Row over Labour’s payout to whistle-blowers deepens

JVL Introduction

Who did authorise newly appointed General Secretary David Evans to make a payment to the disgruntled whistle blowers?

It certainly wasn’t the NEC, supreme authority in the Party between conferences. That body wasn’t even consulted…

This article was originally published by Skwawkbox on Sun 16 Aug 2020. Read the original here.

NEC members demand Evans explain on who authorised him to ban members from discussion and votes on Starmer’s surrender pay-out and EHRC report

Clear that NEC did not authorise action ruling out discussion of £600,000 pay-out

Elected members of Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) have demanded that the party’s new general secretary David Evans explain who authorised him to send an email to local party (CLP) chairs and secretaries banning discussion and votes on Keir Starmer’s £600,000 pay-out to ‘whistleblowers‘ involved in last year’s widely-criticised Panorama programme, as well as of the impending report by the EHRC on its investigation.

Labour members were not consulted on the decision not to fight a case the party’s lawyers said it could win – and on Friday night Starmer refused twice (video) to deny that he had gone against legal advice in the expensive pay-out that has emboldened Labour’s enemies.

But it seems that members of the NEC were not consulted either, even though the body is the party’s supreme authority – below the party’s annual conference of member and affiliated delegates.

That was made clear by a tweet from longstanding NEC member Rachel Garnham:

I and other left Labour NEC CLP reps have written to the General Secretary asking on whose authority his recent email, apparently prohibiting discussion of certain topics, was circulated; and expressing deep concerns about this attempt to curtail political discussion in CLPs.

NEC member Rachel Garnham

The ban was no trivial matter, with Evans telling CLP officers and members that they were bound by the party’s ‘unreserved apology’ and could be legally liable if they dared to contravene it. Yet according to Rachel Garnham, the NEC knew nothing about it before it the threatening email was sent.

Labour members have reacted with similar outrage to being told what they are allowed to discuss. Evans has previously said, before his appointment, that ‘representative democracy’ should be abolished within the party ‘as far as possible’.

Comments (34)

  • Doug says:

    Good news for JVL
    What do you think a judge will make of a settlement that was made for political reasons and ultra vires
    Screams out they are determined to hide the facts of the case

  • Esther Giles says:

    I’ve written to the GS about this too:
    Dear David

    I am writing in the light of the reported decision to pay out an estimated six-figure sum to the former staffers who claimed defamation following the BBC Panorama investigation into allegations of anti-semitism within the Labour Party. I understand the figure concerned to be in the region of £600,000.

    I have reviewed the Labour Party Rule Book and find that it does not contain a schedule of delegation for financial decisions. For a figure of this size, I would expect the matter to be referred to the Board or equivalent (presumably the NEC) for scrutiny of the recommendation to pay, together with the the evidence supporting these recommendations.

    Please can you:
    provide to me the schedule of delegation used by the Party so that I can see the relevant requirements for a decision of this type?
    tell me who the decision makers were?
    tell me who will review and agree the minutes of the relevant meeting, and who has access to these minutes?

    Many thanks

    xxxxxx
    Membership number: xxxxx
    Secretary xxxx CLP
    MA; MSc; CPFA

  • Esther Giles says:

    Doug
    If there’s no schedule of delegation for decisions, then the decision might not be ultra vires. The schedule of delegation is key. And if there isn’t one, then there should be. ASAP. I would expect the SoD to be endorsed at Conference, but don’t know how we deal with this if there isn’t a SoD and there isn’t a Conference.

  • dave says:

    Hold on – abolishing representative democracy to a large extent got us Jeremy Corbyn as we got one member one vote in leadership elections. Of course, Evans did not envisage this as he was trying to get rid of union power in favour of OMOV and never thought he’d see a mass membership party with a lot of left wing members. So it backfired for him.

    Surely what’s happened with the payouts and ban on discussion is that Evans and Starmer have gone behind the NEC’s back or they are exploiting a loophole. So no democracy of any type in play. The NEC seems to have been very slow to react on the payouts (although they may not have been made yet).

  • Ann Lewis says:

    Have the payouts been made yet? If not could payment be stopped?

  • Mary Davies says:

    We can’t take this suppression of democracy lying down.

  • nitram says:

    We either fight this fascism or leave, staying and letting the “moderates” ignore all rules is exactly the same as leaving but they get to keep our dues. We all have to follow all the rules.

  • DJ says:

    This should be a rallying call for everybody who believes in more democracy, not less in the labour movement. We can see the Brexit populist government moving towards authoritarianism. They can expect obedience from MSM journalists. For the Labour Party to follow suit by abandoning basic principles of our movement like open discussion on issues where differences exist is self defeating.

  • Harry Law says:

    One of the comment links in the Skwarkbox article from a Barrister Duncan ShipleyDalton which could have easily have been missed…….

    The NEC and therefore the GS has no authority in the rules to dictate what is ‘competent business’ for a CLP to discuss. The only authority is in Chap 1, VIII, 3.E-“The NEC shall from time to time, issue guidance and instructions on the conduct of meetings…” CONDUCT not CONTENT
    9:54 PM • Aug 12, 2020•Twitter Web App

  • If there is no delegated authority to spend £600,000 of members’ (corporate) money surely David Evans and Kier Starmer are still entitled to pay money to whomsoever they please ….. as long as it is money they have right of disposal over, namely money from their own pockets.

  • MAX COOK says:

    Starmer and Evans and the rest of the right wing labour MP’s dont control me, and they NEVER will .

  • Jack says:

    The so called ‘whistle blowers’ are nothing of the sort, they are collaborators in the plan to bring down Jeremy Corbyn. For saboteurs of a prospective Labour Government to be rewarded for their treacherous behaviour, is outrageous beyond belief.

  • This decision can only be fought by members and CLPs/wards simply refusing to abide by David Evans instructions. He clearly has no authority to give such an instruction by himself. However the NEC is likely to back him.

    The decision of Starmer and Evans to make the payouts is not ultra-vires legally. A court will not normally look into the decision making process within an organisation. They will assume that the legal representatives who have agreed this and whoever is actually signing off on this is empowered to do so. They will not look behind the veil in other words.

    And if it has already been endorsed by the court there cannot be an appeal since all the court did was ratify an agreement between the parties. For an agreement to be unravelled there would have to be some evidence of criminal conduct by one or both of the parties e.g. that it was as a result of a behind the scenes sweetheart deal.

    It is clear that this is a political not a legal decision and that is how it should be challenged

  • David Flynn says:

    This ban on CLPS debating these very serious party issues is a bloody disgrace, as are the topical issues it seeks to ban discussion on. This draconian censorship attempt must be overturned forthwith, it is outrageous.

  • Carmen Malaree says:

    We must oppose this dictatorial move. It contravenes all democratic procedure in any institution which represents its members when taking decisions on free speech and debate within it.

  • Dave Hansell says:

    The parasitic sectarian elite which infests the Labour Party across the political spectrum has long since been open in its disdain for and rejection of objective due process norms and standards in favour of whatever subjective self defined reality exists inside their heads. How else does one interpret the position in which a subjective allegation automatically equates to guilt with no rights to a defence?

    It should come as no surprise that any form of meaningful democracy is also publicly rejected in favour of elite mob rule.

    This disdain for due process under the law and democratic norms which have been hard won is, in the real world, not simply an internal matter – as some would either wish or deliberately fail to see. The Party has already been punished at the ballot box for such a stance, losing vital Parliamentary seats which voted to leave the EU. Whether I or anyone else subjectively likes that or otherwise is irrelevant to that objective reality.

    The current stance on these matters is untenable as most voters with a working brain cell will take the view that it would be dangerous for their own due process and democratic rights to give power over them to those who have openly demonstrated their willingness to play fast and loose with those rights. A fact in which it can be guaranteed the Corporate Media will constantly remind electorates at both local, regional and national elections.

    Which is the whole point of the exercise. As their false idol pronounced in 2015, these people have no intention of winning on the basis of any form of democracy – all forms of which they regard as mere “populism.”

    Consequently, anyone serious about achieving meaningful change has some hard choices to make.

  • Les Hartop says:

    In most organisations \ companies, there are processes that dictate particular authorised people sign off certain levels of expense.

    If these rules exist in the Labour Party, and the names are not shrouded in bureaucracy, then shouldn’t it be possible to confirm whether the rules were followed, and discipline (sack?) and maybe prosecute anyone who did not go through the correct authorisations for this level of expenditure ?

    If the money has not yet been paid, could a threat of prosecution be used to dissuade any individual from transferring the money or signing the ‘cheques’ ?

    Could a group of members make legal challenges like these ?

  • Martyn Meacham says:

    It is time that this blatent corruption was answered by the removal of all involved, and banning them from the Labour party for life.

  • Malcolm Ede says:

    This payout is disgraceful. We need to know, as Labour Party Members and contributors to party funds, who authorized this spending of £600,000 of our funds to these people.
    If Keir Starmer authorized this payment, on his own authority, then he should make the payment from his own funds. Members contributions should not be used for this purpose.
    Malcolm Ede.

  • John Bowley says:

    As I recall, Starmer did his rotten deal with the disloyal staff, which wasted loads of our contributions, which was against legal advice, which avoided consultation with most of the NEC and which avoided any consultation with Labour Party Members, by himself. Starmer is staging a fait-accompli, a right wing elitist takeover coup which goes far beyond his elected role as a leader of a democratic socialist party. And we are not long after input to the Forde Inquiry formally closed. I see no reason why anyone should be bound by counterproductive obligations set up basically by Starmer. And what a choice of general secretary. Our democratic socialist Labour Party is on its way to being changed to a top down Fuhrer style conformist sham.

  • Anthony Baldwin says:

    I suppose that being within the Westminster Bubble, seeing what the Johnson/Cummings cabal can get away and knowing the McTernan methods of usurping Party Rules which Progress used for so many years, that the present Leadership believe that they have the right to run rough shod over the Rule Book.
    Making decisions like this can only lead to the Party being split with the majority of the PLP supporting Starmer whilst the membership, who worked so hard to put them in Westminster, are regarded as being those who McTernan described at the time of Jeremy Corbyn’s first Election as Leader, as being,’necessary idiots and fools’ and their CLPs, ‘nothing but Tumble Weed organisations!’
    These are the ‘minds’ behind the Leadership who will do to the Party what they achieved so spectacularly in Scotland when they employed exactly the same methodology. Unless this situation can be changed there is no doubt that 2019 will be looked back on as a year of qualified success especially when those creating the disconnect think about the Party’s position and situation post 2003 when compared either to 1997 or 2017.

  • Mervyn Hyde says:

    The only solution to me is that Starmer is removed by a vote of no confidence of the membership, the real problem we face though is people’s innate loyalty to people with starmer’s credentials, those being a sir and legal background.

    So if the members are to challenge him, we need to mount a massive information campaign that shows how he has overstepped his responsibilities as leader and brought the party into disrepute.

  • Wojciech Dmochowski says:

    The pay-out and subsequent banning of CLP discussions of this whole matter are an outrage. The members are the party, not the paid employees and elected representatives.

  • Ruth Sharratt says:

    “the body is the party’s supreme authority – below the party’s annual conference of member and affiliated delegates.”
    Um, members are the party’s supreme authority. This is delegated to the conference and the NEC. Let’s not forget, the Labour Party is its members not its elected officers

  • Jacqueline butterworth says:

    If this gets settled- for example no payout and full disclosure of all the backstabbing emails etc I may rejoin the Labour party

  • Doug says:

    Esther Giles
    My observation was an educated guess, I completely support you in your efforts to clarify the situation, would that include the original legal advice
    I also believe our leader will argue it was in his personal manifesto to settle this case, well as others have pointed out that should be out of his own pocket
    Regards

  • rc says:

    Many illusions above: the individual membership is not the supreme authority – conference is the supreme authority of a federal party, whose affiliates express the claim of the party to represent the working class as a whole. If you wish to throw a ‘Christine Shawcroft’ and tell the trades unions to get out, think it through carefully. Of course, all the above is the ‘dignified’ not the ‘efficient’ constitutional situation. All needs subjection to representative democracy – a long struggle.
    That struggle will be opposed tooth and nail by the oligopolistic media, who love bonapartist leadership (beloved by Blairites) as the best expression of capitalist power. To expect their support for democratising the labour movement is utopian lunacy.
    We need a revolution to overturn the rule of the capitalists/landlords and their lawyers. It will take a very long time indeed, so best to get started soon.

  • Sue Dockett says:

    It is interesting that Dave Evans who ran the Croydon Trade Union Resource Centre along with Stephen Wakeford local SW secretary in the earl 80s, the Dave Evans who was arrested for collecting for the miners outside Croydon Safeway in ’84, who was a Labour Councillor when Mary Walker a TU member and supporter was party leader in Croydon and the trade unions and Labour Party shared a centre at Ruskin House in Croydon is now party to undermining TU influence and democracy in the party.

  • Susan Hammond says:

    Nobody I know took any notice of it as it was a laughable and stupid thing to do. You can not shut us up even if you want to Mr Starmer. To implement a gagging order is more the behaviour of a dictator.

  • Nick Pile says:

    Tony Greenstein’s lucid explanation of the legal position of the payment suggests that since the court has merely ratified the decision (and has not been asked for a view on its legality or constitutional status) it has to be down to the members to mount a challenge unless, of course, Starmer and Evans make the payment from funds of their own. Does anyone know whether anyone is considering such a challenge?

  • Phil Marshall says:

    I thought this was a democratic party not a plutocracy!

  • Margaret Johnson says:

    The Labour Party seems to be turning from a democracy to a dictatorship. I refuse to leave at this point. I missed the call for funding a legal challenge but no doubt it will come around again.

  • John constable says:

    Where is the democracy in these actions by “leadership” ?

  • rc says:

    In some places, calling for the abolition of representative democracy is conclusive proof of extremist ideology.. Time for old bill to call in Prevent (or is it the other way round?) .
    What a cultural and political gutter Blairism constitutes.

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