for any party or even a person to bully these senior citizens.
    The party I am member of needs to learn to behave in much better way that it is behaving.

  • Taraneh Ahmadi-Parker says:

    This Is absolutely evil , the way that good hard working comrades been treated so atrociously. This in the middle of a pandemic and the worst Tory government and no deal Brexit … unforgivable.

  • Bernie Corbett says:

    These stories make me sick. That anonymous and vague accusations against lifelong socialists within the Labour Party can be processed in such an unfair way leaves me in despair. I am leaving the Labour Party. I will not “remain and fight” — if I did, I would just be targeted and suspended and disciplined. I will rejoin the Labour Party when it has come back to its senses — if I live that long. BC

  • Margaret West says:

    Well done – I hope that suspended Labour members will soon be free from their
    current state of Limbo.

    I hope too that this will be a lesson to those of the LP who only support a single voice from the current Jewish Community and seek to establish links with the wider group.

    I see you have prepared a Press release and am wondering if this will be reported at all in the MSM and am hoping to be pleasantly surprised ..

  • Richard Heybroek says:

    When common sense is inadequate to bring about rational dialogue and mutual understanding then more formal efforts are unfortunately required. Good luck and best wishes.

  • Lynn Plant says:

    It breaks my heart to see our party screwed over time and time again by supporters of apartheid.
    Solidarity to all these true Labour supporters 🌹

  • Hal England says:

    So glad I left the Labour Party.
    Its leadership and management practices of recent months appear, at least to my mind from the the reports I have seen, to prevent clear and open discussion on the issue of antisemitism.

    The way in which these matters are alleged to have been handled by the Labour Party are indicators of a much darker and unwelcome potential – the possibility of being accused by an unknown accuser and judged against a set of unwritten rules.

    In my mind that amounts to ‘legal mugging’!

    It is as though one has been hit from behind by an unknown assailant wielding an unidentified blunt instrument!

    I therefore applaud the action Labour Activists For Justice (LA4J) have taken in their effort to obtain clarity and justice for Labour members and indirectly the general public as a whole. I decry the fact that the Labour Party has created the necessity for LA4J to go to such lengths.

    It cannot be right to be accused of breaking unwritten or ill-defined rules.

    This matter goes to the very heart of both Substantive Law and Substantive Rights as well as Procedural Rights and Procedural Laws, which is essentially the substantive issue about which the 7 members of LA4J are seeking a legal remedy.

    I think it no exaggeration to say the British public at large will benefit from what, I hope, will be the resulting clarity.

  • Peter Wingate says:

    Extremely sad that these noble people have had to resort to the high court to seek redress and justice,. It wold appear on the face of it that there are members, probably high ranking in the LP who for reasons only know to themselves and perhaps certain ‘pressure group’s’ that pursue a vendetta against those that seek justice and balance in the Israeli Palestinian situation. The price of their support for this justice, it would appear, is expulsion from the party, and the need, as there is no clarity coming from LPHQ, to take the party to court. how sad have things become!

  • Dr Rodney Watts says:

    Pleased to make a further donation to the legal fund, now that the claim has been filed. It is important to recognise that this is not just a socialist cause but has ramifications for a considerable number of LibDems and all who desire fair and just systems.
    The formation of truthdefence.org with its particular interest in legally challenging the EHRC itself along with remedying Lawfare adds to the across the political spectrum interest in true justice with integrity. I am also glad to see that the launch of the Campaign for Free Speech tomorrow (Sat) includes Jonathan Coulter, a longtime LibDem campaigner and defender of Jeremy Corbyn, as a speaker.
    Whilst I have not renewed my LibDem membership, intending to join Labour, this will remain on hold until I see matters resolved.

  • Rita Maire says:

    Good Luck to all of you for having the courage to do this, behind you all the way.

  • goldbach says:

    Respect your decision, Bernie, but sad that you have left.
    I’m staying to make life as difficult as possible for the b*******s. (blighters?).

  • Lorraine Murphy says:

    Solidarity with you all, The LP’s Disciplinary Process would not be allowed in any Court in the land (at the moment). No accuser would be given this anonymity unless it was a matter of National Security. It appears that one person is responsible for 40% of these vile accusations and indeed that person would surely be barred from the Courts as a vexatious litigant

  • Roy R Anderson says:

    Although I have never been a Labour party member, I have been a socialist for around 50 years. I believe this is a case of supporting the Palestinian cause against the apartheid Zionist Israeli govt. Keep up the fight.

  • Anthony Baldwin says:

    Given that all those of us who still in the Labour Party despite having experienced some of the injustice that is described here I would urge all of them to do what I did yesterday and complete the Party’s request to members.
    The ten questions relating to making the Party better able to defeat the Tories and how best to capitalise on its strengths is a superb framework to reinforce the needs for strengthening the Democratic basis: supporting members and their CLPs is obviously the bed rock for the future and this entails the dropping of a dictatorially minded Acting Gen. Sec. and the exclusion of all those who refused to Campaign for the Party in the last GE. W have no need for those like John McTernan declaring what our policies should be without recourse to the consideration of the Membership through their CLPs and the Conference process.
    Don’t miss the opportunity we have bee given.
    Solidarity to all Socialist Democrats and particularly to those involved in this case.
    If you haven’t yet shown your support financially please do so as soon as possible.

  • Kevin Marjoram says:

    Unbridled support to the LA4J seven who seem to be victims of the unqualified application of an intentionally vague and duplicitous IHRA definition. It should never have been adopted by Labour as a kneejerk response to politically motivated accusations of anti-semitism in the party.

  • steve mitchell says:

    It is about time this matter is heard in a court of law. None of the evidence I have seen points to institutional antisemitism . None of it will stand up to real scrutiny . Before our Party can even think of unity the truth has to be established. At the moment the Labour Party is irrelevant Its soul has been mortally wounded by the actions of its leader.

  • Ken Webb says:

    Despotic power. Were the Labour Party a government they would be guilty of this. As it is they only ride roughshod over their own members and politicians. I would prefer to be writing this about the Tory Party. Throughout history we have witnessed people wrongly accused and convicted of ‘crimes’, usually against a tyrannical state. It harks back to the advent of New Labour and the right of centre program that it initiated. Old Labour members, from councillor upwards, were silenced and quietly removed from office. I know of many long serving councillors that were dropped and replaced by these ‘new’ thinkers. Truth is they never went away. Many have passed now, my parents amongst them. Post Corbyn gave true labour a new chance. The despots now see his current situation as the final nail in the coffin of Socialism. Using our Jewish friends and members as an excuse is closer to AntiSemitism than those accused.
    They will fight hard to retain their ill gotten position within our party, so I would urge everyone to get behind this fight for equality and justice.

  • Margaret West says:

    I see that the response by the NEC to the EHRC were presented
    on 10th December – so we shall await with interest what they have
    to say about it.

  • Naila Malik says:

    Good luck and I pray that we win this case against those people who doesn’t want anybody criticising state of Israels policy and it’s not fair as a member of Labour party and citizen of UK who claim to be democratic than why complaining when we criticise the policy which is against International law,against UN resolution and against human right.This is all done by Israeli lobbyist and Zionist .What is Labour leader leader doing about this?

  • Nick Pile says:

    A vital contribution to the debate. And nowhere is there a more important sentence than that in Steve Mitchell’s post: “Before our Party can even think of unity the truth has to be established.” I, like many others, am heartily sick of exhortations from self-confessed “former supporters of Jeremy Corbyn” (by which you can usually tell that they were no such thing) to “get behind the leadership.” The Party has been, and continues to be sabotaged by senior players, first in working to throw general elections, now to intimidate serious members by threats, suspension and expusion. Until that particular boil is lanced there can be no trust, and if there is not trust there can be no party unity.

  • J. Millington says:

    Respect. Non one will get anywhere while supporting Stalin. I have cancelled my membership to the LP

  • Jude Kelman says:

    Great respect for you all. In solidarity. In time I hope we get a proper Labour Party back

Comments are now closed.