Labour Party wins: all members lose – the LA4J case

Labour Activists for Justice

We have now received the judgement on our case. It was extremely disappointing; the court relied on the facts as presented by the Labour Party, largely ignoring or dismissing our evidence to the contrary.  However, the judgment is not the whole story and the proceedings have achieved some significant successes.

To recap from our previous post, we asked the judge to rule on three issues:

  • The applicants were judged by the Party using an unpublished code of conduct.  It was unfair to judge people according to a code they had not seen.
  • The EHRC had condemned the disciplinary system and suggested it was unfair.  The party had accepted the findings and agreed to implement all the changes identified.  Since these had not as yet been implemented, it was unfair for the claimants to be judged under a system condemned by the EHRC. People will remember that the EHRC found that respondents received particularly unfair treatment.
  • The confidentiality clause was unfair to the claimants in that it prevented them from getting support and advising colleagues as to their situation.

All three claims were dismissed, meaning that the Court ruled against us on all three issues.

These are the positive outcomes to the entire proceedings:

  • The first is that the Labour Party published the NEC Code of Conduct on Antisemitism in March 2021 as part of its Rule Book. This Code had been put forward in 2018 by Corbyn when he was Leader and aroused so much antagonism at the time, that the Party claimed that the reason it was not publicly available was because doing so would have been ‘incendiary’. So our case has forced the Labour Party to be transparent in making clear the guidance it uses in adjudicating on accusations of antisemitism.  And this demonstrated the hypocrisy of those who condemned the Code when published under Corbyn, but accepted it without a word of opposition under Starmer.
  • The second positive is about confidentiality. We know that members have been stifled by this issue, with some feeling that they cannot even explain to their local CLP or their partners why they have been suspended, for fear or provoking further disciplinary action against them. In effect the Court determined that the confidentiality provisions in the Notices of Investigation do not have contractual backing: they are simply requests for confidentiality.  Any sharing of information about disciplinary processes should therefore only be subject to disciplinary proceedings if the disclosure breaches specific rules in the Rule Book. This is an important finding because it means that members subject to disciplinary proceedings can talk about them and provided they do not fall foul of other clauses in the Rule Book, make their cases public. Also the NEC proposed at its June meeting the creation of a ‘Code of Conduct on Confidentiality and Privacy’, to be finalised at the body’s next full meeting. This looks to be a direct consequence of our case.
  • Thirdly, of the original thirteen claimants, the party backed down by ending its disciplinary actions against five of them before the preliminary hearing and all were cleared of having committed any offence. This included several claimants who had been suspended for several years without any information as to the charges against them.

It is noteworthy too that the judgement handed down by the court confirmed the EHRC’s view that improvements had been made to the complaints procedures in the period of Corbyn’s leadership.

The Court confirms, as expressed in the judgement, that Labour Party is effectively a member’s club and that members have a contractual relationship with the Labour Party and the Rule Book forms the basis of this contract. We think that Labour Party members are entitled to feel that their membership goes beyond the type of relationship that an individual would have with say, a tennis club or a charity, given the Party’s collectivist, democratic roots. Indeed the Party is constantly making demands for support from activists, while arguing in Court it should be free to treat its members how it pleases without oversight and interference This leads us to conclude that the Party may have won its case against us, but if it carries on treating its members this way, it will have lost its future.

As Diana Neslen says: “I think it’s a pyrrhic victory because it shows the Labour Party has learned nothing on how to treat its members.

In the end we keep on fighting and hopefully the wind will change.”

Costs were awarded against us so we need to continue to ask for substantial donations to pay for the claimants’ liabilities for those costs. Furthermore, the ‘cancellation’, as the Labour Party calls it, of Colin O’Driscoll’s party membership raises other serious issues concerning the Labour party’s treatment of its membership. Therefore we want to also crowd fund to pursue these specific issues going forward, including misuse of the fast-track procedure.

Please give generously if you can and share widely!

You can find the full text of the judgment here.

Read more about the case in this article by Ammar Kazmi

Comments (15)

  • Pam Laurance says:

    What a shame…with a little victory on the confidentiality issue.

  • It goes without saying that this outcome is extremely disappointing and I’m sorry for all the 8 members.

    However it also shows that the judiciary have an inexorably conservative bias and will certainly do their best to give the party establishment the benefit of any doubt.

    In my own libel case against the CAA, which has just lost at the final hurdle at the Court of Appeal (assuming we don’t go to the Supreme Court!) the ruling in 2019 by Nicklin J that calling someone an antisemite was a matter of opinion not fact, set the scene for subsequent defeats. Ludicrous as the judgment is.

    I am not in principle opposed to going to the bourgeois courts but we should remember back to the High Court judgment which overturned the Labour Party’s imposition of a £25 charge on Labour supporters to wanted to vote in the contest between Corbyn and Owen Smith. That decision, which was legally unchallengeable, at least I thought it was, was overturned in a nakedly political decision by a bench which included someone with close links to New Labour.

  • Prof Ellie Palmer says:

    Access to Justice ( for all) is the fundamental principle of the unwritten UK constitution. Its hard to believe that a Labour party led by a self – acclaimed leading human rights lawyer could have sunk so low. I will continue to support these cases to the limits

  • Jack T says:

    It would appear that whenever there is a court case with left/right or establishment elements competing, the judgement usually goes in favour of the right/establishment. The concept of ‘British Justice’ when associated with ‘fair play’ is just a myth.

  • Anthony Baldwin says:

    In terms of transparency and honesty it will be interesting to see how this news is dealt with by the Party.
    In terms of funding the costs involved it might be a suitable gesture for all those who have been members of the Party but who have cancelled the subscriptions then paid the equivalent amount into the appropriate Crowd Funding Account. We simply cannot have individuals being financially crippled by fighting for the rights of all members .
    In effect we need unity and solidarity to be seen in action.

  • Doug says:

    This is incomprehensible, what next

  • Anthony Sperryn says:

    Ammar Kazmi has written a useful article about the matter. In my view, the key sentence in it is “What this case has proven is that Labour is simply beyond repair”. Members and trade unions should take note.

  • Margaret West says:

    It seems that the judgement has been made using existing Party rules and procedures. To quote Sienna Rodgers concerning the way that the Party has treated Labour women in the Mike Hill case:

    “Labour says it followed its rules and procedures throughout. This only shows they are not up to scratch.”

    (from https://labourlist.org/2021/07/the-mike-hill-employment-tribunal-another-gut-punch-for-labour-women/)

    In other words the Labour Party on each of these issues has got away with the absolute minimum – and this is made worse by the fact that the EHRC agrees with Siennas opinion.

  • Doug says:

    What this proves is that Red Tories are adopting a scorched earth policy, so that Labour become unelectable
    JC came to close, so their thoughts are we cannot allow this to happen again
    We need to frame this more as a fight to the death for heart and soul of our party
    RaV
    Return and Vote
    You will be remembered for where you were and what you did in the ‘Battle’
    Regards Comrades

  • Ted Alleyne says:

    In view of the confidentiality finding, can the evidence against these members now be published? That would be helpful, I think.

  • Ellie Green says:

    Commiserations, everyone. This is the raw power of money, and to me represents foreign interference in the democratic process of a supposedly sovereign state, and is the latest of a series of body blows by the zionist establishment against justice, democracy and truth. It’s also evident that the Party Rulebook provides little security for our movement against determined attack by entryists or those with destructive agendas.
    Don’t we need to set up an independent, parallel legal unit to address the task of revising the rules, whether for the existing LP, or for a refreshed socialist alternative? Would luminaries like Michael Mansfield advise, pro bono??

  • Janet Elizabeth says:

    “a refreshed socialist alternative” !! oh yes please, and soon. I regret having joined the LP, which was because I wanted to support JVL as I’m not Jewish, and Corbyn’s leadership. I’ve never felt so hurt, disappointed and ultimately utterly disgusted by the corrupt, dishonest and vicious manner this organisation treats its paying members .Sincere sympathy with those lovely people now badly failed by a so-called justice system – I couldn’t sleep after reading about the outcome. Agree with all the comments above, but somehow all the many left movements, groups, etc must unite to fight this together… “a house divided against itself cannot stand” and that surely will be the fate of what was once a great movement for equality and justice for working people as opposed to the wealthy, privileged elite; it is the latter who now appear to control not only the LP but the justice system as well.

  • Dave Hansell says:

    The comparison I would make in regard to this judgment is that it is, at least in part, based on the same legal fiction as UK employment contract law.

    UK employment contract law starts from and is based on the [false] premise that both parties – the employee and the employer – are legal individuals and are therefore, by definition, equal in every respect in regards to the contract and its legal applications. Despite the very large disparity in the respective resource base between a individual worker and the vast majority of large employer organisations.

    Hence the need for collective representation of employees through trades unions.

    The power disparity and dynamics operating within the Party between the organised bureaucracy and hierarchy on one side and the volunteer cadre on the other are both legally and in every practical sense not dissimilar as that between a worker and employer.

    The resources are all on one side. To the extent not only of the many examples arising from the situations which drove this case but also in regard to the consistency of the Party and people employed by it [supported by pips on shoulder merchants seeking a career on the back of fellow activists] in playing fast and loose with the legal liabilities of volunteers.

    From attempting to use copyright logo’s on election materials without the Agents permission – which risked legal action against not just the Party but also the volunteer agent – through to misusing supplied members data outside of GDPR and campaign overspending with an Agent on paper who had quit shortly after volunteering.

    The level of professionalism is abysmal and only continues to exist as a result of this feudal structure and process which abuses volunteers and members alike for careerist political ends rather than being serious about doing the business.

    Time perhaps for LP members to form their own Union.

  • Doug says:

    We forget that when we get the chance to change the party, we fail miserably to be as ruthless as our enemies
    To soft, nice, decent and reasonable
    Which part of the internal report do we not get, there is no room for Red Tories in the Labour party
    Start with Blair

  • Allan Howard says:

    You can’t be what you’re not Doug. And any ‘ruthlessness’ on Jeremy’s part – had he been capable of it – would have back-fired on him anyway. When four-fifths of the PLP are hostile to you, along with the Establishment, and their black propaganda machine, the MSM, and the BoD and the JLM and CAA and LFI and CST and Jewish newspapers, whatever he’d done would have been painted in a negative light, along with mountain-loads of faux outrage. He was suspended on a falsehood, and then three weeks later after he was reinstated, faux outrage (in response to him being reinstated) got him, in effect, thrown out of the Labour Party.

Comments are now closed.