The EHRC Report – critical evaluations / 4

JVL Introduction

Many interesting analyses of the EHRC Report are being produced and we will be reposting a selection.

Doing so does not imply that we endorse all the points made in these analyses but, in our view, all add important insights.

The fourth reposting is a statement from the recently formed Truth Defence, “a group of activists and professionals seeking to promote a culture of honesty and integrity at the heart of public life.

This article was originally published by Truth Defence on Thu 29 Oct 2020. Read the original here.

TRUTH DEFENCE: statement on EHRC Report

 

The EHRC’s investigation into anti-Semitism in the Labour Party failed to consider vital evidence it was made aware of. Truth Defence is supporting a group of Jewish members of the party – including Truth Defence directors and co-founders Justin Schlosberg and Andrew Feinstein – who are seeking to mount a legal challenge the EHRC’s ruling.

 

Today, the EHRC published its long-awaited report into the Labour Party’s handling of anti-Semitism complaints, which followed substantial media attention. In addition to making critical comments about the failure of the previous leadership of the party to handle the issue effectively, the EHRC report has also made an adverse legal finding against the Labour Party that it violated provisions in the Equalities Act.

The EHRC’s report and findings, however, are nullified both in law and in fact by the EHRC’s failure to engage with substantive and relevant evidence. As the EHRC’s findings indicate, the EHRC refused to engage with the material included in the so-called ‘Leaked Report’, including the very substantial supporting primary evidence such as emails and messages held on Labour Party servers.

What was in the ‘Leaked Report?’

The ‘Leaked Report’ was compiled on instructions from the previous General Secretary (Jennie Formby) with a view to providing the EHRC with evidence relevant to its terms of reference. Indeed, the EHRC’s regulations make it clear that a failure to make such evidence available to the EHRC would constitute a legal breach of the Equalities Act. For reasons yet to be fully disclosed, the ‘Leaked Report’ was not submitted formally to the EHRC. However, a full and unredacted version of the report was thereafter leaked to the media.

The ‘Leaked Report’, running at over 800 pages and drawing on tens of thousands of underlying evidentiary documents, provides compelling proof that attempts by the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn to properly deal with anti-Semitism complaints were thwarted by Labour Party employees for factional reasons. The ‘Leaked Report’ quoted at length from correspondence that showed that some of the most senior Labour Party officers openly pined for the failure of the Labour Party under Corbyn in order to meet their factional ends. The ‘Leaked Report’ also included lengthy conversations via Whatsapp groups established to conduct Labour Party work in which the same Labour Party members made numerous misogynistic and racist comments against Labour Party employees and MPs such as Dianne Abbott.

The EHRC Refuses to Consider the Evidence Underlying the Leaked Report

In the Executive Summary, the EHRC’s findings note that:

‘After the Labour Party submitted its final evidence to us, an 850-page report titled ‘The work of the Labour Party’s Governance and Legal Unit in relation to antisemitism, 2014-2019’ was leaked to the press on 12 April 2020. We were not informed that this report was being prepared and it remains unpublished. It was not proportionate for us to require the Labour Party to provide the evidence underlying the report.

We have considered the leaked report and taken it into account where appropriate. However, we have done so while bearing in mind that we have not seen all of the evidence on which the conclusions in the leaked report were based.’

In the body of the EHRC’s report, it is further noted that:

After the Labour Party submitted its final evidence to us, an 850-page report titled ‘The work of the Labour Party’s Governance and Legal Unit in relation to antisemitism, 2014-2019’ was leaked to the press in April 2020.

We were not informed that this report was being prepared. The Labour Party did not submit the leaked report to us, and it contains evidence and information that the Party has not provided to us. This includes personal communications relating to antisemitism complaint handling, which the Party did not provide at the time we requested them. We have considered the leaked report and taken it into account where appropriate, while bearing in mind that we have not seen all of the evidence on which the conclusions in the leaked report were based.

Ignoring Key Evidence Invalidates the Report’s Findings

The EHRC is legally required to establish the full truth of the matters before it as far as is possible, and making findings thereon. To do so, the EHRC must, both logically and legally, consider all evidence that speaks to the matter. The EHRC is, of course, entitled to make findings that people disagree with after reviewing such evidence; but it is not entitled to simply ignore and dismiss material evidence.

It is abundantly clear that the EHRC should have engaged seriously and substantially with the ‘Leaked Report’, and that it could only have done so if it had given proper consideration to the very large amount of underlying primary material that informed the ‘Leaked Report.’

The EHRC failed to request the Labour Party provide access to the underlying primary material through a search of Labour Party servers. This is a profound and serious investigative failure that fatally undermines the results of the investigation. It is bizarre that the EHRC states that requesting it was ‘not proportional’ to ask this of the Labour Party when, at the same time, it confirms that the Labour Party had failed to provide correspondence and other evidence that the EHRC had requested but which was included in the ‘Leaked Report,’ and that the correspondence revealed by the ‘Leaked Report’ was material to the matters under investigation.

In light of the above, we believe that there are strong legal grounds to review the conduct of the EHRC and the findings it has made in relation to the Labour Party.

The EHRC Has Let Down the Labour Party, Jewish Community and the Country

There is no place in society for anti-Semitism, including and especially in the Labour Party, which has been dedicated to fighting racism and all form of prejudice for over a century.

The EHRC’s investigation should and could have shed light on this issue in a manner that empowered the Labour Party and civil society to stamp out anti-Semitism wherever it rears its head. Unfortunately, by ignoring key evidence, the EHRC has not only failed to do its duty, it has let down the country and the Jewish Community, which called out for a fair, full and meaningful investigation into this highly charged matter.

Truth Defence was established by Professor Justin Schlossberg and Andrew Feinstein in 2020. Truth Defence seeks to challenge the abuse of claims of anti-Semitism for factional or political purpose, and to challenge the misinformation that flows from these attempts.

 

Links to all JVL statements and other articles on the EHRC report

Comments (4)

  • Benny Ross says:

    Kol hakavod (Hebrew phrase meaning literally “all the honour”) to the authors of this article, whose names suggest that they are from Jewish families, for continuing to argue for a balanced consideration of all the evidence. They will either be decried as traitors and anti-semites, or — much more likely — ignored and silenced. Now more than ever, the reporting of this whole affair seeks to suppress any dissenting Jewish voices.

  • Richard Samson says:

    Important service from Truth Defence.

    Malicious claims of anti-semitism shame the memory of the victims of the Shoah.

  • Marge Berer says:

    Thank you, Richard Samson. Your comment, “Malicious claims of anti-semitism shame the memory of the victims of the Shoah”, should be the main slogan of the campaign to withdraw the suspension of Jeremy Corbyn.

  • Doug says:

    You have the best wishes of all fair minded Labour members and millions of supporters who just want to have their day in court
    JVL saved my sanity, good luck and kind regards to Truth Defence

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