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Labour Antisemitism Full Report

The work of the Labour Party’s Governance and Legal Unit in relation to antisemitism, 2014 – 2019

The Labour Party, March 2019

Below is the full report of 851 pages, into the investigation of the allegations of antisemitism against Jeremy Corbyn (or a lack thereof). You can also download the original PDF by clicking here.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction and Executive Summary………………………………………………………………………………. 10

1.1. Executive Summary………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 11

1.2. Scope and Sources…………………………………………………………………………………………………… 19

1.3. Structure………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 24

  1. The work and role of the Governance and Legal Unit in internal Labour Party politics ………….. 27

2.1. The use of the Governance and Legal Unit for factionalism…………………………………………… 28

2.2. The 2016 leadership election…………………………………………………………………………………… 118

2.3. Case studies: factionalism in the Governance and Legal Unit………………………………………. 155

  1. The Governance and Legal Unit’s handling of antisemitism disciplinary cases, 2014 – ………………

February 2018…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 171

3.1. The Governance and Legal Unit’s processes and practices, 2015-16…………………………….. 172

3.2. Inaction on antisemitism: November 2016 to February 2018……………………………………… 238

3.3. The relationship between LOTO and GLU pre-2018……………………………………………………. 304

  1. The transitional period between General Secretaries, February 2018 – April 2018………………. 378

4.1. The move to action on antisemitism: February 2018………………………………………………….. 379

4.2. “Palestine Live” and the case of Glyn Secker……………………………………………………………… 427

4.3. The transition from Iain McNicol to Jennie Formby……………………………………………………. 457

4.4. Assessment: LOTO, GLU and suspensions…………………………………………………………………. 519

  1. Efforts outside of the Governance and Legal Unit to tackle antisemitism……………………………. 565

5.1. Summary………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 566

5.2. Jeremy Corbyn’s statements and proposals………………………………………………………………. 569

5.3. Action when Jennie Formby started as General Secretary…………………………………………… 585

5.4. Conclusions…………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 617

  1. The Governance and Legal Unit’s handling of antisemitism disciplinary cases, April 2018 – present 619

6.1. Statistics……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 620

6.2. Reforms to the roles of the NEC and NCC………………………………………………………………….. 642

6.3. Building a team……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 670

6.4. Decision-making on antisemitism cases, March 2018 – March 2019…………………………….. 697

6.5. Decision-making on antisemitism cases, March 2019 – present…………………………………… 748

6.6. Problems encountered and solutions found……………………………………………………………… 791

6.7. Prominent cases…………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 820

6.8. Proactive approach on antisemitism………………………………………………………………………… 832

  1. Conclusion…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 848

 

Table of Contents (full)

  1. Introduction and Executive Summary ………………………………………………………………… 10
    • Executive Summary …………………………………………………………………………………….. 11
    • Scope and Sources ………………………………………………………………………………………. 19
    • Structure
  2. Introduction and Executive Summary ………………………………………………………………… 10
    • Executive Summary …………………………………………………………………………………….. 11
    • Scope and Sources ………………………………………………………………………………………. 19
      • The EHRC investigation ………………………………………………………………………….. 20
      • This report ……………………………………………………………………………………………. 21
    • Structure …………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 24
  3. The work and role of the Governance and Legal Unit in internal Labour Party politics

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 27

  • The use of the Governance and Legal Unit for factionalism ………………………….. 28
    • Summary ………………………………………………………………………………………………. 29
    • Introduction ………………………………………………………………………………………….. 33
    • Context …………………………………………………………………………………………………. 34
    • The role of Labour staff …………………………………………………………………………. 37
    • Labour staff approach to work under Jeremy Corbyn …………………………….. 57
    • Regional staff ………………………………………………………………………………………… 67
    • The 2015 leadership election – “Validation” …………………………………………….. 70
    • Staff appointments and culture ……………………………………………………………… 74
    • The LOTO – Labour HQ relationship ……………………………………………………….. 80
    • The 2017 general election ……………………………………………………………………… 85
    • Factionalism and the Governance and Legal Unit ……………………………….. 106
    • Conclusions ………………………………………………………………………………………. 117
  • The 2016 leadership election ……………………………………………………………………… 118
    • Summary …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 119
    • 2016: The “Coup” …………………………………………………………………………………. 121
    • The “Validation” process ………………………………………………………………………. 128
    • Staff review …………………………………………………………………………………………. 138
    • NEC review ………………………………………………………………………………………….. 143
    • Results ………………………………………………………………………………………………… 147
    • “Validation”, antisemitism and impact ………………………………………………….. 151
    • Conclusions …………………………………………………………………………………………. 154
  • Case studies: factionalism in the Governance and Legal Unit ……………………… 155
    • Summary …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 156
    • Ian McKenzie ……………………………………………………………………………………….. 157
    • Manjit Panesar and Syed Siddiqi ………………………………………………………….. 164
    • Conclusions …………………………………………………………………………………………. 170
  1. The Governance and Legal Unit’s handling of antisemitism disciplinary cases, 2014 –

February 2018 …………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 171

  • The Governance and Legal Unit’s processes and practices, 2015-16 ……………. 172
    • Summary …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 173
    • Overview of the disciplinary process ……………………………………………………. 176
    • How GLU operated ……………………………………………………………………………… 177
    • Guidance and standards ……………………………………………………………………… 202
    • Guidance on antisemitism …………………………………………………………………… 217
    • Conclusions …………………………………………………………………………………………. 237
  • Inaction on antisemitism: November 2016 to February 2018………………………. 238
    • Summary …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 239
    • Staffing ……………………………………………………………………………………………….. 241
    • Case management systems …………………………………………………………………. 246
    • Post-“Validation” work …………………………………………………………………………. 252
    • The new complaints process ……………………………………………………………….. 261
    • Actions ………………………………………………………………………………………………… 282
    • NEC stage ……………………………………………………………………………………………. 294
    • NCC stage ……………………………………………………………………………………………. 297
    • Other categories of complaints ……………………………………………………………. 301
    • Conclusions ………………………………………………………………………………………. 303
  • The relationship between LOTO and GLU pre-2018 ……………………………………. 304
    • Summary …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 305
    • LOTO and GLU pre-Jeremy Corbyn (2010-2015) ……………………………………. 308
    • LOTO and GLU under Jeremy Corbyn, September 2015 – February 2018 .. 314
    • Ken Livingstone …………………………………………………………………………………… 338
    • Jackie Walker ……………………………………………………………………………………….. 361
    • Moshe Machover …………………………………………………………………………………. 371
    • Conclusions …………………………………………………………………………………………. 376
  1. The transitional period between General Secretaries, February 2018 – April 2018 378
    • The move to action on antisemitism: February 2018 …………………………………… 379
      • Summary …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 380
      • Staffing ……………………………………………………………………………………………….. 383
      • Pressure for action ………………………………………………………………………………. 388
      • “Labour Against Antisemitism” (LAAS)…………………………………………………… 399
      • Conclusions …………………………………………………………………………………………. 426
    • “Palestine Live” and the case of Glyn Secker ……………………………………………….. 427
      • Summary …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 428
      • The case of Glyn Secker ……………………………………………………………………….. 430
      • “Palestine Live” – other cases compared ……………………………………………….. 448
      • The PSC Report ……………………………………………………………………………………. 454
      • Conclusions …………………………………………………………………………………………. 455
    • The transition from Iain McNicol to Jennie Formby …………………………………….. 457
      • Summary …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 458
      • Alan Bull ……………………………………………………………………………………………… 461
      • “Palestine Live” – remaining cases ………………………………………………………… 469
      • LOTO consultation ………………………………………………………………………………. 474
      • LOTO consultation and Thomas Gardiner …………………………………………….. 493
      • Thomas Gardiner’s role in GLU-GSO …………………………………………………….. 503
      • Sam Matthews’ reports ………………………………………………………………………… 509
      • Conclusions …………………………………………………………………………………………. 516
    • Assessment: LOTO, GLU and suspensions ………………………………………………….. 519
      • Summary …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 520
      • Suspension policy under Sam Matthews, Head of Disputes ………………….. 521
      • GLU suspension guidelines for staff …………………………………………………….. 528
      • Suspensions in practice ……………………………………………………………………….. 531
      • Spring 2018: change of policy ………………………………………………………………. 549
      • Suspensions: what happened? …………………………………………………………….. 552
      • Claims of Sam Matthews and the JLM submission ………………………………… 557
      • Why did Matthews consult LOTO? ………………………………………………………… 560
      • Conclusions …………………………………………………………………………………………. 563
  1. Efforts outside of the Governance and Legal Unit to tackle antisemitism ………….. 565
    • ………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 566
    • Jeremy Corbyn’s statements and proposals ……………………………………………….. 569
      • Assessment …………………………………………………………………………………………. 584
    • Action when Jennie Formby started as General Secretary …………………………… 585
      • The NEC Antisemitism Working Group …………………………………………………. 591
      • Antisemitism guidelines / Code of Conduct ………………………………………….. 605
    • Conclusions ………………………………………………………………………………………………. 617
  2. The Governance and Legal Unit’s handling of antisemitism disciplinary cases, April

2018 – present…………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 619

6.1. Statistics ……………………………………………………………………………………………………. 620

6.1.1. Summary …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 621

6.1.2. Oversight …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 622

6.1.3. Statistics on action ………………………………………………………………………………. 628

6.1.4. Conclusions …………………………………………………………………………………………. 641

6.2. Reforms to the roles of the NEC and NCC …………………………………………………… 642

6.2.1. Summary …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 643

6.2.2. Reforms in 2016-17 ……………………………………………………………………………… 644

6.2.3. Reforms in 2018-19 ……………………………………………………………………………… 650

6.2.4. Issues with NEC and NCC decisions ……………………………………………………… 657

6.2.5. Impact of 2019 NEC reform …………………………………………………………………. 659

6.2.6. Conclusions …………………………………………………………………………………………. 669

6.3. Building a team …………………………………………………………………………………………. 670

6.3.1. Summary …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 671

6.3.2. Recruitment (Legal) ……………………………………………………………………………… 672

6.3.3. Staff departures (June-July 2018) ………………………………………………………….. 675

6.3.4. Further staff departures (September 2018 – April 2019) ………………………… 678

6.3.5. Recruitment (Governance Officers and filling vacancies) ………………………. 679

6.3.6. The new team ……………………………………………………………………………………… 688

6.3.7. Regional Governance Officers ……………………………………………………………… 690

6.3.8. Conclusion ………………………………………………………………………………………….. 695

6.4. Decision-making on antisemitism cases, March 2018 – March 2019 …………….. 697

6.4.1. Summary …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 698

6.4.2. Decision-making processes, March 2018 – June 2018 ……………………………. 700

6.4.3. Review of decision-making: overview and scope …………………………………… 708

6.4.4. The case of Patricia Sheerin …………………………………………………………………. 711

6.4.5. Quality of decisions on antisemitism, March 2018 – June 2018 ………………. 720

6.4.6. Quality of decisions on antisemitism, July 2018 – March 2019 ……………….. 743

6.4.7. Conclusions …………………………………………………………………………………………. 747

6.5. Decision-making on antisemitism cases, March 2019 – present …………………… 748

6.5.1. Summary …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 749

6.5.2. Guidance …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 750

6.5.3. Expertise …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 759

6.5.4. Systematic social media searches ………………………………………………………… 768

6.5.5. Denialism ……………………………………………………………………………………………. 774

6.5.6. Impact of guidance and searches …………………………………………………………. 779

6.5.7. Comparison with 2016 leadership election …………………………………………… 787

6.5.8. Rectifying past errors …………………………………………………………………………… 789

6.5.9. Conclusions …………………………………………………………………………………………. 790

6.6. Problems encountered and solutions found ………………………………………………. 791

6.6.1. Summary …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 792

6.6.2. Indefinite suspensions …………………………………………………………………………. 794

6.6.3. Staff decisions and informal resolutions ………………………………………………. 796

6.6.4. Delays in decision-making ……………………………………………………………………. 799

6.6.5. Lost cases and delays in implementing decisions …………………………………. 804

6.6.6. Identification methods ………………………………………………………………………… 811

6.6.7. Role of regions and CLPs ……………………………………………………………………… 814

6.6.8. Conclusions …………………………………………………………………………………………. 819

6.7. Prominent cases ……………………………………………………………………………………….. 820

6.7.1. Summary …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 821

6.7.2. Asa Winstanley ……………………………………………………………………………………. 822

6.7.3. Chris Williamson ………………………………………………………………………………….. 825

6.7.4. Conclusions …………………………………………………………………………………………. 831

6.8. Proactive approach on antisemitism ………………………………………………………….. 832

6.8.1. Summary …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 833

6.8.2. Staff-initiated cases and historical audits ……………………………………………… 834

6.8.3. Facebook groups …………………………………………………………………………………. 837

6.8.4. Abuse from complainants ……………………………………………………………………. 843

6.8.5. Conclusions …………………………………………………………………………………………. 847

  1. Conclusion ………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 848

 

1. Introduction and Executive Summary

1.1. Executive Summary

The Labour Party exists to champion equality, and fight discrimination and prejudice. These aims are not secondary to any wider goals of the Party – they are fundamental to its purpose.

The decision of the Equality and Human Rights Commission to investigate the Labour Party to determine whether the Party committed unlawful acts in relation to its members is therefore a matter of extreme seriousness to the Party.

The events which led to this investigation, including the Party becoming host to a small number of members holding views which were unarguably hostile to Jewish people and in some cases frankly neo-Nazi in their nature, are deeply disturbing.

This has caused great pain to the Jewish community in this country, including Jewish members of the Labour Party. The Party must take all possible steps to repair this damage, and apologise for failing to take the necessary action to tackle the problem sooner.

This report is a result of the in-depth and extensive investigatory work which the Party has undertaken to comprehensively respond to the Commission’s investigation, and aims to provide a full and thorough account of the evolution of the Party’s disciplinary processes in relation to dealing with complaints of antisemitism. It sets out the evidence of what has happened, explains the evident shortcomings in the Party’s work, and assesses the improvements the Party has made in the last two years in particular. To aid the reader, every section has a “Summary” at the start, which covers the key topics and findings of each section.

It does not directly address the wider politics of antisemitism or a number of the controversies which have convulsed the Party, since these fall outside the scope of the Commission’s investigation, but such matters are inevitably touched upon at points.

This report thoroughly disproves any suggestion that antisemitism is not a problem in the Party, or that it is all a “smear” or a “witch-hunt”. The report’s findings prove the scale of the problem, and could help end the denialism amongst parts of the Party membership which has further hurt Jewish members and the Jewish community.

This report reveals a litany of mistakes, deficiencies, and missed opportunities to reform, develop and adapt a clearly failing disciplinary system. Since Jennie Formby became General Secretary in 2018, the Party has taken extensive measures to create a functioning disciplinary system capable of dealing with antisemitism complaints at considerable volume and in an appropriate manner, with a high standard of investigations and decision-making. However, this report shows that some problems still continued during this period, and so further extensive work was undertaken in 2019 to improve processes and revisit decisions taken in previous years.

As this report demonstrates, significant and wide-ranging measures have been put in place to ensure that the errors and procedural problems that have taken place in the past, which are documented in this report, could not be repeated again today.

The Party welcomes the opportunity which this investigation has given us to further hold a magnifying glass up to the Party’s performance in relation to managing this issue over this time period and closely inspect our internal flaws and failings in this regard.

The Commission’s investigation spans the time period from 11 March 2016 until the commencement of the investigation on 28 May 2019 (although the Commission has both requested and received evidence from before and after this period). However, the matters under consideration cannot truly be understood without looking at a longer time period. This report reviews material spanning 2014-2020, although in one section, the Party has gone back as far as 2010 in order to better understand the situation.

The situation in 2016 was different to the situation in 2019. These time periods, and all those between, cannot necessarily be analysed and understood through the same lens. In 2016, the problem of antisemitism in the Labour Party could be attributed to a small number of individuals who had long held antisemitic views – some of them new joiners, some long-standing members – as well as individuals who had inadvertenly strayed into antisemitic discourse through apparent ignorance, often linked to passionately-held views on the conflict between Israel and Palestine. In 2019, the problem of antisemitism is more widespread, because a specific discourse has developed around “Labour and antisemitism” which in itself has antisemitic undertones and has aggravated the problem.

In 2015, the membership of the Labour Party was about 200,000 and then suddenly more than doubled, with many of those joining with a desire to elect Jeremy Corbyn following the 2015 General Election defeat. In 2016, it grew again to well over half a million, as many members joined to participate in the 2016 leadership election. At its height Labour Party membership was almost 600,000, or roughly 1% of the British population. This is obviously welcome at a time when widespread political disengagement is assumed to be the norm. However, it meant that the Labour Party became more broadly reflective of the problems and prejudices of British society at large.

Dealing with this was complicated by the complacent assumption that to be in the Labour Party was to be automatically free of prejudice. There are in fact a number of instances in the Party’s history when it has fallen short of that ideal. In relation to antisemitism there is a lack of understanding as to how it can sometimes be expressed on the left of politics, as well as the right. This had a bearing on the failure to recognise early the problems that could be attached to a very large increase in membership, as well as such prejudices among existing members.

Some of those who joined expressed antisemitic views, sometimes framed in terms of support for the Palestinian people, but incorporating traditional tropes about Jewish power/influence. The explosion of social media has given these (and other) unacceptable views far greater exposure than they would have had fifteen or twenty years ago – what would have been private discussions are now shared publicly. The internet has also contributed to the growth and sharing of conspiratorial theories about a shadowy global elite, often tending towards antisemitism. Ten years of economic and social dislocation have also doubtless contributed to a society much less at ease with itself, and prone to the search for scapegoats.

For all these and other reasons, complaints about antisemitism in the Labour Party began to grow from 2016 onwards. At that time, the Party’s disciplinary process was ill-equipped to deal with the impending caseload and, in fact, the disciplinary processes did not adequately deal with even the far fewer number of cases the Party was managing before 2015. The process was drawn out and overly complex, and staff often decided on informal resolutions, including suspending individuals and then lifting their suspensions a few weeks later, without taking the case through to the National Executive Committee (NEC) or the National Constitutional Committee (NCC).[1] At this time, staff regularly consulted with Ed Miliband’s office on responses to cases involving elected representatives at all levels of the Party, as well as high-profile cases that could have a reputational impact on the Labour Party.[2]

When investigations did take place, these were outdated, clunky, time-consuming and required vast staff resources to undertake. These processes were not fit-for-purpose.

Therefore, in 2015 the Governance and Legal Unit (GLU) lacked systems, processes or guidance for managing complaints and disciplinary processes. The need for major reforms to address this was identified by senior staff in GLU and the General Secretary’s Office (GSO) by late 2015.[3] Nevertheless by 2018 very little had changed. Subsequently, two rounds of rule changes at Labour’s Annual Conferences, and continual reforms and changes to internal processes, have been required to introduce the reforms needed.[4]

In the period until spring 2018, the Labour Party’s investigation shows that Labour HQ and GLU failed to:

  • develop any consistent system of logging and recording complaints;
  • develop any consistent system of logging and recording disciplinary investigations, or tracking their progress;
  • develop any consistent system, process or training for investigating and progressing cases;
  • develop any general guidance or training for staff on decision-making regarding complaints;
  • develop any specific guidance or training for staff on decision-making regarding antisemitism complaints;
  • develop any detailed or coherent guidelines for investigating complaints based on social media conduct, including how to identify Labour members from social media accounts and how to treat different forms of social media activity;
  • recommend or enact any reforms to the ineffective NEC and NCC disciplinary procedures, to bring in new systems suitable for a mass member party of 500,000 people or more, and capable of dealing with a much enlarged caseload;
  • implement the Macpherson principle of logging and investigating complaints of racism as racism.[5]

This investigation has revealed to the Party that in this period, before Jennie Formby became General Secretary in spring 2018, GLU failed to act on the vast majority of complaints received, including the vast majority of complaints regarding antisemitic conduct. Systematically reviewing all letters sent to members by GLU from 1 November 2016 to 19 February 2018, the Party has found that GLU initiated investigations into just 34 members in relation to antisemitism in this period. More than 300 complaints relating to antisemitism appear to have been received, however. 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 Head of Disputes 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.[6]

The complaints system simply did not function, and the inbox to which complaints were forwarded by other GLU staff would apparently go months at a time without any staff member monitoring it.[7] For the failures during this period, the Party must apologise most profusely to Jewish members and the Jewish community.

 

However, when questioned by the office of the Leader of the Opposition (LOTO) about such matters, as the Party’s handling of antisemitism complaints came under unprecedented media and political scrutiny, senior GLU and GSO staff, including the General Secretary Iain McNicol, repeatedly:

 

  • Insisted that all complaints were dealt with promptly.
  • Justified delays and claimed that outstanding issues would be dealt with soon.
  • Provided timetables for the resolution of cases that were never met.
  • Falsely claimed to have processed all antisemitism complaints.
  • Falsely claimed that most antisemitism complaints the party received were not about Labour members.
  • Provided highly inaccurate statistics of antisemitism complaints.[8]

 

This situation, best characterised as bureaucratic drift and inertia, compounded by attempts to cover up poor performance (in part by, for a brief period, soliciting the involvement of LOTO staff in decisions properly the responsibility of Party HQ alone), led to several negative consequences. The provision of false and misleading information to both LOTO and the General Secretary (both Lord McNicol and subsequently Jennie Formby) by GLU when under the management of Sam Matthews, John Stolliday and Emilie Oldknow meant that the scale of the problem was not appreciated.[9] By the time a new General Secretary took over Party HQ in April 2018 there was a backlog of cases that had been ongoing, often for years, with little to no progress, and with information on their status and content scattered across different systems and central and regional offices. Some of these were high-profile cases, awaiting decision at NEC or NCC level. There was, further, a hidden backlog of people reported to GLU for antisemitism, but never dealt with or mishandled, many of whom would be re-reported subsequently, or were picked up in spring 2018 as Iain McNicol was leaving.[10]

 

It should be clarified that there is no suggestion that these shortcomings can be attributed to any antisemitic views on the part of party officials, nor to an unwillingness to oppose their expression. The Party has found no evidence of this. On the contrary, current and former staff members have expressed their disgust at examples of antisemitic attitudes within the party. While this report focuses on complaints concerning antisemitism, complaints concerning other alleged misconduct and prejudices were handled in the same way by GLU in this period.[11]

 

The problems were not just procedural, however. There is also abundant evidence of a hyper-factional atmosphere prevailing in Party HQ in this period, which appears to have  affected the expeditious and resolute handling of disciplinary complaints. While it may not be immediately clear why this is relevant to a report on the party’s disciplinary procedures, the way that GLU operated in the past, and the relationship between LOTO and GLU, cannot be understood without understanding the domineering role of factionalism within the Party.

 

Many staff, including GLU staff and senior staff with responsibility for managing and overseeing GLU, were bitterly opposed to the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, and seem to have been demotivated, or largely interested in work that could advance a factional agenda. At its extreme, some employees seem to have taken a view that the worse things got for Labour the happier they would be, since this might expedite Jeremy Corbyn’s departure from office. Further, there is little evidence of strong management of procedures, workloads, and priorities in HQ, which also impacted GLU’s work.

 

The evidence of Labour HQ and GLU’s opposition to LOTO also disproves allegations that Corbyn’s office had influence over GLU’s work even while Iain McNicol was General Secretary, and was responsible for GLU’s failures to act in this period. The Party is aware that such claims have been made to the Commission, and hence an assessment was required of the attitude of staff in HQ towards LOTO, and the relationship between LOTO and Labour HQ. The evidence found demonstrates that staff in HQ, including in GLU and GSO, did not take instruction from LOTO. On the contrary, they often 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.

 

Considering this evidence, it becomes clear that the suggestion that GLU staff were being forced by LOTO to follow secret “unwritten guidance” on antisemitism – for which the Party has been unable to find any documentary evidence – did not happen and indeed could not have happened.[12]

 

These issues were compounded by at times poor judgements from staff on what constitutes antisemitism and on what warrants suspension from the Party, and by staff sometimes seeking “informal resolutions” to even serious evidence of antisemitism, like asking individuals to delete and apologise. The Chakrabarti Report, released on 30 June 2016, and Jeremy Corbyn’s speech on the same day, provided guidance on a wide range of conduct that was antisemitic and had no place in the Labour Party. GLU largely failed to use this guidance, however, as well as to develop any more in-depth guidance to assist staff decision-making on complaints of antisemitism.[13]

 

Such problems – both managerial and procedural – have since been addressed, ensuring that the mistakes of the past could not be repeated now.  These new measures include:

 

  • clear guidelines on processing complaints and a consistent and comprehensive system for logging them;
  • a prohibition on staff imposing “informal resolutions”;
  • staff conducting thorough investigations into individuals complained about, rather than simply relying only on the evidence supplied in the complaint;
  • staff initiating cases themselves by proactively investigating social media comments by Party members;
  • the creation of small NEC panels to deal with cases of alleged antisemitism, meeting monthly or more rather than quarterly;
  • the oversight of antisemitism panels by independent barristers;
  • doubling of the size of the NCC to enable more cases to be heard faster, and instructions to hear cases on paper rather than in-person;
  • restoring power to the NEC to expel members, rather than having to wait for NCC hearings to impose expulsions in egregious cases;
  • the provision of expert antisemitism education for members of the NEC, NCC and Labour staff;
  • the creation of a detailed decision-making matrix and extensive guidance to direct staff decision-making on antisemitism cases;
  • ending the role of untrained Regional staff or CLPs in investigating or adjudicating on antisemitism complaints;
  • the adoption of all 11 of the IHRA definition’s associated examples;
  • further proactive initiatives from staff, including conducting audits into cases which were not handled appropriately by former staff, to ensure action is taken, and documenting and reporting antisemitism in Labour-supporting Facebook groups to Facebook and urging that Facebook shut such groups down and take action against individuals.[14]

 

GLU has been professionalised – it now handles disciplinary cases regardless of the political views of either complainants or the members complained about.

 

Restoring to the NEC the power to expel members, removed from it in the 1980s, has had a significant and extremely positive impact, enabling the Party to expel individuals for gross antisemitism and racism much more speedily, including individuals whose cases had been pending for a long time. There has been a radical increase in the processing of cases, with 63 people expelled for antisemitism since January 2019, compared to 11 in the three years from 2015 through to the end of 2018. New cases can now be handled swiftly – for example in the last quarter of 2019 and the first quarter of 2020, a number of individuals have been expelled within days or weeks of the complaint being submitted to the Party.[15]

 

There is of course scope for further improvements in processes and rules, and the Party is committed to considering any such proposals, particularly from the Jewish community, and from the EHRC in this regard. GLU has recently conducted a further review of all its processes and practices, and is implementing further reforms to improve efficiency, reduce bottlenecks and bring more cases to swift and robust resolution, and the Party is open to all ideas on how to improve processes.[16]

 

We hope that an approach of transparency and willingness to self-reflect and selfcriticise, as demonstrated by this report, can be part of this process to help the Party root out antisemitism and ensure that never again will Labour find itself estranged from a minority community in our country.

 

 

1.2. Scope and Sources

 

1.2. Scope and Sources 19
1.2.1. The EHRC investigation20
1.2.2. This report21

 

 

1.2.1. The EHRC investigation

 

The Labour Party has sent the EHRC thousands of pieces of evidence and documentation, and hundreds of pages of information on particular cases and events which the Commission enquired about.

 

The EHRC requested information and documentation pertaining to 58 individual disciplinary cases, which the Party provided in full. In addition, the EHRC sent “requests for further information” or “RFIs” with hundreds of questions on individual cases and specific issues.

 

The Party has written 151,771 words to the EHRC responding to these questions in the last three months, and has provided all relevant documentation.

 

The Party also volunteered information and documentation on further cases to provide the Commission with a fuller picture of how the disciplinary processes have operated in relation to a wide range of cases.

 

This work has taken up a considerable amount of staff time, including staff within the Governance and Legal Unit (GLU), as this is the Unit with the relevant knowledge and access to information and is best placed to provide full answers to the Commission’s questions. Carrying out this work in response to the Commission has used up the resources of two members of staff on an entirely full-time basis for three months.

 

It has used up the majority of the time of a further six members of staff, and roughly half of the time of a further five members of staff for the last three months. In total, this investigation has used up roughly 1,183 working days of staff in GLU since December 12 2019. On top of the number of working days, much of the work for the Commission has required extremely late nights and working over the weekends.

 

The Party has been working with the EHRC and seeking to fully comply with its requests and as quickly as possible.

 

1.2.2. This report

 

The majority of the cases the Commission has asked about were handled by staff prior to 2019.  When this investigation commenced in May 2019, the staff who worked on most of the cases in question no longer worked for the Labour Party. However, detailed explanations of their decision-making and rationale on these cases at every step of their progression has been requested, along with every relevant Labour Party email that related to these cases.

 

Staff therefore had to use Labour’s “Subject Access Request” tool – which does a backend search of all Labour Party emails – to find and save relevant emails, and produce chronologies to provide to the Commission in response to their questions on particular cases. This also helped the Labour Party understand what had gone wrong in the past and learn from these cases ourselves so as to further improve our own practices.

 

As former staff left almost no records when they stopped working for the party, resulting in a lack of institutional memory from this period, a wider investigation was required. For example, when examining the case of Alan Bull, current staff were confused about the former GLU staff’s decision-making on this case and why they had issued NOIs instead of a suspension; could not tell what, if any, internal guidance had been used by former staff; and were confused as to why regional staff were so involved and what their role was in the process.

 

To answer the questions the Commission had asked, the Party had to conduct an internal investigation which examined how, in general, GLU had handled disciplinary matters, and in particular complaints of antisemitism.

 

Our investigation was conducted on the basis of primary sources, above all written documentary evidence.

 

The Party email system includes all emails sent or received by Party staff throughout this period. In total, this includes several million emails. During this investigation, we estimate that up to 100,000 emails were reviewed by staff.

 

The evidence accompanying this report includes more than 3,000 email chains containing an estimated 10,000 emails. The Party was also able to search thousands of messages exchanged on Labour work accounts, on an internal party messaging service, through the same tool.

 

Staff also examined the contents of two staff WhatsApp group chats established by senior management in Labour HQ for work purposes – “SMT Group” and “LP Forward Planning Group”, both established on 28 September 2016. The members of “SMT

Group” were Iain McNicol (General Secretary), Tracey Allen (Manager, GSO), Julie

Lawrence (Director, GSO), Emilie Oldknow (Executive Director – Governance,

Membership and Party Services), Patrick Heneghan (Executive Director – Elections, Campaigns and Organisation) and Simon Mills (Executive Director – Finance). These six individuals were also in the “LP Forward Planning Group”, which also included John

Stolliday (Director, Governance and Legal), Mike Creighton (Director of Audit, Risk and

Property), Claire-Frances Fuller (Head of Internal Governance), Simon Jackson

(Director of Policy, Research and Messaging, Briefing and Rebuttal), Fiona Stanton

(Regional Director, Labour North), Neil Fleming (Acting Head of Press and

Broadcasting), Carol Linforth (Director of Conference and Events), Sarah Mulholland

(PLP Secretary), Holly Snyman (Director – Human Resources), Greg Cook (Head of Political Strategy), Anna Hutchinson (Regional Director, Labour North West) and Tom Geldard (Director of Digital).

 

The contents of these WhatsApp chats were made available to the Labour Party by one of the groups’ members. They run to over 400,000 words.

 

Finally, the Party examined a WhatsApp group chat between Iain McNicol, Emilie

Oldknow, Karie Murphy (Chief of Staff, LOTO) and Seumas Milne (Executive Director – Strategy and Communication). This was established by McNicol and Oldknow as a work tool to aid communication on 26 January 2017, and the final message was sent on 7 April 2018. It ran to 65,000 words in total. Seumas Milne exported the entire chat so that staff could investigate its contents.

 

To aid the investigation, some former and current staff were asked for their recollection of certain events, but these are used in the report in only a few instances. This is because, as the investigation reveals throughout, such recollections are inherently unreliable. Even without unconscious bias, memories on an issue that has been extensively covered in the media, often years after the fact, are prone to change over time.

 

We hope the EHRC will focus on the documentary, primary-source evidence that the Party has made available to it – emails, messages and documents from the time – rather than the personal accounts of staff or former staff.

 

We hope the EHRC will question the validity of the personal testimonies where these present a narrative which is directly contradicted by available documentary evidence from the time of the events in question. The Party does not cast any aspersions upon the honesty or integrity of any former or current staff members, but urges the Commission to rely on the extensive documentary evidence provided to it, which points to the factually-accurate history of the Governance and Legal Unit.

 

At the start of each section a summary of the contents and findings of that section is provided to enable this report to be more easily navigated and digested.

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.3. Structure

 

This report has a largely chronological structure, along with some sections that delve into particular topics or themes across time periods. For example, particular highprofile cases sometimes span long time periods, and are therefore discussed within the most relevant section.

 

The Executive Summary in 1.1 has provided an introduction to and overarching remarks on the report.

 

Perhaps counter-intuitively, the report then begins, in Chapter 2, by examining the role of factionalism in GLU’s work. Of all the topics considered in this report, this is the one that may seem the least obviously relevant to an examination of Labour’s disciplinary procedures and their handling of complaints of antisemitism. However, as is outlined in the Summary and Introduction to Chapter 2, it became apparent over the course of this investigation that the factional role played by GLU and other senior Labour HQ staff was not incidental to understanding GLU’s work in this period – it was fundamental. This is particularly relevant as critical claims have been made about the relationship between LOTO and GLU in this period. For example, the allegation that GLU was following “unwritten guidance” from LOTO not to act on complaints of antisemitism, or that email exchanges in March-April 2018 prove “LOTO interference” in GLU’s processes on antisemitism. This report investigates those allegations, which requires a fuller picture of the actual relationship between LOTO and Labour HQ.

 

Chapter 2 therefore examines the factional role of GLU and Labour HQ in this period, with a particular focus on staff who played key roles in GLU, and on areas most relevant to GLU’s work – the “Validation” process during the 2016 leadership election, when thousands of supporters of Jeremy Corbyn were suspended or excluded from the Party, and two case studies that show such factional use of disciplinary processes continuing well into spring 2018. It shows that GLU and Labour HQ were both independent from, and openly hostile towards, LOTO, which was therefore unable to exercise any effective oversight in relation to their work.

 

In Chapter 3, the report explores how GLU functioned from 2015 to early 2018, the processes and procedures that existed, and the approach taken in relation to antisemitism complaints at the time. It shows how disciplinary procedures, in so much as they existed, were dysfunctional, slow and flexible to the factional requirements of staff. Despite detailed guidance from Shami Chakarbarti and Jeremy Corbyn on different forms of left-wing antisemitism, GLU failed to develop any guidance or training for staff, and made highly inconsistent, and often poor, decisions on antisemitism complaints throughout this period. GLU also failed to act on the vast majority of antisemitism complaints submitted in this period, with the energy that applied to the “Validation” process of 2016 not being transferred to the process of creating a functioning disciplinary process for all types of complaints.

 

Chapter 3 also examines the role of LOTO in disciplinary processes up to 2018, finding that consultation with LOTO on a range of cases was normal conduct under Ed Miliband, but largely stopped when Jeremy Corbyn became leader, apart from some cases involving high profile individuals. Examining ongoing communications on such matters, and prominent cases such as Ken Livingstone and Jackie Walker, shows how LOTO staff increasingly chased action on antisemitism from GLU and Labour HQ, but were often met with a hostile or obstructive response.

 

Chapter 4 assesses the transition period between General Secretaries Iain McNicol and Jennie Formby in spring 2018. Increased scrutiny in this period on the work GLU was undertaking on antisemitism led to a huge increase in action, including almost twice as many suspensions in a week than had occurred in the previous year. It was in this period that GLU finally began to act on antisemitism complaints, including complaints submitted in the previous year but ignored at the time. The short period of consultation between GLU-GSO and LOTO on antisemitism cases, initiated by GLU’s Head of Disputes, is also examined, as well as the misleading reports and inaccurate statistics on action that GLU-GSO provided to LOTO at the time. Finally, Chapter 4 looks at GLU’s policy towards suspensions until March 2018, and considers claims that LOTO had prevented GLU from suspending people over allegations of antisemitism.

 

In Chapter 5, the report looks more broadly at action taken, or discussed, by senior staff and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in relation to antisemitism throughout the period under investigation. Although this is by no means comprehensive, and does not attempt to offer any assessment of the efficacy or appropriateness of the Party’s responses throughout this period, it shows that the Party leadership consistently expressed opposition to antisemitism, spoke out about the ways antisemitism manifests on the left, and proposed and sought a range of actions to address the issue of antisemitism in the Party.

 

Chapter 6 then returns to disciplinary processes, and examines how these have changed under General Secretary Jennie Formby, from April 2018 onwards. It looks at decision-making processes on antisemitism cases, reforms to the roles of the NEC and NCC that have taken place, and changes to staffing in the GLU team. It shows that major improvements were made from April 2018 onwards, resulting in a huge increase in the number of antisemitism cases being acted on and progressed at every stage of the process, but that this was still a gradual process in many areas. Mistakes made in 2018, like mistakes made in 2015-17, have had to be corrected and addressed by new policies in 2019. In particular, the shift to undertaking systematic further social media searches on all cases of antisemitism has had a transformative effect on GLU’s handling of antisemitism complaints. The chapter explores the range of problems and challenges GLU has encountered throughout this period, the steps the Party has taken to address them, and the move towards a more proactive approach to the issue of antisemitism in the Labour Party.

 

Finally, Chapter 7 offers some conclusions to the report as a whole.

 

Each section in each chapter contains an introductory summary of the contents of the section, to enable the report to be more easily navigated and digested. When quoting from source materials, underlining has been used to add emphasis and point the reader to the most relevant sections. Due to the large volume of materials cited, all source references refer to the evidence folder in which the documentation is contained, followed by its filename; to a specific case folder; or to the case “Final Summaries” provided to the Commission.

 

2. The work and role of the Governance and Legal Unit in internal Labour Party politics

 

2.1. The use of the Governance and Legal Unit for factionalism

 

2.1. The use of the Governance and Legal Unit for factionalism                                                 29

2.1.1. Summary                                                                                                                       29

2.1.2. Introduction                                                                                                                  33

2.1.3. Context                                                                                                                          34

2.1.3.i. Labour factions and “Trots”                                                                                34

2.1.3.ii. The 2015 leadership election                                                                            35

2.1.4. The role of Labour staff                                                                                               37

2.1.4.ii. Staff views on Labour MPs and the 2015 Leadership Election                      38

2.1.4.ii. Staff views on Labour policies                                                                           44

2.1.4.iii. Labour staff views of Labour members and activists                                    47

2.1.4.iv. Abusive and inappropriate language                                                               51

2.1.5. Labour staff approach to work under Jeremy Corbyn                                            57

2.1.6. Regional staff                                                                                                                67

2.1.6. The 2015 leadership election – “Validation”                                                             70

2.1.7. Staff appointments and culture                                                                                 74

2.1.8. The LOTO – Labour HQ relationship                                                                          80

2.1.9. The 2017 general election                                                                                          85

2.1.10. Factionalism and the Governance and Legal Unit                                               106

2.1.11. Conclusions                                                                                                              117

 

2.1.1. Summary

 

The work of GLU and the relationship between LOTO and GSO/GLU in 2015-2018, cannot be understood without understanding the role of Labour Party factionalism. As the Party’s investigation progressed, this became increasingly apparent, and unavoidable. Claims have been made about these relationships that are critical to understanding how the Party addressed complaints of antisemitism in 2015-18 – most notably, the assertion that GLU was forced by LOTO to follow “unwritten guidance” which prevented action on antisemitism – and which required investigation.

 

This report is not concerned with the rights and wrongs of different political positions espoused by different factions and individuals in the Labour Party in the preceding five years. However, an understanding of the role of Labour staff in this period is critical to any examination of how the disciplinary process functioned, and to assessing allegations about the role of LOTO in those processes.

 

Labour Party staff, who are employed by the Party rather than as political advisers to politicians, are expected to act impartially and serve the Party, regardless of the current Leader, much as the civil service is expected to serve the Government under whichever political party is in power. However, this section shows that much of the Labour Party machinery from 2015-18 was openly opposed to Jeremy Corbyn, and worked to directly undermine the elected leadership of the party. The priority of staff in this period appears to have been furthering the aims of a narrow faction aligned to Labour’s right rather than fulfilling the organisation’s objectives, from winning elections to building a functioning complaints and disciplinary process.

 

Labour Party staff based at Labour HQ were not obeying secret directives from LOTO. On the contrary, all of the available evidence points to the opposite conclusion – that Labour Party staff based at Labour HQ, including GLU, worked to achieve opposing political ends to the leadership of the Party. This included work to remove supporters of the incumbent leader during the 2016 leadership election, and work to hinder the leader’s campaign in the 2017 General Election. The attitude in HQ towards LOTO could be summed up in one comment from a senior staff member, who said “death by fire is too kind for LOTO”.

 

Labour officials, including senior staff, expressed hostility towards Jeremy Corbyn and his staff, towards Labour MPs including Andy Burnham, Ed Miliband, Sadiq Khan,

Emily Thornberry, Diane Abbott and Dawn Butler. Staff described “most of the PLP” as

“Trots” or called them “totally useless” in 2015 for not having yet launched a coup against Corbyn. As one staff member commented, “everyone here considers anyone left of [Gordon] Brown to be a trot.”

 

Staff repeatedly used abusive and inappropriate language about the leader, MPs, Labour members and about other staff. For example, staff discussed “hanging and burning” Jeremy Corbyn, calling Corbyn a “lying little toerag”; said that any Labour MP “who nominates Corbyn ‘to widen the debate’ deserves to be taken out and shot”; and stated that a staff member who “whooped” during Corbyn’s speech “should be shot”. Senior staff also said they hoped that one Labour member on the left of the party “dies in a fire”. Senior Labour staff used language that was considerably more abusive and inappropriate than that cited as justification for suspending many Labour members who supported Jeremy Corbyn in 2016.

 

In August 2015 senior staff explored delaying or cancelling the ongoing leadership election when it looked like Jeremy Corbyn was going to win. When Corbyn was elected staff discussed plans for a coup; one staffer said “we need a POLL – that says we’re like 20 points behind”; another suggested a silver lining for Remain losing the 2016 European referendum would be that Corbyn could be held responsible; and another hoped that poor performance in the May 2016 local elections would be the catalyst for a coup.

 

Staff described “working to rule” when Corbyn was elected and “coming into the office

& doing nothing for a few months.” During the 2017 general election, staff joked about “hardly working”, and created a chat so they could pretend to work while actually speaking to each other –  “tap tap tapping away will make us look v busy”. Senior staff coordinated refusing to share basic information to LOTO during the election, such as candidates’ contact details. Labour HQ operated “a secret key seats team” based in Labour’s London region office in Ergon House, from where a parallel general election campaign was run to support MPs associated with the right-wing of the party. The description of the workload and budget involved in this “secret” operation contrasts with the go slow approach described by other staff regarding work on the official general election campaign which the leadership was running to return a Labour government.

 

One senior staff member implied that he would support the Conservatives over Labour under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, saying “who votes for JC? If it’s a choice btwn him & TMay how do WE vote for him?”. Staff sent messages expressing their wish that Labour would perform badly in the 2017 general election, saying “with a bit of luck this speech will show a clear polling decline” and “I CANNOT WAIT to see Andrew Neil rip [Jeremy Corbyn] to pieces over it tonight”. Senior staff commented that the huge rallies for Corbyn late in the election made them “feel ill”, and they reacted to the polls narrowing with dismay, rather than optimism.

 

On election night on 8 June 2017, when the exit poll predicted a hung parliament,

General Secretary Iain McNicol, Executive Director for Governance, Membership and Party Services Emilie Oldknow (who was responsible for overseeing GLU) and other senior staff discussed hiding their reactions, saying “everyone needs to smile” and “we have to be upbeat. And not show it”. Oldknow also described Yvette Cooper and other Labour MPs’ support for Corbyn after the election as “grovelling and embarrassing”.

 

In January 2017, Iain McNicol, Emilie Oldknow and other senior staff discussed preparing for a leadership election if Labour lost the Copeland and Stoke-on-trent byelections, and setting up a “discrete [working group]” to determine the rules and timetable. Iain McNicol discussed this with Tom Watson and told him “to prepare for being interim leader”. During the 2017 general election the Director of GLU John Stolliday then drew up these plans, including a rule change to replace the one member one vote system with an Electoral College system to help ensure that a MP from the party’s left could not win.

 

GLU staff talked openly with each other about using the party’s resources to further the aims of their faction. The Director of the Unit John Stolliday described his work in GLU as “political fixing”, and described overhauling selections of parliamentary candidates and overturning CLP AGM results to help the right of the Party. Emilie Oldknow and GLU staff discussed keeping Angela Eagle MP’s CLP suspended, at Eagle’s request, in order to give her team more time to organise against left-wing members before the AGM. Staff also discussed organising NEC Youth Representative elections on a different election cycle to other NEC elections, to ensure a left-wing candidate would not win, and noted that this was signed off by GLU’s Director.

 

Staff applied the same factional approach to disciplinary processes. One staff member referred to Emilie Oldknow expecting staff to “fabricate a case” against people “she doesn’t like/her friends don’t like” because of their political views. During the 2015 leadership election GLU and other Labour staff described their work as “hunting out 1000s of trots” and a “Trot hunt”, which included excluding people for having “liked” the Greens on Facebook. One prominent GLU staffer, Head of Disputes Katherine Buckingham, admitted that “real work is piling up” while she and other staff were engaged in inappropriate factional work.

 

Factional loyalty also determined key recruitment decisions, including in GLU, where people were appointed to senior roles with few apparent relevant qualifications. This had a severe impact on the Party’s ability to build a functioning disciplinary process over the following years.

 

This section demonstrates that the party machine was controlled by one faction which worked against Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and to advance the interests of their faction, and that LOTO did not have authority or influence over GLU or the party machinery more broadly. Factional work appears to have come at the expense of work the staff were being paid to do, including – as will become apparent in Sections 3-6 – building and maintaining a functioning complaints process.  

 

2.1.2. Introduction

 

The work of GLU and the relationship between LOTO and GSO/GLU in 2015-2018, cannot be understood without understanding the role of Labour Party factionalism.

 

The Commission’s investigation has been informed by critical claims regarding these relationships, which require an understanding of the role of factionalism.

 

For example:

 

  • That GLU were professionals doing their job processing cases of antisemitism and abuse, but faced interference or criticism from LOTO or left-wing members of the NEC.
  • That there was some type of “unwritten guidance” from LOTO which stopped GLU from suspending, or investigating, members accused of antisemitism.
  • That GLU did not act on complaints of antisemitism in 2015-18 because they feared a negative reaction from LOTO or left-wing members of the NEC.
  • That after Jennie Formby became General Secretary, pre-existing neutral professionals in GLU were forced to quit.

 

Some former GLU staff appear to have made such claims to the Commission.

Assessing the credibility of these accounts should therefore be essential to the

Commission’s investigation. Alternatively, some former LOTO staff have alleged that

GLU deliberately failed to act on antisemitism cases in order to damage the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn.[17]

 

For these reasons, it was necessary to examine the role of factionalism in Labour HQ, including in GLU and GSO, in this period.

 

In particular, we looked at Labour work accounts on an internal party messaging service. Not all staff used this internal messaging service: for example, between October 2015 and April 2018, Iain McNicol had no conversations on this messaging app, Emilie Oldknow just one, Mike Creighton six, and John Stolliday a few dozen, and only a handful of times after 2016. These staff did, however, exchange a number of messages in the two WhatsApp chats used by Labour HQ Senior Management, which were also used for this investigation.

 

In this examination, particular attention has been paid to staff who played key roles in GLU in 2015-2018, as well as to the overall culture of staff in party headquarters.

 

2.1.3. Context

2.1.3.i. Labour factions and “Trots”

 

The Labour Party has always been a “broad church” or coalition, with a range of political positions expressed by its members and elected representatives.

 

From the mid-90s to Tony Blair’s resignation in 2007, “Blairism” was dominant in the structures of the party and the parliamentary party, although there was also a “Brownite” faction which was perceived as slightly less centrist. After his victory in 2010, Ed Miliband moved the party more to the “soft left” in some respects, though “Brownite” figures remained in key posts, such as Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls.

 

Meanwhile, there remained a “left” faction in the party, which had considerably more support among members than it did representation in the PLP. This translated into, for example, the “left slate” winning 55% of members’ votes and four of the six members’ seats on the Labour National Executive Committee (NEC) in its 2014 elections.18 But the “Socialist Campaign Group” of Labour MPs was small in size, with just 15 affiliated MPs in 2015 (6.5% of Labour MPs). The “left” faction largely followed the democratic socialist ideas and proposals of Tony Benn, and were considered “Bennites”.

 

All these factions had groupings associated with them, to promote their ideas, and to promote their members within party structures. “Labour First”, led by Luke Akehurst, was associated with the pre-Blair, “old right”; “Progress” was associated with the modernising “Blairite” faction; and the “Campaign for Labour Party Democracy”, John

McDonnell’s “Labour Representation Committee” (LRC) and Jon Lansman’s blog “Left Futures” with the left. In October 2015, following the 2015 Corbyn leadership campaign, Jon Lansman and activists James Schneider, Adam Klug and Emma Rees founded the new movement “Momentum”, as the main left faction of the party that supported the leadership. In 2016, meanwhile, the “soft left” group “Open Labour” was also founded.

 

Many of these Labour factions have a history of conflict with “Trotskyists”, often referred to – generally contemptuously – as “Trots”. In the 1980s, there was significant conflict in the party over the presence of the Trotsykist group “Militant”, though it comprised only a small minority of Labour members. “Militant” was ultimately banned and its key members mostly expelled. Members of Trotskyist political parties or organisations that are rivals to the Labour Party, such as the Socialist Workers Party

                                              

18 https://labourlist.org/2014/08/labournecelectionstheresults/

https://www.leftfutures.org/2014/08/labourexecutiveelectionsleftwinbestresultsince1980swith

55ofmembersvotes/

(SWP), cannot be members of the Labour Party, and any member can be “autoexcluded” for supporting such rival political parties.

 

In the period 2015-2019, however, most of these “Trotskyist” organisations never had more than a few hundred members. In 2016 some of these people, excluded from the Labour Party, did try to organise within local groups of “Momentum”. But in January 2017 Momentum implemented a constitution which excluded anyone who was not a member of the Labour Party, largely eliminating their influence on Momentum as a national organisation, and in many local groups.

 

“Trotskyist” or “Trot” can also refer to people who support the Marxist ideas of Leon Trotsky, but are not necessarily affiliated with a rival organisation. This is not against Labour Party rules, and Labour’s “broad church” has always included Marxists. However, such self-professed “Trotskyists” are small in number, and have been throughout 2015-2019.

 

2.1.3.ii. The 2015 leadership election

 

In 2015, the Socialist Campaign Group decided to put Jeremy Corbyn MP forward as their candidate for leader. However, all candidates needed nominations from 20% of members of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) or European Parliament (EPLP) to get on the ballot, far in excess of the Campaign Group’s numbers. An intensive campaign of lobbying from Labour members and Corbyn’s campaign team was required to get the nominations, with some MPs, such as Sadiq Khan, agreeing to lend a nomination to “widen the debate”, despite not supporting Jeremy Corbyn. At the last minute, Corbyn secured the required nominations and made it onto the ballot.

 

In the leadership election that followed, Corbyn would go on to win decisively, with 59.5% of the vote – winning outright on the first round, without counting how many of those who voted for another candidate first had put him as their “second preference”. 19.0% of the electorate voted for Andy Burnham, who had some trade union backing; 17.0% for Yvette Cooper, who had served under Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband; and just 4.5% for Liz Kendall, considered to be from the “Blairite” wing and endorsed by “Progress”.[18]

 

After the May 2015 general election, Labour’s membership had begun to rise, particularly during the “Corbyn surge” of the summer. For the first time, thanks to party rule changes passed by Ed Miliband, “registered supporters” could also sign up and vote in the leadership election, and more than 100,000 did so. 83.8% of registered supporters put Jeremy Corbyn as their “first preference” – but Corbyn won the support of 49.6% of party members, too (just 5.5% of whom backed Liz Kendall).

 

The result was seen as a triumph for Jeremy Corbyn, and a rout for the “Blairite” politics of “Progress”, whose candidate acquired just 4.5% of the overall vote. In total, more than 250,000 people voted for Jeremy Corbyn as their “first preference”, including existing Labour members, returning Labour members who had quit over the 2003 invasion of Iraq or Tony Blair’s support for policies like Private Finance Initiatives (PFI), and people entirely new to politics, many of them young.

 

As we shall see, senior figures in Labour HQ did not view these developments positively.

 

 

             

2.1.4. The role of Labour staff

 

The Labour Party is a democratic socialist party. Its leadership and policies are decided, at different levels and through different mechanisms, by its members, supporters, affiliated unions and socialist societies, and elected representatives. Labour staff are not supposed to have any political role in the party. Like the civil service, they are there to deliver on decisions of the party’s democratically elected leadership, the Leader of the PLP and the NEC.

 

Labour Party employees are usually engaged in politics and therefore obviously have political views. However, party staff are supposed to operate neutrally with fairness towards all members and affiliates, regardless of their faction or views.

 

The reality was the opposite. The party’s resources – paid for by party members – were often utilised to further the interests of one faction and in some cases were used to undermine the party’s objectives. As we shall see, many of the staff members engaging in factional behaviour worked in GLU or went on to work in GLU; held senior Director and Executive Director positions responsible for overseeing GLU’s work and managing GLU staff; or held positions in the General Secretary’s Office. In some cases the General Secretary himself was directly involved in such activities.

 

This report is not concerned with the rights and wrongs of factional activities. This evidence is included in the report because the factional attitudes and approach of Party staff during this period is critical to understanding how the disciplinary processes operated, and is crucial to assessing allegations, which have been made to the EHRC, about LOTO’s role in disciplinary processes during this period.

 

 

2.1.4.ii. Staff views on Labour MPs and the 2015 Leadership Election

“Anyone who nominates corbyn ‘to widen the debate’ deserves to be taken out and shot” –

Jo Green, Labour Head of Broadcasting, 15 June 2015

 

Senior Labour staff were clear in their opposition to Jeremy Corbyn, and also Andy Burnham, in the 2015 Labour leadership election, as well as to many other Labour MPs not associated with the “Blairite” wing of the party.

 

On 15 June 2015, for example, Head of Press and Broadcasting Jo Green called Corbyn

“that fucking trot” and suggested to Acting Director of Policy and Political Research Simon Jackson that “anyone who nominates corbyn ‘to widen the debate’ deserves to be taken out and shot”. Jackson agreed: “quite. if the left can’t get on the ballot it shows they’re moribund… putting them on there only validates the views”.[19]

 

On 15 June 2015, John Stolliday, then a Senior Media Monitoring Officer, who moved to GLU in late 2015 and became its Director in 2016, discussed the leadership election with Jo Green. Both made clear their opposition to both Corbyn and Burnham:

 

John Stolliday 11:58: 

I bet Ed would vote for Corbyn Jo Green 11:58: 

ed wants andy to win i am told…

John Stolliday 11:58: 

fucking hell[20]

 

On 2 July 2015 Stolliday also referred to the Andy Burnham campaign as “team #failure”.[21]

 

On 20 July 2015, Head of Political Strategy Greg Cook described a Labour MP as being “such a Trot now”, to which Head of Press and Broadcasting Jo Green responded “yep. like most of the PLP it seems”.[22] Green said to Jackson that Andy Burnham “just panders to what members want. he’ll be a total disaster” – “the PLP is a joke now .. full of people unable and unwilling to be sensible”.[23] On 3 August 2015, Greg Cook then commented that Kate Hoey “is better than Corbyn, Abbott, Burnham, Nandy, Lewis and about 150 others”.[24]

 

On 12 August 2015, Jo Green said he felt “physically sick about JC”.[25]

 

On 13 August 2015, Jo Greening, Head of International Affairs, and Acting Director of Policy and Political Research Simon Jackson discussed Ed Miliband:

 

GREENING, Jo 10:42: 

he is pathetic 

and probably secretly loves jeremy  Simon Jackson 10:42: 

probably

GREENING, Jo 10:43: 

I mean wtf 

Simon Jackson 10:43: 

quite a legacy to leave the party with[26]

 

Jackson thought the party “could hang in there trying to stay sensible and wait for the storm to pass”, or “it could plunge in to trot hell”, with “NEC pushing Trotism, staff appointments of Trots”.[27] On how Corbyn could appoint a shadow cabinet and who he would get to work for him, Greening said “loads of mad trots”.[28]

 

On 13 August 2015, as it became clear that Jeremy Corbyn might win the Labour leadership election,Jo Green and Stolliday, was moving into GLU soon, discussed delaying or cancelling the election, by claiming insufficient resources to check new members, or by all the other candidates pulling out. Stolliday considered this a “great idea”:

 

John Stolliday 11:44: 

Where do you think Iain & Mike are on delay?

Jo Green 11:45:  finely balanced. in the end i think they have to decide on the basis of whether we have resource to do the checks. rather than a political decision

also the leadership teams would need to sign off delay i am now of the view that the three other candidates could just drop out next week and the whole thing would have to be halted.

John Stolliday 11:45: 

which presumably would risk a huge argument

That would be ace Jo Green 11:46:  it would!

John Stolliday 11:46:  Great idea Jo Green 11:46:  unite could disaffiliate form a new party

John Stolliday 11:47: 

I’ve been assumimng that will be the case anyway within a few years, whoever wins frankly

it would be brilliant for Labour. Financially tough but absolutely great for the party Jo Green 11:51: 

i think it will happen yeah John Stolliday 12:58: 

Byron must be fucking loving this Jo Green 12:59:  well as i understand it he wanted andy to win not sure even his politics are corbyn levels of madness but then again he’ll be wondering what he can get out of it hateful twat

John Stolliday 12:59: 

the mad ones on the NEC all love him – Jennie Formby & Christine Shawcroft[29]

 

On 15 September 2015, after his election victory, Jeremy Corbyn visited party headquarters to greet the staff. The day before, Stolliday, who was about to be appointed to a key role in GLU, and Labour press officer Anna Wright discussed Corbyn’s planned visit:

 

John Stolliday 12:31: 

we were all amazed that somebody has bought dozens of bottles of prosecco mad

Anna Wright 12:31: 

It is ludicrious

I hope the fucking thing is short Cannot be arsed with small talk  John Stolliday 12:32: 

I’m not drinking it, I’m not clapping

I’m going to stay at my desk or leave the office Anna Wright 12:33: 

We need to go up and show face for Team Watson or we’ll end up on a list

Anna Wright 13:00: 

Look at that fucker looking statespersonlike

Looking after our secrurity[30]

 

On 15 September, after the visit, Dan Hogan, then a Policy Communications Officer but from late 2016 to mid-2018 an Investigations Officer in GLU, and Amy Fowler from Fundraising, discussed Corbyn’s visit. Hogan said that a staff member who “whooped” Corbyn’s speech “should be shot”. Fowler noted how all the staff in Labour HQ “kind of hate [Corbyn]”, and she wasn’t sure how Corbyn could address that “massive elephant in the room… without making me hate this more”:

 

Amy Fowler 16:40: 

How did you think it went when he was in earlier? Stevie P whooped and is now dead to Carol Dan Hogan 16:42: 

people were polite. Stevie P should be shot. Jez’s speech was a total crock of shit.

… i clapped. but i probably didn’t do a very good job of masking what i thought.

Amy Fowler 16:44: 

I clapped but I didn’t smile

And it takes a conscious effort for me not to smile in those situations Dan Hogan 16:45: 

i couldn’t look at him. my eyes rolled a lot. i probably shook my head Amy Fowler 16:52: 

I feel like he should have maybe addressed the massive elephant in the room that we all kind of hate him

But I’m not sure how he could have done that without making me hate this more[31]

 

Later that day, key GLU staff member Katherine Buckingham commented:

 

I had some drinks in the office until Jeremy came in. and then all I wanted to do was go home[32]

 

In November 2015, Danny Adilypour (Campaigns Officer – Campaign Technology ) referred to Labour MP Rachel Maskell as a “Trot”.[33] On 25 May 2017, Catherine Bramwell, South East Regional Communications Officer, described a Labour parliamentary candidate in Brighton as “the trot candidate”.[34]

 

Following the 2015 leadership campaign, many staff continued to show their dissatisfaction with MPs who nominated Corbyn, such as Sadiq Khan. On 28 April 2016, a week before the 2016 London Mayoral election, Jo Greening, Head of International Liaison commented that “maybe I will consider voting for [Sadiq Khan] now”, after Khan called for Livingstone to be suspended – “probably not though”.[35] Director of Policy and Research Simon Jackson, meanwhile, said to colleagues regarding a potential snap general election:

 

Ultimately though, who votes for JC?

If it’s a choice btwn him & TMay how do WE vote for him??

I mean we’re not fucking mad[36]

 

Any Labour member who advocates opposing a Labour candidate, or supporting a rival, can be auto-excluded from the party. Just days after Greening’s comments, a Labour member was auto-excluded for saying Sadiq Khan would not be getting their first preference vote for Mayor.[37] Greening’s apparent lack of support for Labour mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan, and Jackson’s apparent lack of support for the Labour Party, was not reported to the Party.

 

On 6 October 2015, Acting Director of Policy and Political Research Simon Jackson said that Iain Duncan-Smith was “shit” but “the mad thing is he’s better than most of our shadow cabinet”.[38] The shadow cabinet was, then, a broad “unity” shadow cabinet, in which only four MPs were supporters of Corbyn.

 

Senior staff commented negatively on Dawn Butler MP’s appointment to the Shadow Cabinet, apparently suggesting that her accusations of racism within the Labour Party were untrue:

 

6/10/2016, 19:16 – Emilie Oldknow: DAWN BUTLER

06/10/2016, 19:16 – Neil Fleming (Acting Head of Press and Broadcasting): Yep. Plp women will go spare.

06/10/2016, 19:17 – Emilie Oldknow: Good grief

06/10/2016, 19:17 – Claire-Frances Fuller: Did she not accuse the LP and its staff of being racist this week? Nice.

06/10/2016, 19:17 – Emilie Oldknow: Harriet “white privilege” Harman[39]

 

Mulholland as PLP Secretary was the main liaison between MPs and the Labour Party.

In February 2017 she said Diane Abbott “literally makes me sick”. In the same WhatsApp group senior staff discussed Abbott crying in the toilets and telling Michael Crick, a Channel 4 reporter at the time, where she was:

 

08/02/2017, 13:04 – Patrick Heneghan: Abbott found crying in the loos

08/02/2017, 13:27 – Julie Lawrence: 😢

08/02/2017, 13:27 – Tracey Allen: Abbott memorial cupboard works well

08/02/2017, 15:52 – Patrick Heneghan: Diane in Leon on vic street

08/02/2017, 15:52 – Fiona Stanton: Shall we tell michael crick

08/02/2017, 15:53 – Patrick Heneghan: Already have 😢[40]

 

Another senior staff member engaged in what could be considered a classic racist trope, calling Diane Abbott an “angry woman”, while his colleague called her “repulsive”:

 

26/01/2017, 23:10 – Neil Fleming: Watching QT without the sound on. Abbot is a very angry woman.

13/06/2017, 22:40 – Greg Cook: Abbott is truly repulsive[41]

 

As mentioned elsewhere in this report, senior staff also remarked in this WhatsApp group that Emily Thornberry was “horrendous” and would “pay in the reckoning” following what they expected to be a poor performance for Labour in the 2017 general election.

 

2.1.4.ii. Staff views on Labour policies

“All [public ownership of rail] looks like is trots doing what trots do”.[42]

 

Labour staff expressed opposition to the policy programme not just of Jeremy Corbyn, but also of Labour’s 2015 manifesto, Ed Miliband and Andy Burnham – all considered to be too far to the “left”. Opposition to key Labour policies was expressed by key staff who worked in GLU or who would later work in GLU, and the General Secretary.

 

On 15 September 2015, Dan Hogan, who later became an Investigations Officer in GLU, commented that a Labour campaign for an EU referendum “makes a change from trident, rail renationalisation and landlord-bashing”.44 He also opposed John McDonnell calling for “corporation tax to go up”:

 

Dan Hogan 11:42: 

brace yourself. McDonnell just called for corporation tax to go up Amy Fowler 11:42:  you’re kidding me

….

I can’t quite believe it[43]

 

On 27 April 2016, Collete Collins-Walsh, Education Policy Officer, and James McBride discussed a Conservative Party critique of left-wing economics:[44]

 

Colette Collins-Walsh 13:40: 

http://www.manchesterconservatives.com/news/contra-corbynomics-why-weshould-be-incredulous-towards-economic-statism 

Finally, higher tax rates do not necessarily yield more revenues because they reduce incentives to work. What Corbyn fails to understand is that the UK is actually becoming more equal. 

James McBride 13:42: 

indeed very tu

true[45]

 

On 29 July 2016 Simon Jackson and Head of Policy Development Anouska Gregorek discussed their opposition to the policy platform of Owen Smith, the rival to Jeremy Corbyn in the 2016 leadership election:

 

Anouska Gregorek 11:52: 

I’m hoping its a genius plan to pretend these are his policies and then when enough

people have voted for him he just quietly sheds policies as they poll badly Simon Jackson 11:52:  well yes, the only thing that matters is winning

BUT

Anouska Gregorek 11:52:  I am holding on to this Simon Jackson 11:52:  the thing about Owen is, he thinks he should eb PM he really does

he doesn’t realise he’s shit

he’d be another Ed[46]

 

On 14 March 2017, Catherine Bramwell, Communications Officer for South East

Region, said “i hate the trots, i hate the trots, i hate them x a million”, and claimed that the idea of rail nationalisation was not popular in South East England – “all it looks like is trots doing what trots do”.[47]

 

During the 2017 General election, General Secretary Iain McNicol responded to the announcement of a policy of free school meals with ridicule:

 

09/04/2017, 13:31 – Iain McNicol: I believe in this policy. Always have but for very different reasons. If you go to a private school. You get school meals. All the teacher’s have to sit with the pupils and they are taught how to eat. Etc etc. 09/04/2017, 13:32 – Tracey Allen: We should get them all to do their BMI before they go around criticizing ‘poor people’!!  I agree with policy but ‘poor kids’ are just as likely to be skinny from bad nutrition and don’t grow.

09/04/2017, 13:33 – Iain McNicol: Next we will be saying most poor people are criminals. And the best way to reduce future offending is by forced castration.

09/04/2017, 13:33 – Iain McNicol: Simon M please don’t respond to that policy.[48]

 

Separately, on 20 May 2017, senior staff wrote how they could not understand LOTO’s decision to oppose the widely-panned “dementia tax.”

 

20/05/2017, 11:10 – Tracey Allen: I know I am not a strategist or policy person but am I totally missing something here? Why aren’t the Trots in favour of rich people paying more towards social care and not getting winter fuel allowance? 20/05/2017, 11:11 – Patrick Heneghan: They normally are

 

On 24 May 2017, after the Westminster Bridge attack, James McBride, a staff member in Labour’s Policy Unit leading on economy and business policy, shared a clip of rightwing Islamophobic commentator Douglas Murray on BBC Daily Politics, saying that all political parties were refusing to confront the reality that terrorism “comes from the religion” of Islam. McBride commented “find it difficult to disagree with this”:

 

James McBride 13:13:  we can’t ignore the fact that while one might be more typically ‘terrorist’ behaviour they still derive from the same ideology 

And western liberal idelogy is reluctant to take it on 

And expose its roots

Which innevitabely involve hard questions- even for so-called moderate islam 

 

The Muslim Council of Britain, the main representative body of Muslims in the UK, wrote a formal letter of concern to the BBC about this appearance by Murray, “a commentator known for his anti-Muslim and anti-Islamic views.” They noted that in a subsequent interview Murray said the UK needed “less Islam”; he had previously said that “conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board”; and “Even the Conservative front bench broke off relations with him many years ago”.[49]

 

             

2.1.4.iii. Labour staff views of Labour members and activists

“Fucking Trots”[50]

“what sort of person only becomes actively involved in politics after a general election?

people who love losing.”[51]

 

Senior Labour staff, including staff in GLU or staff who later worked in GLU, viewed many Labour members and activists as “Trots”. As discussed in Section 2.2, the factional approach to disciplinary action that followed from this has contributed to widespread distrust in the disciplinary process among some Labour members, which has contributed to problems relating to the handling of antisemitism in the Party.

 

On 3 November 2014, John Stolliday, later Director of GLU, discussed trying to stop “trots” from being selected as Labour’s candidate for a parliamentary seat in Scotland, while fellow Labour press officer Anna Wright suggested that Gordon Brown might want someone who “has done some trot nominating” to take his seat:

 

John Stolliday [16:03]: 

We’re in special selections period now, but they’re going to call a special org sub to pretend we’re doing this in a more open way  … there is literally no candidate & while they need someone good to come forward they’re desperate to stop the Scotland trots from using it to increase power base

it’s up for grabs so if you have any friends who would be good get them to go for it Anna Wright [16:08]:  And in Edinburgh No one in the frame?

Okay, I might subtly suggest to one person in particular John Stolliday [16:09]: 

Literally no one – they’re trying to stop some of Johann’s people by the sound of it & want someone good who can keep the seat for ages

Plus they’re all worried about Gordon’;s seat – they want to do an AWS there but GB has apparently kicked off & told them they can’t – he must have someone in mind Anna Wright [16:10]: 

Aye it’ll be some knobber like Alex Rowley

Who I note has done some trot nominating[52]

 

On 18 May 2015, before the 2015 leadership election, Cameron Scott, Scottish

Labour’s Head of Campaigns and Communications and later Regional Director for

 

Eastern Region, suggested “some raging trot” from “the unions” would probably become deputy leader in Scotland.[53]

 

On 22 July 2015, Dan Hogan, who later became an Investigations Officer in GLU, suggested that people who joined the party after an election defeat shouldn’t be allowed to vote: “what sort of person only becomes actively involved in politics after a general election? people who love losing.”[54] On 15 September 2015, Hogan asked “is

Labour in the South East just full of trots?”, on the grounds that “moderates on the [National Policy Forum] got pretty much wiped out in SE / elsewhere, that didn’t happen”.[55] Staff also discussed working to prevent “Trots” winning places on the NPF or on Regional Boards, as well as the Scottish and Welsh Executives.[56] In June 2016 Dan Hogan was looking for people who “use your Britain”, “and who aren’t mad trots”.[57]

 

On 29 July 2015, staff said there would be “rampaging trots” at Labour annual conference, and “stewards [will] need pepper spray” or “body armour”.[58]

 

On 18 August 2015, Danny Adilypour, Campaigns Manager in the Contact Creator, Targeting & Analysis Team, suggested Chuka Umuna should have run, describing the non-Corbyn candidates’ campaigns as “crap” and “dreadful” – “we are where we are. Well and truly fucked.”[59] He and Jim Harvey continued using ableist and abusive language regarding Labour members:

 

Jim Harvey 14:40:  we’re totally fucked.  the party is about to be taken over by complete nut-jobs Danny Adilypour 14:43: 

yeah, all the people commenting on twitter, facebook and elsewhere are completely fucking mental

We’re so fucking screwed

 

After retiring in March 2017, Mike Creighton, GLU’s Director of Risk and Property until then, tweeted that antisemitism in Labour was a “Direct consequence of [Ed

Miliband’s] decision to allow the Labour Leader to be selected by Tories and Trots,” in reference to the more than 250,000 people who voted for Jeremy Corbyn in 2015.[60] On 8 October 2015, Director of Policy and Research Simon Jackson and Head of Planning Jo Green agreed that the PLP “have to get rid of [Corbyn] in the next couple of months or the trots will embed themselves”:

 

Jo Green 13:48: 

this is an entryist thing it’s been set up by lansman and backed by corbyn to sign people up to CLP meetings

shameless

Simon Jackson 13:48:  yep

Jo Green 13:48:  using all the membership records they got during the leadership campaign team fucking trots

Simon Jackson 13:50:  Arseholes

no doubt we’ll stand by and let it happen Jo Green 14:01: 

plp won’t be pleased but they’re totally useless they should be creating a massive fuss about this  Simon Jackson 14:02:  i’m fairly settled now on the view that they have to get rid of him in the next couple of months or the trots will embed themselves that means someone sacrificing themselves Jo Green 14:02: 

it has to be done by next summer at the latest. can’t see them doing it before May. 

yep, but they’re useless Simon Jackson 14:03:  they’ll have changed the rules to get him back on the ballot paper by then Jo Green 14:03: 

Yep[61]

 

On 29 July 2016, similarly, Simon Jackson, Director of Policy and Political Research, commented that Corbyn, who he expected to be returned as leader with an increased majority, “has to go, even if it must be forced”.[62]

 

In May 2017, during the general election, the Manager of the General Secretary’s

Office described how a colleague enjoyed “Trot bashing” more than “Tory bashing”, suggesting greater opposition to members on the left of the Party than opposition to the Conservative Party:

 

03/05/2017, 09:51 – Tracey Allen: Josh loves Tory bashing second only to Trot bashing

 

On 10 April 2017, Laura Repton, Regional Administrator and Lee Gingell discussed discovering a colleague was “a massive trot” – because she and her mother had applied for tickets to hear the leader of the Labour Party speak:[63]

 

Laura Repton 12:03: 

omg

its solved

maria is a massive trot Lee Gingell 12:03: 

really?! how do you know? what did you find out?

Fuck sakes man get them out of my face Laura Repton 12:03: 

she has applied for a ticket 

with her mum

we would love to hear JC speak, please put us down for the ballot Lee Gingell 12:04: 

wtf

she hears members say all night that they don’t like JC how can she still support Laura Repton 12:04:  baffling[64]

 

2.1.4.iv. Abusive and inappropriate language

“hanging and burning [Jeremy Corbyn] does seem like overkill”[65]

 

Senior staff, including Executive Directors, Directors, staff in GLU and staff in the General Secretary’s Office used abusive or inappropriate language. Although this was similar to the language used by Labour members who were suspended by GLU during the leadership election in 2016, no action was taken against GLU staff or other staff who had used such language. The perceived hypocrisy that underlay much of the disciplinary action GLU took in 2016 was, as discussed further in Section 2.2, key to undermining faith in Labour members in the Party’s disciplinary processes.

 

When Corbyn appointed his first shadow cabinet in September 2015, it was the first frontbench team in British history to be majority women. However, some criticised the fact that what they claimed were the four “top” posts, such as shadow Home Secretary, were held by men.[66]

 

On 15 September 2015, Greg Cook sent Jo Greening a spoof video of Jeremy Corbyn as Adolf Hitler discussing this issue, being overtly sexist and homophobic, while someone says “Dan Jarvis will save us”. “Love this”, Greening responded.[67] Other staff, such as Dan Hogan, who later worked in GLU, were also watching and sharing the video.[68]

 

It was deeply inappropriate, offensive and against Labour’s code of conduct for staff to share materials, using Party resources in office hours, likening the newly elected leader of the Labour Party to Adolf Hitler.

 

On 15 June 2015, Head of Press and Broadcasting Jo Green suggested to Acting Director of Policy and Political Research Simon Jackson that “anyone who nominates corbyn ‘to widen the debate’ deserves to be taken out and shot”. Jackson agreed: “quite.”[69] On 15 September 2015, similarly, Dan Hogan said that a staff member who had “whooped” Corbyn’s speech “should be shot”.[70]

 

On 13 August 2015, meanwhile, Ali Moussavi, Economic Advisor in the Leader’s Office and Sarah Brown (Press Officer) discussed “hanging and burning” Jeremy Corbyn:

 

Ali Moussavi 13:10: 

Jeremy Corbyn could end up being like Savonarola

A fanatic priest who deposed the Medicis in a wave of theocratic populism who was then shortly after deposed himself for making Florence a boring place Jeremy might last even fewer days than Savonarola did

man jez is savonarola in so many ways!¬ But we need to finish him Sarah Brown 13:17:  hanging and burning does seem like overkill i am going to go read about savonarola Ali Moussavi 13:17: 

we can figuratively do that but not literally

 

After Brown commented “you don’t get my joke”, Moussavi responded “I didn’t think it was a joke”.[71]

 

On 17 September 2015, shortly after Labour members and supporters voted for Jeremy Corbyn to be leader of the Labour Party, Anna Wright and John Stolliday, who was then moving into a key role in GLU, discussed saying the word “cunt more in the last 48hrs than you have in your life up until that point”, and Wright noted “yesterday I called the Leader of the Labour Party a sexist cunt”.[72] She subsequently noted this may have been “uncomradely” to Corbyn, but Stolliday assured her “It’s not your job to be comradely to the leader”:

 

John Stolliday 09:51: 

It’s not your job to be comradely to the leader, it’s your job to protect and present the ongoing functions of the Labour Party, which will exist long after any incumbant leader

Anna Wright 09:51: 

Yeah but I have slagged him too much John Stolliday 09:51:  That;s what Japes is for Anna Wright 09:51: 

Yes

I think calling him a sexist fucking cunt was too much though[73]

 

Stolliday also used mental health slurs about LOTO Executive Director of

Communications Seumas Milne, describing him as a “total mentalist” and “nutter” who he had previously told to “cock off”.[74] Head of Policy Simon Jackson, similarly, referred to new Labour members who supported Jeremy Corbyn as “nutters” who had “Invaded” the Party, while Head of Policy Development Anouska Gregorek joked about them getting “F U JC” – “Fuck you Jeremy Corbyn” – tattoed on their foreheads.[75] On 10 April 2017, the Manager of Iain McNicol’s office also used a mental health slur to mock people who were joining the Party at the time:

 

10/04/2017, 11:36 –  Simon Mills: Dropped 634 paying members last week. 392 joined. Who are these people…?

10/04/2017, 11:37 – Tracey Allen: Mentalists?

 

On 9 May 2017, GLU’s Head of Disputes Sam Matthews and Teddy Ryan, Regional Organiser, used offensive language about a Labour MP:

 

Sam Matthews 10:39: 

Fuck ’em. Someone’s got to stand up to these progressive alliance wankers Teddy Ryan 10:40: 

tell me about it

clive lewis is the biggest cunt out of the lot  Sam Matthews 10:40: 

it’s like outlook-whack-a-mole

yes. yes he is.[76]

 

On 9 March 2017 a number of senior Labour staff made lewd comments on a WhatsApp chat about the clothing of women Political Advisors, naming individual staff and mocking their appearance:

 

09/03/2017, 16:36 – Sarah Mulholland: Simon apparently the PADs have stopped wearing bras.

09/03/2017, 16:36 – Sarah Mulholland: Hi Tom G! Sorry, this isn’t meant to be for chat about undies. But there are nipples out at the PADs meeting and not a single tie.

09/03/2017, 16:37 – Tracey Allen: Even the female ones!!  Very retrograde demonstration technique. Will they be burning them next ? 😢

09/03/2017, 16:37 – Julie Lawrence: Thank god this doesn’t happen in Southside

 

09/03/2017, 16:38 – Sarah Mulholland: Sarah Vine is wearing a see through, flesh coloured, skin tight top and no bra. No wonder Trickett speaks so highly of her. 09/03/2017, 16:38 – Sarah Mulholland: *Pine not Vine[77]

 

During the 2017 General Election, Executive Director for Governance, Membership and Party Services Emilie Oldknow made sexist and derogatory comments about Laura Murray, a young female member of staff in LOTO, following a negative story about her in the media:

 

21/05/2017, 06:44 – Tracey Allen: http://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/807191/Corbyn-Labour-aide-children-savemoney-inheritance-tax

21/05/2017, 07:40 – Emilie Oldknow: You’d think with all that money she could afford to buy a jacket and a bra[78]

 

Senior staff including Emilie Oldknow, Julie Lawrence and Tracey Allen shared abusive messages regarding LOTO chief of staff Karie Murphy. Oldknow and other staff often called Murphy “Medusa”, Julie Lawrence called her “crazy” and said her face “would make a good dartboard” and Patrick Henegan called her a “bitch face cow”:

 

08/03/2017, 17:43 – Iain McNicol: KM wants any savings from KROW to fund community organising. Does she not realise we haven’t even funded the campaigns.

08/03/2017, 17:45 – Simon Mills: What a fuckwit. We don’t have the money to pay Krow so cutting it does not create cash for COs[79]

08/03/2017, 18:20 – Emilie Oldknow: I got told today that when Karie found out about Gorton, she was throwing things round the office… 08/03/2017, 18:21 – Julie Lawrence: Ha! Crazy woman.

08/03/2017, 18:21 – Emilie Oldknow: I laughed out loud

08/03/2017, 18:22 – Julie Lawrence: Keep poking the bear 😢

08/03/2017, 18:22 – Tracey Allen: Definitely crazy snake head lady rather than plucky Scottish heroine[80]

26/04/2017, 19:31 – Emilie Oldknow: <Media omitted>

26/04/2017, 19:31 – Patrick Heneghan: Bitch face cow

26/04/2017, 19:33 – Julie Lawrence: That would make a good dartboard

26/04/2017, 19:36 – Tracey Allen: Medusa Monster[81]

 

Senior staff, including the Executive Director for Governance, Membership and Party

Services Emilie Oldknow, made further derogatory and abusive comments about LOTO Chief of STAFF Karie Murphy and LOTO Political Secretary Katy Clark. For example:

 

22/11/2016, 11:27 – Emilie Oldknow: Fuck off pube head

22/11/2016, 11:28 – Emilie Oldknow: I’m too busy slagging you off

22/11/2016, 11:28 – Mike Creighton: Can I just point out from my sick-bed there is too much disparaging talk about old folk on this timeline. Salt of the earth dontcherknow.

22/11/2016, 11:28 – Tracey Allen: Who is pube head?

22/11/2016, 11:28 – Emilie Oldknow: To talk to you about Jon Trickett’s diary

22/11/2016, 11:28 – Emilie Oldknow: Katy

 ….

 

24/03/2017, 20:18 – Emilie Oldknow: Katy had the exact same clothes on yesterday

24/03/2017, 20:18 – Emilie Oldknow: Smelly cow

24/03/2017, 20:19 – Tracey Allen: Didn’t she do that at conference too?

24/03/2017, 20:19 – Emilie Oldknow: Yes. Same clothes. Four days

24/03/2017, 20:19 – Patrick Heneghan: Probably slept in them

24/03/2017, 20:19 – Patrick Heneghan: Disgusting

24/03/2017, 20:19 – Emilie Oldknow: Karie is actually fat too

24/03/2017, 20:19 – Emilie Oldknow: There’s a good old role in that photo 24/03/2017, 20:20 – Emilie Oldknow: Roll

 

Many of the above conversations involved key GLU staff, such as Stolliday and

Creighton, and Oldknow, who was responsible for overseeing and managing GLU, and Iain McNicol. The language used in many of these conversations was deeply inappropriate for Labour members, let alone Labour staff, and more serious than many of the comments for which Labour members were suspended in the 2016 leadership election.

 

The Party is not aware of any of these individuals being reported or investigated for this abusive language.

 

Senior staff in Labour HQ also openly insulted a Young Labour member and Corbyn supporter who was suffering from mental health problems. Senior staff including Mike Creighton were aware of these problems but said on WhatsApp that they would like to see him “die in a fire” or “wouldn’t piss on him to put him out”:

 

27/02/2017, 22:38 – Patrick Heneghan: Take a look at @maxshanly’s Tweet:

https://twitter.com/maxshanly/status/836344334572216320?s=08

27/02/2017, 22:38 – Patrick Heneghan: Outrageous

28/02/2017, 06:55 – Emilie Oldknow: That’s funny

28/02/2017, 06:55 – Emilie Oldknow: He’s got mental health issues

28/02/2017, 07:00 – Patrick Heneghan: Still outrageous.[82]

 

26/04/2017, 18:47 – Sarah Mulholland: And ps. I hope Max Shanly dies in a fire.

26/04/2017, 18:48 – Julie Lawrence: 😢

26/04/2017, 18:48 – Mike Creighton: That’s a very bad wish Sarah. But if he does I wouldn’t piss on him to put him out.

26/04/2017, 18:53 – Sarah Mulholland: Wish there was a petrol can emoji[83]

 

18/06/2017, 00:17 – Patrick Heneghan: Take a look at @maxshanly’s Tweet:

https://twitter.com/maxshanly/status/876205863668678661?s=08

18/06/2017, 00:17 – Patrick Heneghan: What a dick

18/06/2017, 09:59 – Tracey Allen: Couldn’t find suitable emoji for him![84]

 

2.1.5. Labour staff approach to work under Jeremy Corbyn

“tap tap tapping away will make us look v busy”[85]

“with a bit of luck this speech will show a clear polling decline”[86]

 

Some staff in LOTO believed that some staff in Labour HQ, including senior staff and staff in GLU and GSO:

 

  • Engaged in factional behaviour.
  • Were obstructive.
  • Adopted a “go slow” attitude towards work.
  • Regularly made negative briefings to the press about the Labour Party.
  • Wanted to depose Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader.
  • Did not want the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership to be electorally successful.

 

On 11 September 2015, John Stolliday discussed his moving into GLU with Tom Hamilton, Head of Briefing and Rebuttal. Stolliday saw his new role as being “on the barricades for the resistance” against Corbyn, suggesting he saw GLU as a unit which can be used to further factional interests, against the interests of the leader:[87]

 

John Stolliday 17:19: 

Bit of a gear change but should be fun Tom Hamilton 17:20:  you’ll be JC’s enforcer John Stolliday 17:20:  (fun=horrific)

er no – i’ll be on the barricades for the resistance[88]

 

On 12 August 2015 Sarah Brown noted that a colleague “might just do a work to rule type thing or take extended holiday”.[89]

 

Jo Green 12:54: 

i feel physically sick about JC

also divided on what to do -on the one hand don’t want to just walk away, but on the other, how can i do my job?

Sarah Brown 12:55: 

yes i feel the same Jo Green 12:55: 

i think all of us must feel the same really. Paddy will just go, i know that.

Sarah Brown 12:56: 

but i also think, a) he won’t be here long, and if nobody good is left when that happens we will be in deep trouble b) if we stay, we might be able to have some positive influence yes Paddy will go but

i pointed out to him that it might be a short period of time JC is here for so he might just do a work to rule type thing or take extended holiday[90]

 

On 18 August 2015, Danny Adilypour and Jim Harvey discussed the party being “fucked” and “taken over by complete nut-jobs”, but they should “stay and fight”:

 

Danny Adilypour 14:43:  We’re so fucking screwed Jim Harvey 14:44:  yes, i’m now leaning towards irrevocably fucked rather than just utterly fucked  Danny Adilypour 14:44:  yup

Jim Harvey 14:44: 

SDP?

Danny Adilypour 14:46: 

Ha, nah we all have to stay and fight. It’s gonna be brutal and take forever, but it’s the only option[91]

 

On 14 September 2015, Stolliday, who was in Media Monitoring but about to move to

GLU, and Press Officer Anna Wright discussed that if LOTO announced a Shadow Welsh Secretary before Corybn spoke with Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones, Jones would “go on broadcast and slag JC”:[92]

 

Anna Wright 11:28: 

if they annc Shad Welsh Secy before they speak, Carwyn is going to go on broadcast and slag JC

John Stolliday 11:29:  good

Anna Wright 11:29: 

Yeah I hope it happens[93]

 

On 22 September 2015, Stolliday and Jo Green discussed the result, including the fact that the party had “already been fucked for the last 7 years” – since Tony Blair resigned, and Gordon Brown became Prime Minister. Stolliday also advised Green to try to get a redundancy payout rather than resign, “even if it means coming into the office & doing nothing for a few months”:[94]

 

Jo Green 11:40:  this organisation is a fucking dying brand. 

we’re fucked

John Stolliday 11:42: 

We’ve already been fucked for the last 7 years. Not sure how much more I can take Jo Green 11:43: 

yes indeed. i am praying for redundo next year. i think it’s likely. 

i’m not sure i can last until May though and my guess is they will happen next summer. 

we’ll see hard to walk away from 11 years service. it’s basically a year salary.

John Stolliday 11:46: 

You’ll be entitled to a decent chunk. Worth staying for it even if it means coming into the office & doing nothing for a few months Jo Green 11:50: 

i think that is quite likely. [95]

 

On 23 September 2015, eleven days after Corbyn was elected leader, Stolliday discussed “how long” Corbyn had “left”, and suggested that there would be “some sort of plot post Xmas” but he would “limp on until we get wiped out” in May 2016 elections (though expressing “fear” that the PLP would be “too deferential” to remove Corbyn):[96]

 

Kieren Walters 14:08: 

how long left do you reckon? John Stolliday 14:08: 

for whom?

Kieren Walters 14:08: 

JC

John Stolliday 14:08: 

I think May elections will be the start bof his downfall Kieren Walters 14:08:  yes think so

John Stolliday 14:09: 

Hopefully new leader in place at conference 2016 Kieren Walters 14:09: 

or immediately after Christmas that is often when things kick off John Stolliday 14:09: 

I reckon there will be some sort of plot post Xmas, but he will have enough support

to limp on until we get wiped out in Wales & Scotland & local elections Kieren Walters 14:10:  good analysis I think John Stolliday 14:11: 

We’ll see

My fear is the PLP are too bloody deferential and don;t take action[97]

 

On 15 September, similarly, Jo Green and Sarah Waite discussed Corbyn’s election:[98]

 

Jo Green 14:28: 

the more madness the quicker it ends Sarah Waite 14:29:  god what if it doesn’t

what if all this talk of members joining just goes on  and everyone is like ok, well we must be doing ok we need a POLL

that says we’re like 20 points behind Jo Green 14:36:  yes but he will have a little honeymoon won’t last long[99]

 

On 15 September 2015, in working hours and with staff systems, Dan Hogan, who later worked for GLU as an Investigations Officer, encouraged Amy Fowler to join the “Labour First” mailing list:

 

Dan Hogan 11:04: 

what’s your non-party email address?

Amy Fowler 11:05: 

fowler.amy@gmail.com Dan Hogan 11:06: 

are you on the Labour First mailing list?

Amy Fowler 11:06:  no but I should be Dan Hogan 11:07: 

http://eepurl.com/Nzh75 [a link to the “Labour First” sign-up page] Amy Fowler 11:07: 

Thanks

Amy Fowler 11:11: 

are you going to be a key contact in your clp?

Dan Hogan 11:12:  yeah. i’ve also said i’ll help set up a group in Wandsworth once I’m out of OBG[100]

 

Hogan advised that “(if you email him, drop my name in 🙂 )” – probably a reference to “Labour First” national organiser Luke Akehurst – to which Fowler said: “I will email him. Though I don’t know how much help I’ll ever be from my clp.”[101]

 

On 20 October 2015, Jo Green commented, in terms of leaks to the press, that “this place is like a sieve”.[102] Later, in January 2018, when Hogan was working in GLU, fellow Disputes Officer Louise Withers-Green commented that Hogan was “a leaky cauldron”.[103]

 

On 8 October 2015, Director of Policy and Research Simon Jackson and Head of Planning Jo Green discussed getting “rid” of Corbyn, with someone “sacrificing themselves”:

 

Simon Jackson 14:02:  i’m fairly settled now on the view that they have to get rid of him in the next couple of months or the trots will embed themselves that means someone sacrificing themselves Jo Green 14:02: 

it has to be done by next summer at the latest. [104]

 

In December 2015, the Oldham by-election took place, viewed as the first “electoral test” of Labour under Jeremy Corbyn. Labour won with an increased majority, sending Labour MP Jim McMahon to parliament. Katy Dillon, Press Officer and later Labour’s Broadcast Manager, described Labour’s victory as “bittersweet”, while Lisa Forsyth expressed hope that the May 2016 elections would lead to “the boot” for Corbyn:

 

Katy Dillon 15:52:  the result on thursday was bittersweet

could not believe it

Lisa Forsyth 15:53: 

It’s in spite of him tho. Hopfullly May will be the boot...

Katy Dillon 15:53: 

course it is

but all his little dsiciples dont know that Lisa Forsyth 15:54: 

Cos they are bats*t crazy 

Total nutters[105]

 

In April 2016 Francis Grove-White, Labour International Policy Officer, met Luke Akehurst from “Labour First”, and commented to Greening that it was “very encouraging to hear how organised they are regarding conference”.[106]

 

On 29 April 2016, Ben Murphy, Local Government Officer, and Hollie Ridley, Eastern

Region, discussed prospects of Corbyn being removed:[107]

 

Ben Murphy 11:43: 

I think he still has solid support in the membership – just have to hope bad performances and all of this weakens him Hollie Ridley 11:43: 

and they all lapse there membership Ben Murphy 11:43: 

aye[108]

 

On 13 June 2016, Greg Cook and Jo Greening discussed if Remain lost in the EU Referendum, at least Corbyn could be “seen to be responsible”:

 

 

Jo Greening 14:23: 

so greg  what the hell is going to happen in this referendum?!!!!

Greg Cook 14:23: 

I still think Remain will win Jo Greening 14:23:  phew

Greg Cook 14:24: 

But at least if not, Corbyn will clearly be seen to be responsible Jo Greening 14:24: 

yes [109]

 

On 4 November 2016, Policy Officer Dan Hogan, who was about to move to GLU, asked a colleague:

 

how do we make the NPF Brexit session as difficult and unhelpful to McDonnell and Corbyn as possible?[110]

 

Senior staff in “SMT Group” spoke openly with one another about hoping that the Liberal Democrats “can do it” in the Manchester Gorton by-election:

 

27/02/2017, 16:53 – Patrick Heneghan: Just had discussion at strategy meeting We will meet Steve and Andy next Monday – we are looking at all 3 in May but select in Gorton within 4 weeks  Katy will speak to you/Iain

27/02/2017, 16:53 – Patrick Heneghan: From karie

27/02/2017, 16:54 – Patrick Heneghan: They didn’t include us in the discussion.

27/02/2017, 16:54 – Patrick Heneghan: Well let’s hope the lib dems can do it.113

 

On 28 February 2017 senior staff including Iain McNicol discussed using their positions to delay the change to One Member One Vote (OMOV) which could widen the franchise in Labour Party youth elections, apparently to advantage their favoured faction: “Delay. Procrastinate. John Mann did 2 years as Nols Chair in 80s to keep Trots at bay. Worked then”:

 

28/02/2017, 18:18 – Iain McNicol: How many student members do we have. Has a check been done on those to see how many are actually students.

113

28/02/2017, 18:24 Patrick Heneghan: Turns out the membership system only stores those who pay student rate. About 29k

28/02/2017, 18:24 – Patrick Heneghan: Labour students not paying that rate are not tagged in membership system

28/02/2017, 18:25 – Patrick Heneghan: Half labour students national cmte pay different rate

28/02/2017, 18:25 – Patrick Heneghan: Balloting on that basis would not be robust

28/02/2017, 18:25 – Patrick Heneghan: Potentially open to challenge

28/02/2017, 18:26 – Patrick Heneghan: What a shame but they will need more time 28/02/2017, 18:26 – Patrick Heneghan: They will write to you to ask for help in

understanding how to sort this within membership system

28/02/2017, 18:26 – Patrick Heneghan: Ol

28/02/2017, 18:26 – Patrick Heneghan: Ok

28/02/2017, 18:33 – Tracey Allen: And what is his reply?

28/02/2017, 18:34 – Patrick Heneghan: Whose reply?

28/02/2017, 19:00 – Iain McNicol: Mine. That’s fine.

28/02/2017, 19:13 – Patrick Heneghan: We can draft that too. But let’s not reply too fast.

28/02/2017, 19:15 – Tracey Allen: I only meant in brief. Not actual draft 28/02/2017, 19:16 – Tracey Allen: I understand we’re playing politics here but wondered what next stage of strategy is

28/02/2017, 19:16 – Patrick Heneghan: We look at the issues

28/02/2017, 19:17 – Patrick Heneghan: They appear to large to resolve this year 28/02/2017, 19:17 – Patrick Heneghan: Ask party for a plan to change way system works

28/02/2017, 19:17 – Patrick Heneghan: Delay omov

28/02/2017, 19:18 – Tracey Allen: Delay. Procrastinate. John Mann did 2 years as Nols Chair in 80s to keep Trots at bay. Worked then114

 

Later in March, Emilie Oldknow, Executive Director of Governance, Membership and Party Services, discussed with other staff in the General Secretary’s Office how she would ensure only her allies had a majority on the Manchester Gorton selection panel, giving a blow-by-blow account of her actions in undermining the wishes of the Leader’s Office:

 

06/03/2017, 09:56 – Julie Lawrence: Em, do we need TW on officers?

06/03/2017, 09:57 – Tracey Allen: I’ll go and spk to her.

06/03/2017, 09:57 – Emilie Oldknow: Yes. He’s coming. Lucy is sorting 06/03/2017, 09:57 – Julie Lawrence: Fab

 

114

06/03/2017, 13:36 Emilie Oldknow: FYI Glenis isn’t going to remove RLB from panel so we will probably end up with 6…

06/03/2017, 13:36 – Emilie Oldknow: Lucy thinks she will

06/03/2017, 13:37 – Julie Lawrence: Largest panel ever 😢

06/03/2017, 13:41 – Emilie Oldknow: Yes. Which I think Ann will push against but let’s see where we get to

06/03/2017, 14:41 – Iain McNicol: Hilarious

06/03/2017, 14:45 – Julie Lawrence: Ann just told me she’s doing it 06/03/2017, 14:57 – Emilie Oldknow: Yep…

06/03/2017, 15:10 – Emilie Oldknow: TW getting twitchy and Diana not on. Can we get on with this and Gorton?

06/03/2017, 15:16 – Julie Lawrence: Next item

06/03/2017, 15:18 – Emilie Oldknow: We have to get on with this!!!

06/03/2017, 15:18 – Emilie Oldknow: Tom needs to go

06/03/2017, 15:22 – Emilie Oldknow: I’m literally hiding in my office 06/03/2017, 15:22 – Emilie Oldknow: On my own 06/03/2017, 15:22 – Emilie Oldknow: …..

06/03/2017, 15:23 – Emilie Oldknow: Oh my god

06/03/2017, 15:23 – Emilie Oldknow: I’m dying!!!!

06/03/2017, 15:23 – Patrick Heneghan: What’s happening?

06/03/2017, 15:24 – Emilie Oldknow: Trying to remove RLB

06/03/2017, 15:24 – Emilie Oldknow: Eeeeek

06/03/2017, 15:29 – Emilie Oldknow: Say proposal to remove RLB

06/03/2017, 15:29 – Emilie Oldknow: And that need to be voted on

06/03/2017, 15:29 – Emilie Oldknow: Iain

06/03/2017, 15:30 – Emilie Oldknow: Nancy should not speak!!!

06/03/2017, 15:33 – Emilie Oldknow: John will need vote to remove RLB

06/03/2017, 15:33 – Emilie Oldknow: He will push that

06/03/2017, 15:35 – Emilie Oldknow: Iain – don’t take Katy

06/03/2017, 15:37 – Emilie Oldknow: Nancy is a fucking idiot

06/03/2017, 15:48 – Emilie Oldknow: Hahahaha

06/03/2017, 15:48 – Emilie Oldknow: Oh my god. Tin hat time

06/03/2017, 15:48 – Emilie Oldknow: I’m scared

06/03/2017, 15:48 – Emilie Oldknow: Eeeeek

06/03/2017, 16:08 – Julie Lawrence: Nancy spitting feathers115

 

Senior staff also spoke of facilitating Deputy Leader Tom Watson leaking confidential Party documents:

 

13/04/2017, 13:37 – Emilie Oldknow: I think this needs to be cc’d to TW 13/04/2017, 13:37 – Patrick Heneghan: He will leak it

115

13/04/2017, 13:37 Emilie Oldknow: In addition, the George S meeting wasn’t any worse than any of the other meetings we did

13/04/2017, 13:37 – Tracey Allen: Oh awful – for her too. And just think you could be in Jamie’s with me and your team 😢

13/04/2017, 13:37 – Emilie Oldknow: He won’t leak it as it criticises Sion

13/04/2017, 13:38 – Tracey Allen: Good

13/04/2017, 13:38 – Emilie Oldknow: 😢😢

13/04/2017, 13:38 – Patrick Heneghan: I think we ask for meeting with tw and jc

13/04/2017, 13:38 – Julie Lawrence: He can leak it after elections if its useful

13/04/2017, 13:38 – Patrick Heneghan: Cover for tw to be ccd116

 

116

 

2.1.6. Regional staff

“most of what we do is behind the scenes”[111]

 

As will be discussed in Section 3.1 and elsewhere in the report, in this period regional staff played a critical role in disciplinary procedures, both in initiating cases and proposing decisions on cases, and in then investigating and progressing cases that had begun.

 

Many on the left of the Party believed that staff in Labour’s Regions played a factional role, however, which further engendered mistrust in the disciplinary process.

 

On 17 August 2015, Danny Adilypour and Regional Organiser Teddy Ryan, both Labour staff members, discussed CLP nominations:

 

Danny Adilypour 16:24: 

It was scary how many Trots turned up for the Streatham meeting last week Teddy Ryan 16:24:  how close was it Danny Adilypour 16:24:  Liz beat Corbyn by 2 Teddy Ryan 16:36:  christ. That’s unreal

Danny Adilypour 16:37: 

Yeah it’s terrifying

That’s oart of the reason we’re nervous about Vauxhall Teddy Ryan 16:38: 

surely vauxhall will be fine Danny Adilypour 16:38: 

I think it will be, but you just can’t take anything for granted at the moment[112]

 

On 14 September 2015 (two days after Jeremy Corbyn’s election as leader), Regional Organisers Ellie Buck and Rob Sherrington discussed staff at Labour HQ’s view of Corbyn:

 

Ellie Buck 11:59:  if he hasnt gone within a few months a lot of staff will leave  Rob Sherrington 12:00: 

John McDonald will be the catalyst for the plp to get rid of him. Ellie Buck 12:18: 

Hopefully[113]

 

On 18 January 2016 South East regional staff member Ellie Buck joked her role was

“fighting tories and trots by day, criminals by night”,[114] while in December 2016 Fraser

Welsh, Deputy General Secretary for Wales, explained part of his work as involving

“not conceding CLPs to Corbynite bullies”.[115]

 

In November 2015, Welsh regional staff discussed “putting together a list of trots who want to come to the corbyn event tomorrow”, referring to Labour Party members who had emailed asking to attend, and expressed disappointment that they couldn’t refuse entry.[116] And in January 2016 regional organisers Rob Sherrington and Ellie Buck discussed organising an event for Labour Party members, where they wanted the “audience to be hand picked (no trots basically)” – for which they had “to find 130 sensible people”:

 

Rob Sherrington 13:52:  bloody hell, that’s a task.

Ellie Buck 13:57: 

innit [117]

 

In October 2017, two Regional staff discussed Momentum’s job adverts for “regional organiser” positions, noting they will try “to fuck up regions”, though “they’re not going to be good enough”, describing it as “very badly paid” but “basically doing our job but motivated”:

 

I think they will they will do the groundwork we cannot be arsed doing and they will engage the members in a way we cannot be fucked with. They are going to be so motivated

 

They continued:

 

Teddy Ryan 15:19: 

i simply don’t have the time Ciaran Tully 15:20: 

I know that’s the issue most of what we do is behind the scenes Teddy Ryan 15:20: 

yup[118]

 

2.1.6. The 2015 leadership election – “Validation”

“priority right now is trot hunting”.[119] 

 

After the May 2015 election, and continuing into the summer as the Corbyn leadership campaign got underway, there was a surge of people joining the Labour Party, as full members, or as “registered supporters” who had a vote in the leadership election.

 

With the help of other staff across the Party, including staff such as Dan Hogan who would later join GLU, in the summer of 2015 GLU launched a process of checking new members and supporters, particularly on social media, to remove them from the process. Staff described “stalking” people on social media to find people who are “trotty” or a “twat”, despite acknowledging:

 

really makes you think about what you put on social media really worried if i was to be stalked i would sound like a twat.[120]

 

Numerous staff were involved in this, both senior and junior. Staff discussed “hunting out 1000s of trots”,[121] and described this as “trot busting” work,[122] “bashing trots”,[123]

“trot spotting”,[124] “the trot hunt”,[125] and “trot hunting”.[126] Simon Jackson, Acting Director of Policy and Political Research, would reportedly “go on about trot busting”;[127] another staff member was “celebrating every time he finds a trot”;[128] and Danny Adilypour (Campaigns Manager Contact Creator, Targeting & Analysis Team) discussed being “trot smasher in chief”.[129] As Cameron Scott, Eastern Regional Director, said on 19 August 2015: “priority right now is trot hunting”.[130] On 14 August

2015 Research Officer Dominic Murphy suggested they “call the purge ‘trot or not’ now”,[131] while he and Katherine Buckingham, GLU’s Head of Disputes, discussed the fact they were “playing trot or not” while “real work is piling up”.[132]

 

Conversely, on 22 July 2015, despite arguing that people who joined the party after an election shouldn’t be allowed a vote, Dan Hogan (who later moved to GLU) nevertheless said that:

 

for what it’s worth, anyone who writes in [to the policy team] who doesn’t sound like a trot-lodite, i’m giving to the membership team to see if they can convince them to sign up as a supporter [and get a vote].[133]

 

On 5 August 2015, meanwhile, Acting Director of Policy and Political Research Simon Jackson said Guardian journalist Owen Jones is “an arsehole”, and wanted him taken off the panel of a Young Labour conference event. Sarah Mulholland suggested that a row would lead to him being reinstated by McNicol, “because us thinking he’s an arse isn’t a legitimate reason to remove him from a panel”:

 

Simon Jackson 10:35: 

it seems to be reason for disallowing people a vote in the leadership election Sarah Mulholland 10:35: 

that is for the saving of the Labour Party! not a vendetta against a mad person Simon Jackson 10:37: 

Young Labour need to not be trots, that is not a vendetta Sarah Mulholland 10:37: 

if only they weren’t, my life would be so much jollier Rosie is going to speak to you about trot purge[134]

 

Jackson and Mulholland thus confirmed that Labour staff thinking someone such as Owen Jones was an “arsehole”, was then enough of a reason to disallow them a vote in the leadership election.

 

On 10 September 2015, Dan Hogan and Amy Fowler discussed “purging” someone for having “liked” some Facebook pages, while Hogan described “perusing the Stop The Labour Purge FB page” and “getting even by just purging everyone who shared it”.

Fowler expressed concern for his mental health and him “fixating” on this – “Can you maybe just try to let it go?”[135] Elsewhere, Hogan discussed “hunting through all the anarchists and trots who shared it to purge them too”.[136]

 

As discussed in Section 3.2, the Labour Party has identified that in 2017 there were at least 170 Labour members reported to GLU for antisemitism with clear evidence of their membership, who were not acted against. (This does not include numerous complaints not sent up to GLU from Regions, or many other complaints where members were less clearly identifiable.) Hogan was then one of two Disputes officers, employed by the party to deal with these complaints. The Governance and Legal Unit’s lack of action on complaints is detailed later. Comparing this to the extensive work on so-called “Trot busting” suggests that staff were far less motivated to tackle complaints, including antisemitism and other abuse, than they were to suspend members because of their left-wing political views.

 

In this period, staff “Trot busting” included flagging people simply for having “liked” a

Facebook page, or having retweeted the Green Party on an issue they agreed with. On 12 August 2015, NEC member Alice Perry expressed her concern about some of the people staff had flagged:

 

Tony Smart – donating to the People’s Assembly is not an anti-Labour activity!

 

Caroline King – her Facebook likes are fine, very similar to lots of members of the Labour Party. We can’t block people just because they like the people’s assembly and UK uncut. I wouldn’t consider these to be far left either (and I’ve spent the last few weeks looking at proper far left left unity/TUSC tweets and blogs)[137]

 

People were rejected as members or supporters in 2015 for retweets, including single retweets. A 21 August 2015 list of 238 rejected members, for example, included someone who “Retweeted Class War”; “Retweets the [National Health Action] party and appears to have been a supporter of them”’; someone with a “Pattern of retweeting Green Party material and expressing support”; and someone who retweeted a Mark Thomas tweet saying “Dear Labour… get fucked” after many Labour MPs’ abstained on the welfare bill, which was opposed by many Labour members. It also included members rejected with the note “green party supporter -likes on facebook”, and “likes a lotta greens on FB”.[138]

 

Later, in 2016, GLU’s Head of Disputes Katherine Buckingham recalled that “there were so many mistakes last year that the NEC essentially told us that everyone should get an appeal”.[139]

 

 

2.1.7. Staff appointments and culture

“[E]veryone [at Labour HQ] considers anyone left of Brown to be a trot.”[140]

 

Many staff at Labour HQ had a background in “Labour Students”.

 

“Labour Students” was an organisation historically, and then, run by people from the “right” of the party, as opposed to the “left” and “soft left”. They appear to have had an internal culture of calling people to their left “Trots”.

 

Staff discussed jobs being “stitched up” for Labour students. For example, in January

2016 Sam Matthews, who later became GLU’s Head of Disputes and then Acting

Director of GLU as a whole, and was then an employee of “Oasis” and formerly in

Labour’s print team, enquired about a Labour vacancy – “Campaigns Officer – Campaign Materials and Direct Mail”. He was encouraged to apply by a Labour staff member, , but Matthews expressed concern that “I’m mediocre (at best) at copywriting  :/ – and got rejected from that job the last time I went for it”.

 

Matthews was reminded  that the team “know you” and:

 

all of the other people who apply will probably be internal Labour hacks with not that much legit copywriting experience outside of producing campaign materials or stuff for Labour students.

 

Matthews asked, however:

 

Won’t it be a stitch up for a Labour Student though?

 

The response was: “Maybe under the Sarah regime, but now we’re under Tom management”. Matthews said he would apply for a role, but added:

 

As an aside, could you give me a heads up if it does end up being a stitch up for someone? I’ll probably go through with it anyway to pop back up on their radar that I want back in, but it would be useful to know.

 

The Labour staff member said: “I’ve not seen any evidence of it to be honest, but that might be because Tom is less blatant about such things.”[141]

 

A 17 February 2015 conversation between Executive Director for Governance,

Membership and Party Services Emilie Oldknow and Emma Meehan regarding a job in

 

the Compliance unit, could give an indication of how hiring processes worked at the time:

 

Emilie Oldknow [09:27]: 

Sarah tells me that your sister is looking for a job?

Emma Meehan [09:27]: 

Yeah she is

Emilie Oldknow [09:27]: 

We have an admin role coming up in the compliance unit

It is a bit boring, helping Margaret with donation reports etc but it gets her in the door and gives her some experience?

Do you think she would be interested?

Emma Meehan [09:28]: 

Yes she definitely would, shes been looking for admin work in London shes pretty new to the party Emilie Oldknow [09:28]: 

Okay great. That means she will be completely maleable….

Emma Meehan [09:28]: 

but it would be really good experience for her Emilie Oldknow [09:28]: 

Mwah ha ha ha[142]

 

On 6 July 2015, two staff members discussed the fact “these labour students” working in the office all supported Liz Kendall, who gained 4.5% of the vote in the 2015 leadership election.149 In July 2016, as discussed later, ten people from “Labour Students” were recruited to work on suspending and excluding Labour members and supporters in the 2016 leadership election.[143]

 

On 17 May 2016, Campaigns Analyst Josh Carrington, seeing a press officer talking openly of “smashing Trots” and “mad Trots”, commented that a newer colleague was going through the same process he had in “Head Office”, where you:

 

slowly realise that everyone, everyone else is much more right-wing and considers anyone left of brown to be a trot.[144]

 

Numerous staff privately messaged each other that Joshua Carrington himself was “a trot”, reminding each other to be careful of what they said in his presence. On 12 June 2017, for example, four days after the general election, Anna Phillips messaged Ellie Miller, Campaign and Shadow Cabinet Visits Manager, “remember josh is a trot” – “he seemed happy with the result this morn”.[145]

 

However, Joshua Carrington himself took part in the 2015 “Trot hunt”, referred to leftwing staff associated with LOTO during the 2017 general election as “Fucking Trots” and enjoyed “[making] fun of the leadership” to its supporters.[146] He appears not to have been a supporter of Liz Kendall, however.[147] This may have been why other staff referred to him as a “Trot”.

 

Ben Nolan from Digital was also described as “troty” – “he sees our increase in membership as a good thing which is always worrying”.[148] Some staff referred to the digital team as “trot corner”,[149] specifying Ben Nolan and Joshua Carrington.[150]

 

In summer 2015, meanwhile, staff warned that Jack Smith was a “Trot” – “that little Trot”, as Jo Green put it.[151] On 22 June 2015, Sarah Mulholland, then Head of Campaigns and Stakeholders, said:

 

that Jack Smith is a right trot

and he’s pals with all the young labour trots. So we need to be reallly careful[152]

 

On 17 July 2015, Campaigns Officer Stephen Donnelly warned colleagues that Jack Smith “is a big ‘ol trot and dead pally with al the [Young Labour] trots”. Sarah

Mullholland asked “hows he been allowed to work here”, to which the answer was TULO, the Trade Union Liaison Organisation. Donnelly commented “lovely guy, but the enemy as far as these chats are concerned”. Michael Rubin said: “Annoying he’s here” – “viper in the nest”.[153]

 

When Smith was positioned near staff working on the “Trot hunt”, Patrick Heneghan, Executive Director of Elections, Campaigns and Organisation, reportedly advised “we just have to work secretly and stop broadcasting”, which the staff struggled with: “I christened myself the Trot Catcher this morning, and then I remembered…”[154] They referred to this as “operation ‘don’t let jack smith know we’re kicking out trots’”.[155]

 

Ben Soffa, meanwhile, had been working for the TSSA union and in 2015 was head of Digital on the Jeremy Corbyn leadership election. After the election, he got a job as head of Digital in Labour HQ – the only such appointment that happened at the time.

Other senior staff would refer to him as a “Trot”. On 7 December 2015, for example, Director of Policy and Research Simon Jackson and Head of Planning Jo Green discussed Ben Soffa:

 

Jo Green 13:48: 

getting second hand reports from the trot in digital not exactly joined up thinking. Simon Jackson 13:48: 

quite[156]

 

On 13 May 2016, Greg Cook commented that “You can see who all the Trots are in the building. They all want Ben’s postcards”, to which Executive Director for Elections, Campaigns and Organisation Patrick Heneghan responded “too many.”[157]

 

Whether or not staff considered applicants for job vacancies to be “Trots” appears to have influenced hiring decisions.

 

In October 2015, for example, Simon Jackson explained to Jo Green how he had appointed a new “International Officer”, from a thinktank:

 

Jo Green 12:42:  that’s good. so not a trot either presumably Simon Jackson 12:42:  no, good politics[158]

 

In January 2016, Greg Cook and Stephen Pattison discussed how applicants for a vacancy so far were “Trots” – so “If i can get away with it, I won’t employ anyone for the [role].”[159]

 

On 14 February 2017 Fraser Welsh, who later moved to GLU, on the other hand, suggested a different approach regarding a director job, but apparently with similar

 

motivations: “it may be sensible politics to give responsibility of mobilising all the trots to someone who is a bit troty, so that when the trots don’t do anything, and we lose badly, it’s a trot that gets thrown under a bus”.[160]

 

Staff expressed an expectation that their colleagues would be hostile to supporters of

Jeremy Corbyn, even mocking the idea of “chatting” with “Corbynite mates”.[161] On 4

August 2015, staff spoke about a colleague defending Corbyn on her personal Facebook, and John Stolliday, who would soon be moving to GLU, asked for screenshots in order to get her “sacked”:

 

Sarah Brown 13:59:  so did you just hear KS Sarah Brown 13:59: 

saying a corbyn leadership will make it easier to recruit a new digital team John Stolliday 13:59: 

No? Really???

Paul Ovenden 13:59:  brilliant

John Stolliday 14:00:  she must love corbyn She is a green after all Paul Ovenden 14:00: 

she does – I saw her on Facebook mounting a passionate defence of him.

John Stolliday 14:00: 

Find me screenshots & I’ll have her sacked for breaching staff code of conduct[162]

 

On 5 January 2017, discussing a move to a job in the third sector, Hester Waterfield discussed it being “so awks” that she would now be working with “a corbynite”:

 

Hester Waterfield 11:41: 

the other person i [will be] managing is def a corbynite Hayley Sothinathan 11:42:  that is going to be so awks Hester Waterfield 11:43: 

i am just going to have to learn to have a professional persona[163]

 

Iain McNicol complained openly about LOTO’s efforts to appoint staff, who he described as “fellow trot travellers”, calling LOTO “fucking twats”:

 

09/04/2017, 02:33 – Iain McNicol: The irony if them complaining about recruit process. It is actually beyond irony. Family, friends,  friends of family and fellow trot travellers come get a job. No interview. Infact you don’t even need to fill an application in. Fucking twats. Don’t do the meeting next week as I want to be in it.

Maybe you could start by asking loto what qualifications any of them have.

09/04/2017, 03:05 – Iain McNicol: Of

09/04/2017, 07:41 – Emilie Oldknow: Hahaha

09/04/2017, 07:41 – Emilie Oldknow: Brilliant Iain[164]

 

In the 2017 general election, LOTO staff moved to Labour HQ to work on the election. After the election, some of these people stayed on for a bit, and LOTO was subsequently able to ensure that a handful of LOTO staff, or left-wing staff, were able to fill vacancies in Labour HQ, mainly in the press team.

 

Many existing Labour HQ staff referred to all these people as “Trots”.

 

In March 2017, for example, Neil Fleming, Acting Head of Press and Broadcasting, and Katy Dillon, Broadcast Manager, described future Labour press officer Sophie Nazemi as “Sophie the Trot” and “trot sophie”.[165]

 

In July 2017, Ellie Miller, Head of Business Relations, referred to “all stupid trots” in Labour HQ,[166] while Labour Press Officer Ben Murphy referred to LOTO as a “gang of trots”.[167] In August 2017 Neil Fleming commented on “the entirety of LOTO Comms” being “in Southside today”:

 

Awful

I’m coming in to see Iain next week I’ll have a go at him about it. They don’t need to be there, its not up to the party to give them desks when parliament has already given them one.[168]

 

In October 2017, Colette Collins-Walsh, Education Policy Officer, called her colleague Georgie Robertson from the press team “Georgie the Trot Princess.”[169] She noted that

with Robertson, Sophie Nazemi and others joining the press office would soon be

filled with “trots”.[170]

2.1.8. The LOTO – Labour HQ relationship

 

Throughout this period, relationships between LOTO and Labour HQ, including GSO and GLU, were extremely strained. This evidence demonstrates that, contrary to what has been claimed by some to the EHRC, LOTO was not able to instruct GLU, GSO or other parts of HQ, which were, on the contrary, openly hostile to LOTO.

 

In December 2016, Tracey Allen suggested keeping LOTO staff away from Head Office by “burn[ing] incense… to ward off Trots”:

 

23/12/2016, 16:09 – Tracey Allen: Ah yes. Now it’s coming back to me. Maybe we can burn incense in the office to ward off Trots.

23/12/2016, 16:11 – Julie Lawrence: We’ve tried everything else so why not. 23/12/2016, 16:15 – Tracey Allen: Ha ha ha[171]

 

In February 2017, after a leak of private Party polling, Emilie Oldknow advised to contact the polling company specifically to prevent LOTO staff from discovering the source of the leak:

 

11/02/2017, 14:10 – Iain McNicol: Patrick do you have Michael at BMG mobile number. It looks like drop box has leaked. I need to call him urgently. Also can you do me a list of who has access. Ta

11/02/2017, 14:11 – Tracey Allen: 07545 818 949 11/02/2017, 14:12 – Patrick Heneghan: Top of my head 11/02/2017, 14:13 – Patrick Heneghan: Me.

11/02/2017, 14:13 – Patrick Heneghan: Isabel

11/02/2017, 14:13 – Patrick Heneghan: But Loto do not know that

11/02/2017, 14:13 – Patrick Heneghan: Loto staff. Simon and jack I think

11/02/2017, 14:13 – Patrick Heneghan: Staff in trickett offices

11/02/2017, 14:13 – Patrick Heneghan: Again don’t know who

11/02/2017, 14:14 – Patrick Heneghan: Tricket told them not to give his access

11/02/2017, 14:14 – Patrick Heneghan: Us access

11/02/2017, 14:16 – Patrick Heneghan: I got email from bmg saying access to it ends today

11/02/2017, 14:16 – Patrick Heneghan: That will be about contract ending 11/02/2017, 14:28 – Patrick Heneghan: Basically access was tricketts decision and only he or leah will know the full list of people he allowed access

11/02/2017, 14:28 – Patrick Heneghan: I’m guessing Simon and jack

11/02/2017, 14:28 – Patrick Heneghan: Cos I heard something about karie getting angry they had access

 

11/02/2017, 14:30 – Emilie Oldknow: Karie told us on Tuesday that her and others now had access too

11/02/2017, 14:32 – Iain McNicol: Karie said it is digitally recorded so will know who has access. She also said John McDonnell had called Michael.no idea what said. 11/02/2017, 14:43 – Iain McNicol: OK.  Sounds like the northern testing that was done on individual politicians. JC John mcd RLB. Etc. He is not sure if Sunday times have document or just loose talk.

11/02/2017, 14:44 – Iain McNicol: He said from our end

Patrick

Greg C

Isobel

Tim. He thinks that is all who have access

11/02/2017, 14:44 – Patrick Heneghan: Wasn’t sure about greg

11/02/2017, 14:45 – Patrick Heneghan: I did email him stuff tho 11/02/2017, 14:45 – Patrick Heneghan: <Media omitted> 11/02/2017, 14:45 – Patrick Heneghan: It was the monkey….

11/02/2017, 14:53 – Simon Mills: BMG think contract is being extended so access should remain

11/02/2017, 14:56 – Patrick Heneghan: Must be automated email linked to original contract date

11/02/2017, 15:57 – Emilie Oldknow: Great. Another leak investigation. Just what we all need

11/02/2017, 16:13 – Emilie Oldknow: Just thinking about it

11/02/2017, 16:13 – Emilie Oldknow: I think Iain needs to email BMG and tell them not to pass information on who has access on to anyone but either you or me[172]

 

On 18 April 2017 senior HQ staff described said LOTO staff should be sacked:

 

18/04/2017, 12:55 – Patrick Heneghan: Loto campaigns team…..

18/04/2017, 12:55 – Patrick Heneghan: Need to be redeployed 18/04/2017, 12:55 – Patrick Heneghan: To the job centre[173]

 

After the 2017 election co-operation from Labour HQ improved slightly, but the relationship was still very strained.

 

For example, on 2 October 2017, Oldknow commented in advance of a meeting that “I can tell you now” what Karie Murphy would say regarding the election result – “It was all down to LOTO and Momentum” – while referring to another senior LOTO staffer as an “an egotistical maniac”.[174]

Later that month, LOTO Stakeholder Manager Laura Murray asked of GLU-GSO: “Could the digital team organise for there to be a section of the new Labour Party website where the Labour Party rulebook and agreed Codes of Conduct are accessible to members?” Further, she noted that “The Chakrabarti Report also appears to have fallen off the website during its re-vamp. Can we please make sure it is available to read on the new website?”

 

John Stolliday responded that he had “no particular objection” to the Chakrabarti Report going on the website. Oldknow, however, then wrote:

 

John will reply substantively, but we should not include the confidential NEC reports on the labour party website. This will end up being a stick to beat us with and is something we have never done before.

 

On Murray noting that the Chakrabarti Report had been online recently and “it was a case of it being re-uploaded”, Oldknow responded again that “My strong view is that other reports (and this one) should not be on the website.”[175]

 

In January 2018, meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn personally requested that Labour’s social media accounts post on Twitter and Facebook reminding people to vote in Labour’s ongoing NEC elections before they closed. The potential “factional” element to the dispute that followed is that it was believed by many that low turnout favoured the Labour right in such elections, as many “Corbyn supporters” were newer members and less aware of internal politics like NEC elections.[176]

 

On 11 January 2018, having seen that this had been agreed, Oldknow emailed Labour social media manager Chloe Green to enquire “Where and whom has this come from?”, insisting that the emails sent by the Electoral Reform Services (ERS) were sufficient and a “much better use of communications”. She noted that “Iain [McNicol] has also said no to this.” Green replied:

 

We had the request from Jeremy himself, via Jack Bond. James Schneider has also given us the go-ahead.

 

I’m happy either way, but of course it’s not my call to make – how should we proceed?[177]

 

Oldknow forwarded this to Corbyn’s social media manager Jack Bond and LOTO spokesperson James Schneider, who confirmed he had signed it off “as fine from a comms POV”. Oldknow, however, insisted:

 

Ok. We have a comms plan with ERS – that is, they are sending out specific emails to those who haven’t voted yet rather than a scatter gun effect which will just generate more questions than it answers.

 

I would prefer to stick to this plan.

 

Bond then confirmed “this came from me”, and reiterated the request:

 

I am unsure why we wouldn’t want to promote elections on social media. JC has spent 2.5 years talking about us being a mass, open and democratic party. Having elections that are promoted on social media demonstrates this is the case. And of course, some people will see the posts and be motivated to vote.

 

On the various elections (internal and external) I’ve worked on, I’ve always thought GOTV was quite important and reminders in different forms are helpful.

 

In addition, ERS, in my experience are not reliable. Didn’t they miss an NEC candidate off the form? It would be great to also have ERS’ email plan with reminders as JC’s page would like to co-ordinate. But again, I know from trying to coordinate this at the start of this NEC election process that they do not give specifics.

 

Can this be reconsidered this please and could the Labour Party channels promote the NEC elections?

 

Oldknow remained adamant, however:

 

There is already a communications GOTV plan with our balloting organisation.  They send specific emails to those people who they know have not voted. In terms of having an actual effect, this is much more effective than a Facebook or Twitter post to everyone, including voters. So, we can all agree that GOTV is a good thing and we are an open, democratic party. Hooray!

 

It is wrong to say that ERS are unreliable. You are wrong in the accusation you make. They did NOT leave anyone off the ballot paper. If this has been joined up from the beginning then of course we could send the timetable of the reminders, but the first me or my team heard about it was an email this afternoon. I had no idea there was any desire or requirement for this to happen.

Following a call, Bond dropped the request and suggested that they meet to plan some “social media from the Labour Party” for the next NEC elections.[178]

 

This was an intervention from senior staff, Oldknow and Ian McNicol, to block a request from Jeremy Corbyn for Labour to post on social media about its own internal election.

 

This incident was, unfortunately, representative of Labour HQ’s general level of

cooperation with LOTO, and underlines how GSO and GLU remained independent of, and often hostile to, LOTO.

 

2.1.9. The 2017 general election

 

On 17 April 2017, Theresa May called a snap general election. It was a highly unexpected move, made largely due to the Conservatives’ significant lead in the polls, and Labour’s perceived weakness, trailing at a quarter of the popular vote.[179]

 

Many Labour activists responded to the announcement with either excitement, at the chance to win seats and return a Labour government, or concern at the prospect of facing the country when polls were not looking positive.

 

However, it appears that some staff in Labour’s Head Office, including GLU and GSO, saw the 2017 election as an opportunity to prove Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership untenable and prepare the ground for a successor more closely aligned with their views. Winning elections is a fundamental aim of the Labour Party. The fact that senior Labour HQ staff were not united with LOTO even on this fundamental issue – the very purpose of the Labour Party – underlines the lack of cooperation between Labour HQ and LOTO before 2018.

 

Senior Labour HQ staff had already been planning for a potential succession before the general election. In a discussion preceding parliamentary by-elections in February 2017, for example:

 

13/01/2017, 17:31 – Julie Lawrence: I may be jumping the gun here, and JC is a proud and selfish man with a team to match, but if we lose these elections we could have another leadership election. We should set up at some stage a discrete WG to go over rules, timetable scenarios and staff servicing the process. Just so we’re prepared. Like Operation Cake.

13/01/2017, 17:32 – Patrick Heneghan: Hope…

13/01/2017, 17:32 – Julie Lawrence: Yeah

13/01/2017, 17:32 – Iain McNicol: OK Julie can you pull together. Operation Cupcake

13/01/2017, 17:32 – Julie Lawrence: Yep

13/01/2017, 17:33 – Emilie Oldknow: Iain and I spoke to TW about this

13/01/2017, 17:33 – Julie Lawrence: 😢

13/01/2017, 17:33 – Patrick Heneghan: What does that mean

13/01/2017, 17:34 – Emilie Oldknow: It means Iain told TW to prepare for being interim leader187

 

On the day the snap election was called, senior staff in the “SMT Group” made abusive comments about LOTO staff:

187

18/04/2017, 10:38 – Tracey Allen: Karie cancelled meeting at 11.15 – they know nothing!

18/04/2017, 10:39 – Patrick Heneghan: I’ve spoken to her

18/04/2017, 10:39 – Patrick Heneghan: They called no 10

18/04/2017, 10:39 – Tracey Allen: Could her husband be terminally ill or something? 

Must be personal surely

18/04/2017, 10:39 – Tracey Allen: What did No10 say?

18/04/2017, 10:39 – Patrick Heneghan: Fuck u karie u silly cow 18/04/2017, 10:39 – Patrick Heneghan: 😢😢 18/04/2017, 10:40 – Tracey Allen: Jeremy who?

18/04/2017, 11:26 – Emilie Oldknow: I will be down later on today[180]

 

Already on that first day, Emilie Oldknow and Julie Lawrence were discussing a potential leadership election after the campaign was over:

 

18/04/2017, 12:29 – Julie Lawrence: What about leadership election afterwards if it happens?

18/04/2017, 12:30 – Emilie Oldknow: Said yes to that

18/04/2017, 12:30 – Julie Lawrence: Very good189

 

On 14 May 2017, mid-way general election campaign, Director of GLU John Stolliday saved a series of documents outlining procedures, codes of conduct and staff purdah rules for a “Labour Leadership Election 2017”, with parts in colour that apparently reflected amendments or proposals. It included a timeline under column “Quickest”, with the process beginning on 12 June 2017 and the result being announced on 19 August 2017.

 

On 27 May 2017, Stolliday saved an “Electoral College Rule Change” document, outlining proposals, with changes, to replace Labour’s “one member one vote” leadership election system with the “Electoral College” that existed before the “Collins Review” of 2013, where MPs’ votes counted for one third, members one third, and affiliated union members one third.

 

Under such an “Electoral College” system, neither of Jeremy Corbyn’s decisive victories in 2015 and 2016, with 59% and 62% of the vote respectively, would have led to him being elected leader of the Labour Party, as very few MPs or MEPs would have voted for him or someone of his politics. If a third leadership election had taken place after the 2017 general election, Corbyn was the only person from the party’s “left” who would be able to get on the ballot – as,m as the incumbent, he did not require

189

nominations from 20% of MPs and MEPs. He could only call a leadership election by resigning. MPs critical of Corbyn would thus have been able to choose the timing of the election, and whether to launch an immediate challenge or to wait till annual conference in September 2017 where they could try to pass the “Electoral College” rule change, which would have ensured that Corbyn or someone of his politics could not win even if they maintained the same level of overwhelming support among members and affiliate supporters.

 

During a general election, all work that is not essential for the election is put on pause, and staff are reassigned to different teams where appropriate.

 

It is unclear who authorised or instructed John Stolliday to work on these plans, instead of a Labour victory in the 2017 general election. This may have been approved by his manager, Emilie Oldknow, or by Iain McNicol.

 

One day into the campaign, staff appeared to be pleased about the removal of Jeremy Corbyn from initial campaign literature:

 

19/04/2017, 21:07 – Fiona Stanton: Is jc now off the flying start leaflet again

19/04/2017, 21:08 – Patrick Heneghan: Yes

19/04/2017, 21:08 – Tom Geldard: Yes

19/04/2017, 21:08 – Fiona Stanton: So sad

19/04/2017, 21:10 – Sarah Mulholland: There is a god

19/04/2017, 21:22 – Carol Linforth: The 😢of god[181]

 

On 22 April 2017 senior staff discussed the need to protect Tom Watson’s seat in West Bromwich East (which he won on 8 June 2017 with 58.0% of the vote and an increased majority):

 

22/04/2017, 22:44 – Patrick Heneghan: Ok. But we need to throw cash at Tom’s seat

22/04/2017, 22:44 – Patrick Heneghan: Even if just 50k for that

22/04/2017, 22:44 – Emilie Oldknow: We should do this

22/04/2017, 22:46 – Patrick Heneghan: We can’t let him lose for want of money

22/04/2017, 22:46 – Patrick Heneghan: We’re in meltdown

22/04/2017, 22:46 – Patrick Heneghan: 25 points down and they’ve not started on us 22/04/2017, 22:48 – Iain McNicol: Lets talk monday. Am off to bed. But obviously protect toms seat.191

 

Staff were also considering “go slow” tactics, making the election more difficult to win for Corbyn’s team and the Labour Party as a whole. On 21 April 2017, Labour staff

191

 

joked about “working hard or hardly working”,[182] for example, and on 1 May 2017, Labour HQ press staff, including Head of Press Neil Fleming, established a chat to “communicate through… so we arent on our phones all the time” – “And yes, tap tap tapping away will make us look v busy”.[183] Director of Policy and Research, Simon Jackson, had previously suggested to Anouska Gregorek, Head of Policy Development, that he would not vote for Labour in a general election when led by Jeremy Corbyn. They then discussed “taking redundancy” instead:

 

Anouska Gregorek 12:17: 

It’ll be fine maybe we can take redundancy and go travelling during the election Simon Jackson 12:17: 

if we’re all paid off we can pool cash & start a consultancy[184]

 

On 24 April 2017, senior staff discussed the need to prevent a left-wing staff member who was already based at Labour HQ, Head of Digital Ben Soffa, from seeing where digital campaign funds were being spent:

 

24/04/2017, 13:21 – Patrick Heneghan: Simon. We need to stop digital campaign budgets going to Ben soffa for approval

24/04/2017, 13:21 – Patrick Heneghan: He can’t see what we are doing with digital spend[185]

 

On 26 April 2017, staff discussed “the encroaching leadership election”,[186] and how they opposed engaging new members:

 

Megan Wikeley (Campaigns Officer – Materials and Direct Mail) 19:30:  how troty is ben nolan 

i feel he sees our increase in membership as a good thing which is always worrying Josh Graham 19:31:  he talks a good game

but he also wants to make all the new members more involved which i am anti[187]

 

Separately, senior staff discussed avoiding Jeremy Corbyn’s Chief of Staff in order to avoid working together:

 

26/04/2017, 09:11 – Tracey Allen: Karie near your desk looking for you Em – not sure if you are still avoiding

26/04/2017, 09:12 – Tracey Allen: Shes asked me to find you – I pretended to text.

26/04/2017, 09:17 – Emilie Oldknow: Hahaha

26/04/2017, 09:17 – Emilie Oldknow: Have spoken to her

26/04/2017, 09:17 – Emilie Oldknow: Staffing matter

26/04/2017, 09:20 – Tracey Allen: They need more staff to help Jeremy lose[188]

 

Others joked about Jeremy Corbyn’s office being sacked as soon as the election was over, and expressed concern about having to share an office with them for a few weeks:

 

26/04/2017, 23:01 – Tracey Allen: Staff team Corbyn ….ready to join the dole queue 26/04/2017, 23:03 – John Stolliday: I could probably only name about a third of them

26/04/2017, 23:08 – Patrick Heneghan: Guilty. All of them.

27/04/2017, 00:32 – Neil Fleming: In our office from next week 😢199

 

Soon after, Jeremy Corbyn appointed Steve Howell to work on communications and strategy in the 2017 election campaign. Existing staff at Labour HQ were immediately derisive of Howell, describing him as an “amateur” and suggesting it was a good thing he remained on the second floor of the office, where a plumbing problem had caused a smell of sewage to spread:

 

28/04/2017, 11:18 – Patrick Heneghan: ‘Steve’ now annoying half the staff

28/04/2017, 11:20 – Iain McNicol: Progress

28/04/2017, 11:22 – Greg Cook: Showing your true colours, Iain?

28/04/2017, 11:23 – Neil Fleming: God this is going to be a long 6 weeks…

28/04/2017, 11:26 – Neil Fleming: Im hating this already

28/04/2017, 11:37 – Carol Linforth: Only half … who are the other half ?

28/04/2017, 11:37 – Patrick Heneghan: Everyone currently in the district room

28/04/2017, 11:38 – Greg Cook: Seems a civilised guy

28/04/2017, 11:38 – Greg Cook: Knows what he thinks

28/04/2017, 11:47 – Simon Jackson Mobile: Amateur hour

28/04/2017, 12:24 – Carol Linforth: I am told ‘steve’ has moved upstairs already because of the smell …….

28/04/2017, 12:37 – Simon Jackson Mobile: Can we make the smell worse?

199

28/04/2017, 12:38 – Simon Jackson Mobile: Urgent action points: don’t empty 2nd floor bins; buy Simon nose pegs.[189]

 

One senior staff member shared an article in the “LP Forward Planning” WhatsApp group with other senior staff suggesting a severe election loss could “save” the Labour Party:

 

29/04/2017, 10:09 – Simon Jackson Mobile: https://capx.co/onlyaballotboxmassacrecansavelabour/201

 

On 2 May 2017, Jeremy Corbyn’s office requested contact details for Labour candidates who had been selected to fight the election. Despite this being relatively routine information, with candidates often needing to be contacted as and when issues arose in their constituencies, Labour HQ staff chose to be obstructive:

 

02/05/2017, 17:08 – Sarah Mulholland: Anyone know who Robert_Donnelly@labour.org.uk is?

02/05/2017, 17:09 – Tracey Allen: Isn’t he campaigns team LOTO? 02/05/2017, 17:10 – Fiona Stantonl: He called me today asking for a list of candidates for jc

02/05/2017, 17:10 – Fiona Stanton: Referred him to stollers

02/05/2017, 17:12 – John Stolliday: I told him candidates not yet endorsed by NEC. When they are the candidate liaison team will be able to send any communications to them

02/05/2017, 17:12 – John Stolliday: But we’re not handing over private information for hundreds of candidates when we have a system and structure

02/05/2017, 17:15 – Emilie Oldknow: Yes. Basically he keeps asking for the same information from various people because governance have said no

02/05/2017, 17:15 – Emilie Oldknow: We’ve told LOTO this is not acceptable

02/05/2017, 17:17 – Anna Hutchinson: He told Fatima in my office that John Stolliday had told him to ask Regional offices for the list. We haven’t sent it.

02/05/2017, 17:17 – Patrick Heneghan: He is also asking regions to send him briefing notes on all seats

02/05/2017, 17:24 – Sarah Mulholland: Yes he has asked me for all mps and candidates personal contact details. Of course saying no, just wanted to check who he was.

02/05/2017, 17:34 – Emilie Oldknow: That’s a complete lie ……

03/05/2017, 09:18 – Sarah Mulholland: That daft boy who’s after details for all the MPs/candidates just called me. He’s got the details from the Scottish office but no

201

where else. I reiterated what I’d said in email that I’ll happily send stuff out for him. He is very confused and at one point said ‘but I’m from the eighth floor campaigns team’ 😢[190]

 

Many staff were forced to remain on the second floor of Labour HQ despite the smell caused by sewage problems in the building. This notably included the Leader’s Office communications team, who worked next to the Labour press team, as well as other key LOTO staff. Meanwhile on the eighth floor, Leader’s Office staff were confined to a small kitchen area. Senior staff in the General Secretary’s office described the problem with “trots” in both areas, and the eighth floor kitchen as “the squat”:

 

05/05/2017, 15:35 – Patrick Heneghan: Katy d kicking off a bit 05/05/2017, 15:37 – Julie Lawrence: Should someone talk to her?

05/05/2017, 15:39 – Tracey Allen: I have this morning extensively and Iain has this afternoon.  They seem to understand we need to give it another day (supposedly smell being fixed tomorrow) Otherwise we need plan B.  Katy’s problem is not just smell -it is the trots.  She is struggling to cope.  They sound most unpleasant.  At least all ours are corralled in ‘The Squat’ area.

05/05/2017, 15:40 – Julie Lawrence: Assumed it was trots and results.

05/05/2017, 15:41 – Julie Lawrence: 33 days

05/05/2017, 15:43 – Patrick Heneghan: I just talked to them all

05/05/2017, 16:09 – Emilie Oldknow: Is it the smell? When I went down there yesterday it was ok

05/05/2017, 16:09 – Iain McNicol: The smell is not too bad.

05/05/2017, 16:09 – Iain McNicol: Not great

05/05/2017, 16:10 – Iain McNicol: It is the people

05/05/2017, 16:10 – Emilie Oldknow: Ok. They are going in to units this weekend

05/05/2017, 16:10 – Emilie Oldknow: Yes. That is a major problem

05/05/2017, 16:10 – Emilie Oldknow: Which needs to be sorted out

 

Senior staff expected poor results in the election, which was blamed on the Leader’s Office, for whom “Death by fire” was deemed “too kind”:

 

07/05/2017, 19:55 – Sarah Mulholland: From pals knocking in Staylbridge and Wirral

South this weekend. Death by fire is too kind for LOTO 😢203

 

203

 

In this general election, Labour HQ assigned resources in a factional manner, and hid this from LOTO. In May 2017 Labour HQ assigned staff to a “secret key seats team”, permanently based in a separate building, Ergon House – “all secret to LOTO”.[191]

 

Catherine Bramwell 12:51: 

there is a secret key seats team arriving in ergon house permanently… 

Stephanie Driver 12:55: 

ooo interesting on the key seats team, who will be part of it?!

Catherine Bramwell 12:55:  lots of secret meetings going on here… 

I think it’s all secret to loto  I’ll let you know

but think it’s a brand new team 

moving in on Sunday

Stephanie Driver 12:59: 

Brill. I endorse this plan. And will keep said plan v much to myself. 

 

Both Sam Matthews, Head of Disputes, and Sophie Goodyear, Head of Safeguarding and Complaints, worked on this project,[192] and other key Disputes staff such as Ben Westerman and Louise Withers-Green also appear to have been involved in or aware of it.[193]

 

After the election, Matthews asked to be back-paid at a higher pay rate, reflecting – although his “new role did not have a formal title” – his increased responsibilities from 12 May to 8 June 2017, including “direct responsibility for budget management, procurement of services, dealing directly with a range of suppliers and managing more than twice as many staff as normal – with a range of very different skills from the disputes team (such as designers, copy writers, videographers etc).”[194]

 

Sophie Goodyear suggested it “might be worth mentioning the level of budget management”, but Matthews responded:

 

I don’t want to put the scale of budget in writing.

 

He did note, though, that the party could “afford this”, and “I left 100k in that budget”.[195]

 

This project had the budget code GEL001, misnamed “Generic Campaign Materials”. Matthews appears to have led on printing materials.On 18 May, Matthews had a budget of £75,000; on 29 May it was increased to £175,000.[196] On 30 May, transfer of another £61,300 to GEL001 was agreed – “I think that will give Sam what he needs.”[197] By 29 May, Matthews had billed £89,000 for printing.[198] In total, the final GE2017 budget reported £135,014 spent under this item, including £42,975 specifically attributed to “Sam Matthews Key Seats Printing”, from an assigned budget of

£225,842 (an underspend of £90,000, similar to the figure Matthews mentioned).[199]

 

This secret project appears to have been to funnell additional resources into seats of key figures on the right of the party. Some of this was on the basis of defensive assumptions about how the campaign was progressing, contrary to LOTO’s push for more offensive targeting, which meant funnelling resources into seats that would actually – thanks to the “Corbyn surge” – return overwhelming Labour majorities, such as those of Tom Watson and Yvette Cooper. Other key figures from the right of the party in completely safe seats, such as Angela Eagle, Heidi Alexander, Chuka Umuna, Rachel Reeves, also received additional funding, as well as Facebook advertising.[200]

 

This “Ergon House Project” was a secret reassignment of resources for largely factional purposes, based in part on defensive assumptions that failed to understand the momentum that was gathering behind the Labour campaign led by Jeremy Corbyn.[201]

 

Back at Labour HQ, achievements were being talked down and senior staff appeared to relish the prospect of Labour experiencing a bad result:

 

11/05/2017, 15:55 – Sarah Mulholland: The kitchen are whooping and cheering Jeremy’s words to the nation.

11/05/2017, 15:57 – Julie Lawrence: Shut the front door 😢

11/05/2017, 16:08 – Tracey Allen: Aaah they should make the most of it. 28 days and they’ll be ashen and in tears 😢😢[202]

 

Staff derided speeches by Jeremy Corbyn:

 

12/05/2017, 12:11 – Claire-Frances Fuller: BREAKING: War is bad and killing babies is wrong.

12/05/2017, 12:20 – Tracey Allen: And as I can’t even make sure my tie is done up properly on the most important speech of the election you should put your lives in my hands

 

Staff remarked Corbyn that Corbyn was “a Green”:

 

14/05/2017, 13:07 – Tracey Allen: Simon J/Sarah. Have we got standard direct mail letters, partic for green voters a ….

14/05/2017, 14:00 – Greg Cook: The Leader of the Labour Party is a Green.[203]

 

Others suggested the Party’s sums would not add up because of what they perceived as LOTO incompetence, while also questioning Diane Abbott’s intelligence. Abbott is Britain’s first black female MP, and many feel that constant attempts to belittle her intelligence over the years, with levels of scrutiny and mockery that are not applied to prominent white men in politics, has reflected deeply ingrained racial prejudice in Britain against black people. This was also despite Labour being the only major party to produce a fully-costed manifesto:

 

15/05/2017, 22:29 – Greg Cook: They look like they are busy on calculators…£49.5 billion, £49.6 billion.  Oh no, we missed the cost of abolishing driver-only trains…£80.5 billion…

15/05/2017, 22:31 – Tracey Allen: Diana Abbott school of calculus. They cannot cope with this level of scrutiny and responsibility. Welcome to real politics![204]

 

Staff running two key departments in Labour HQ, the Press Office and GLU, seemed to relish open policy disagreements among Shadow Cabinet members played out on national television. Staff described Nia Griffith as a “hero” for “stabbing” Jeremy Corbyn and Emily Thornberry and said Emily Thornberry would “pay” in “the reckoning” when Jeremy Corbyn was no longer Leader:

 

19/05/2017, 23:01 – Julie Lawrence: Nia slapping down ET on Trident. Labour’s defence policy in chaos.

19/05/2017, 23:01 – John Stolliday: I bet they try to sack Nia

19/05/2017, 23:02 – Patrick Heneghan: Ha ha

19/05/2017, 23:03 – Patrick Heneghan: Well she set out the party position

19/05/2017, 23:43 – Neil Fleming: Just seen Nia’s iv. What a bloody hero. She doesnt bullshit and shes just just stabbed corbyn and thornberry.

19/05/2017, 23:45 – Patrick Heneghan: Yes she did

19/05/2017, 23:46 – Neil Fleming: Thornberry is awful. She should pay in the reckonning.

 

By 20 May 2017, the Labour campaign was energised and Jeremy Corbyn’s rallies had become bigger and bolder. In Birkenhead, a rally filled a football stadium, with activists and supporters joining from across the region. A video of the rally gained over 600,000 views on Twitter. Senior staff at Labour HQ said it was “making me feel ill” and that people in region must have “gone a bit loopy”:

 

20/05/2017, 19:59 – Julie Lawrence:

https://twitter.com/DavidPrescott/status/866001515382702080

 

20/05/2017, 20:08 – Tracey Allen: OMG   I think this is what is making me feel ill!!! 20/05/2017, 20:13 – Neil Fleming: Has everyone in the north west gone a bit loopy Anna??

 

On 26 May 2017, Jeremy Corbyn made a speech in response to the recent terror attacks in London and Manchester. A staff member joked with the Director of Events that she had booked the speech in the room where Ed Miliband had announced his resignation:

 

26/05/2017, 11:02 – John Stolliday: Is that the room where Ed Miliband resigned?

26/05/2017, 11:16 – Carol Linforth: No comment

26/05/2017, 11:25 – Tracey Allen: Ha ha

 

The same day, Francis Grove-White, Labour International Policy Officer, and Jo Greening, International Affairs advisor, discussed how a YouGov poll showing Labour gaining support made them feel “sick”; expressed hope it was “a peak” and there would now be “a clear polling decline”; expressed fear that that might not happen; said that the “crazy people who now make up our membership never want us to win in anycase”, and “are communists and green supporters”; that they cannot wait to see Andrew Neil “rip [Corbyn] to pieces tonight”; and that Corbyn’s removal after the election “has to be clean and brutal”:[205]

 

Francis Grove-White 09:06: 

How are we actually in the same party as these vile, opportunistic morons? Jo Greening 09:06: 

I am furious 

FURIOUS 

I have never been more ashamed to work for this party  Francis Grove-White 09:06: 

Ditto

Jo Greening 09:06: 

and I have been very ashamed in the past! 

they are vile  you are right  have you seen the line on soldiers? 

Francis Grove-White 09:06: 

Yep

Francis Grove-White 09:10: 

The speech is astonishing on so many levels. It’s so woefully written, intellectually incoherent, factually inaccurate and devoid of any attempt to be constructive or analytical that it is in effect a Donald Trump speech. It’s easy to forget that only yesterday morning they were briefing that they would be easing back into the

campaign slowly and not doing anything political I despise these people more than ever Jo Greening 09:10:  excellent analysis 

me too 

I hope I see not a single one of them today  Francis Grove-White 09:11: 

I actually felt quite sick when I saw that YouGov poll last night Jo Greening 09:12: 

no its great 

Francis Grove-White 09:12: 

Not that I think we will end up there or probably anywhere near Jo Greening 09:12: 

and I shall tell you why 

it is a peak 

and the polling was done after the Manchester attack  so with a bit of luck this speech will show a clear polling decline  and we shall all be able to point to how disgusting they truly are  (now obviously we know it was never real – but that isnt the point in politics!)  Francis Grove-White 09:13: 

Yeah I’m sure that’s right Francis Grove-White 09:16: 

My fears are that: a) the speech won’t go down as badly as it deserves to thanks to the large groundswell of ill-informed opposition to all western interventions. And b) they will use that poll to claim they were on course to win and then Manachester happened. And whether or not JC goes, lots of the membership will buy that argument

Like after the referendum when they distorted the polling and claimed wee had

overtaken the Tories before the “coup” happpened  Jo Greening 09:17:  if this speech gets cut through – as I think it may – it will harden normal people against us  definitely 

in the face of a terror attack normal people do not blame foreign intervention  they blame immigration 

whats more – all they will hear is we dont want to respond strongly  we want peace with ISIS 

it all plays into a bigger picture of how they see corbyn  so I have a feeling this will cut through  you are right on the second point 

it has to be up to the MPs though to demonstrate how toxic he is on the doorstep throughout 

but that this speech particulalry was toxic 

and Manchester had happened when that poll was in the field  on the supporters 

I personally think we are going to do very badly in deed  and I think it will shock a lot of them how badly we do  including JC 

so everyone has to be ready when he is in shock  it has to be clean and brutal 

and not involve the party at all in my opinion 

those crazy people who now make up our membership never want us to win in anycase  they are communists  and green supporters 

even if Manchester hadnt happened and we got smashed 

they would have never changed their minds  Francis Grove-White 09:23:  Yeah that’s true

 

I agree with all of that. And I think you’re right – most people will see this speech for the nonsencial and ill-judged turd that it really is   Jo Greening 09:25: 

the crazies wont – they will love it  Francis Grove-White 09:25: 

Yeah of course – but the wider electorate and floating voters

I CANNOT WAIT to see Andrew Neil rip him to pieces over it tonight [206]

 

On 31 May 2017, the election looked increasingly tight, with new polls suggesting a hung parliament, or even a Labour government. Senior staff appeared to prefer those polls that still predicted a Conservative victory:

 

31/05/2017, 16:47 – Patrick Heneghan: Westminster voting intention:

 

CON: 43% (+1)

LAB: 33% (-1)

LDEM: 11% (+2)

UKIP: 4% (-)

GRN: 3% (-1)

 

(via TNS_UK / 25 – 30 May)

31/05/2017, 16:49 – Neil Fleming: Always loved TNS. Gold Standard.

 

(Forward)

01/06/2017, 21:01 – Patrick Heneghan: Take a look at @jon_trickett’s Tweet:

https://twitter.com/jon_trickett/status/870343944596574209?s=08 01/06/2017, 21:04 – Tracey Allen: What!!!!

01/06/2017, 21:06 – Julie Lawrence: Ich bin ein Trot!

01/06/2017, 21:06 – Iain McNicol: I am a Corbyn

01/06/2017, 21:07 – Iain McNicol: That doesn’t make sense

01/06/2017, 21:07 – Tracey Allen: I am a hamburger

01/06/2017, 21:07 – Iain McNicol: I am a trot

01/06/2017, 21:07 – Iain McNicol: That makes complete sense

01/06/2017, 21:08 – Iain McNicol: Ich bin prime minister

01/06/2017, 21:09 – Julie Lawrence: 😢

01/06/2017, 21:11 – Tracey Allen: I am getting seriously weirded out by all this P M talk. I don’t think I can cope with the idea. 6 more bloody days is too long220

 

At least one poll put Labour on 40% or higher:

 

02/06/2017, 11:46 Patrick Heneghan: Take a look at @britainelects’s Tweet:

https://twitter.com/britainelects/status/870592083060543488?s=08

02/06/2017, 11:48 – Neil Fleming: Wowser

02/06/2017, 12:11 – Julie Lawrence: Nooo, really?221

 

Days before polling day, one company, Survation, cut the Conservative lead to just one point, while another, ORB, had the Tories nine points ahead. The polls received different reactions from staff:

 

03/06/2017, 20:50 – Patrick Heneghan: Westminster voting intention:

 

CON: 40% (-6)

LAB: 39% (+5)

LDEM: 8% (-)

UKIP: 5% (+2)

 

(via @Survation / 03 Jun)

03/06/2017, 20:50 – Neil Fleming: 😢

03/06/2017, 20:54 – Neil Fleming: Wtf is going on. Polling industry may as well fold up.

03/06/2017, 20:54 – Tracey Allen: It is doing my head in.

03/06/2017, 21:02 – Julie Lawrence: 😢

03/06/2017, 21:04 – Tracey Allen: Long 5 days to go

03/06/2017, 21:12 – Patrick Heneghan: Westminster voting intention:

 

CON: 45% (+1)

LAB: 36% (-2)

LDEM: 8% (+1)

UKIP: 4% (-1)

 

(via ORB / 31 May – 01 Jun)

 

03/06/2017, 21:13 – Neil Fleming: Good old ORB222

 

Senior staff expressed frustration at the enthusiasm and support Jeremy Corbyn had engendered in activists and called LOTO staff member Kat Fletcher a “Trot”:

 

04/06/2017, 20:29 – Fiona Stanton: He refuses to go without seeing them. The crowds appointed leader a nutjob. Desire from team jc to avoid sombre speech followed by selfies

                                             

221

222

04/06/2017, 20:31 Fiona Stanton: So crowd was negotiated into 2 rooms inside hotel

04/06/2017, 20:31 – Fiona Stanton: For sombre speech v2 and v3. Jc does big rahrah

04/06/2017, 20:32 – Fiona Stanton: Hes still on speech 3

04/06/2017, 20:32 – Iain McNicol: Photos please

04/06/2017, 20:34 – Fiona Stanton: <Media omitted>

04/06/2017, 20:45 – Fiona Stanton: Most ridiculous visit ever. I do not know how kat copes with them

04/06/2017, 20:56 – Greg Cook: Presumably because she’s a Trot like the rest of them.

04/06/2017, 20:58 – Tracey Allen: Quite!

 

Just days before polling day, Head of Political Strategy Greg Cook expressed hope that the “sheer hypocrisy” of a speech by Corbyn would make other views of his “a legitimate topic” for attack, referring to Corbyn as “a lying little toerag”:

 

04/06/2017, 21:01 – Greg Cook: Hopefully the sheer hypocrisy of that speech will make his views on STK and abolishing the army a legitimate topic.

04/06/2017, 21:20 – Patrick Heneghan: Take a look at @jon_trickett’s Tweet: https://twitter.com/jon_trickett/status/871433303794089985?s=08

 

04/06/2017, 21:42 – Greg Cook: Absolutely right.  It shows in detail what a lying little toerag he is.223

 

When it was announced that Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott had fallen ill towards the end of the election campaign,  staff including Iain McNicol himself mocked her:

 

07/06/2017, 08:59 – Tracey Allen: You mean “I’ll health” surely

07/06/2017, 09:07 – Patrick Heneghan: Surely GSO need to organise a get well soon card

07/06/2017, 09:07 – Iain McNicol: And some flowers.

                                             

223

 

07/06/2017, 09:08 Julie Lawrence: Surely LOTO do that on behalf of the party

07/06/2017, 09:08 Tracey Allen: #prayfordiane

07/06/2017, 09:12 – Sarah Mulholland: But but but but but Lyn Brown is as daft as a brush.

07/06/2017, 09:13 – Neil Fleming: And nasty with it

07/06/2017, 09:13 – Neil Fleming: #BringBackDiane224

 

A negative poll, even a day before polling day, was apparently celebrated by Head of Press and Broadcasting Neil Fleming:

 

07/06/2017, 18:01 – Patrick Heneghan: Westminster voting intention:

 

CON: 46% (+1)

LAB: 34% (-)

LDEM: 7% (-1)

UKIP: 5% (-)

GRN: 2% (-1)

 

(via @ICMResearch / 06 – 07 Jun)

 

07/06/2017, 18:02 – Neil Fleming: Boom

 

When discussing the  well-attended final rally of the campaign, in the Union Chapel in Islington,  staff joked about potential violence against Labour members and supporters and the use of “water cannons” and “truncheons” to “knock some trots”:

 

07/06/2017, 22:02 – Carol Linforth: We got v close to the police stopping the event. 

There 4 police swots here.

07/06/2017, 22:03 – Carol Linforth: <Media omitted> 07/06/2017, 22:03 – Patrick Heneghan: Omg 07/06/2017, 22:03 – Julie Lawrence: Blimey.

07/06/2017, 22:03 – John Stolliday: Truncheons out lads, let’s knock some trots.

07/06/2017, 22:04 – Patrick Heneghan: Water cannons please225

 

Finally, it reached polling day. Rather than focusing on getting out the vote, senior staff were joking about the next day’s drinks, away from Corbyn’s staff:

 

08/06/2017, 12:19 – Patrick Heneghan: We’ve got old star upstairs booked for tomorrow from 3ish

08/06/2017, 12:21 – Neil Fleming: Loto/Number 10 invited? 😢

                                             

224

225

08/06/2017, 12:21 Patrick Heneghan: No.

08/06/2017, 12:22 Neil Fleming: Hahahaha226

 

Senior staff reacted with incredulousness, rather than support, to Labour activists campaigning on a train they were taking:

 

08/06/2017, 20:34 – Tracey Allen: Oh God.  U can’t even get away from them on the train and read ur paper in peace. The Corbynistas are ‘knocking up’ on my train.

Whole new strategy.

08/06/2017, 20:35 – Sarah Mulholland: <Media omitted>

08/06/2017, 20:36 – Tracey Allen: Apparently it’s the meeja wot lost it for Jezza227

 

The exit poll came in at 22:00 on 8 June 2017, and predicted a hung parliament. The exit poll is the best indicator of what the election result will be, and this was clearly a positive result, far better than what many had anticipated, winning many more Labour MPs, costing the Conservative Party their majority, and at first, it seemed, opening up the possibility of another election or a Labour coalition government.

 

Emotions in Labour HQ, containing both LOTO and Labour HQ staff, were mixed that evening:

 

08/06/2017, 22:24 – Julie Lawrence: Patrick if anyone in war room needs some safe space time they can come to gso

08/06/2017, 22:25 – Tracey Allen: More like in need of counseling!

08/06/2017, 22:41 – Emilie Oldknow: What’s the atmosphere like there?

08/06/2017, 22:41 – Simon Mills: Depends which side of the building!

08/06/2017, 22:41 – Patrick Heneghan: Awful

08/06/2017, 22:41 – Patrick Heneghan: Help

08/06/2017, 22:42 – Simon Mills: Split between euphoria and shock 08/06/2017, 22:42 – Julie Lawrence: We are stunned and reeling.

08/06/2017, 22:45 – Tracey Allen: They are cheering and we are silent and grey faced.  Opposite to what I had been working towards for the last couple of years!!  😢

08/06/2017, 22:46 – Emilie Oldknow: We have to be upbeat

08/06/2017, 22:46 – Emilie Oldknow: And not show it

08/06/2017, 22:47 – Emilie Oldknow: And at least we have loads of money now…

08/06/2017, 22:47 – Julie Lawrence: Not if we go into coalition and lose short money

08/06/2017, 22:47 – Julie Lawrence: “Steve” walking the floor

08/06/2017, 22:48 – Emilie Oldknow: Oh no

08/06/2017, 22:48 – Patrick Heneghan: Everyone needs to smile

08/06/2017, 22:48 – Patrick Heneghan: I’m going into room of death

                                             

226

227

08/06/2017, 22:48 Emilie Oldknow: Everyone needs to be very up beat

08/06/2017, 22:48 Julie Lawrence: Its hard but yes

08/06/2017, 22:52 – Iain McNicol: I’m not in smiling and mixing and doing the 2nd floor.

08/06/2017, 22:53 – Iain McNicol: Everyone else needs to do the same. 08/06/2017, 22:53 – Iain McNicol: It is going to be a long night.[207]

 

Results continued to come in throughout the night, and with Labour were making gains across the country, staff commented that “one highlight” of the night would be Rhea Wolfson, a Jewish member of the NEC and Corbyn supporter, winning her seat so she would be “off the NEC”, and derided the Shadow Foreign Secretary:

 

09/06/2017, 00:07 – Sarah Mulholland: Scottish friends at the count say Rhea Wolfson doing well on samples…

09/06/2017, 00:07 – Emilie Oldknow: Brilliant

09/06/2017, 00:08 – Emilie Oldknow: Gets her off the NEC

09/06/2017, 00:09 – John Stolliday: Eddie Izzard on

09/06/2017, 00:09 – Julie Lawrence: One highlight

09/06/2017, 00:09 – John Stolliday: If Ellie Reeves wins as well

09/06/2017, 00:11 – Fiona Stanton: Emily thornberry is sooo horrendou229

 

The day after the election, senior staff continued to express their dismay:

 

09/06/2017, 10:44 – Tracey Allen: We will have to suck this up.  The people have spoken.  Bastards

09/06/2017, 12:59 – Sarah Mulholland: What were our loses again – Winnick, Meale,

Flello and Engel. Was there another I’ve missed? 😢

09/06/2017, 13:00 – Greg Cook: No, the other losses were Copeland and

Blenkinsopp’s seat

09/06/2017, 13:01 – Sarah Mulholland: 😢

09/06/2017, 13:01 – Sarah Mulholland: Thanks Greg

09/06/2017, 13:16 – Tracey Allen: We have a letter ready to go to them on Monday Iain

09/06/2017, 13:30 – Sarah Mulholland: Kensington and Chelsea? I’ve just woken up and confused by Twitter. Did we gain it???

09/06/2017, 13:30 – Patrick Heneghan: Count again at6pm

09/06/2017, 13:31 – Sarah Mulholland: Omg. That Emma Coad is a grade 1 tool.230

 

229

230

 

On 12 June 2017, four days after the election and in response to a message of congratulations on the campaign, Director of GLU Stolliday responded “very interesting result…”[208]

 

On the same day, Anna Phillips, Shadow Cabinet Visits Assistant, messaged Ellie Miller, Campaign and Shadow Cabinet Visits Manager, “remember [Joshua Carrington] is a trot” – “he seemed happy with the result this morn”. Noting that “josh won £80 on the GE result”, which meant “he was right and we were wrong”.

 

Ellie Miller 12:15: 

should have bet on trump and brexit too. bet against what you want and at least make money out of it!

Anna Phillips 12:16: 

yeah, at least you’d get something good from the disappointment[209]

 

At the next PLP meeting, many MPs expressed their support for Jeremy Corbyn following a positive election campaign. Oldknow described MPs including Yvette Cooper as “grovelling” and “embarrassing”:

 

13/06/2017, 18:54 – Emilie Oldknow: Loads of unity

13/06/2017, 18:55 – Emilie Oldknow: It’s really embarrassing seeing all these people grovel

13/06/2017, 18:56 – Emilie Oldknow: Saying how he was brilliant

13/06/2017, 18:56 – Julie Lawrence: Oh god

13/06/2017, 18:59 – Julie Lawrence: Iain, understand Andy Kerr is calling you after 7. He’s on hols but he texted to say fine about the review. So will send email out tomorrow morning.

13/06/2017, 18:59 – Emilie Oldknow: That sounds fine then

13/06/2017, 18:59 – Julie Lawrence: 😢

13/06/2017, 19:00 – Julie Lawrence: Also Ann B in tomorrow for a property meeting so no doubt will be round GLU/GSO for catch up

13/06/2017, 19:01 – Tracey Allen: Grovelling.  This is what we have been reduced to 😢 13/06/2017, 19:02 – Emilie Oldknow: Angela Smith talked about how amazing the regional office was and they wouldn’t have done it without them 13/06/2017, 19:05 – Patrick Heneghan: Did Mike A speak? 13/06/2017, 19:08 – Emilie Oldknow: No

13/06/2017, 19:08 – Emilie Oldknow: Yvette. Grovelling[210]

 

On 15 June 2017, senior staff were still sharing of their negative feelings about the election result:

 

15/06/2017, 22:08 – John Stolliday: A week since that exit poll… 15/06/2017, 22:08 – Julie Lawrence: Post traumatic stress[211]

 

 

2.1.10. Factionalism and the Governance and Legal Unit

 

The Governance and Legal Unit’s work included making decisions on the processes and internal rules and regulations of the party, in line, in theory, with Labour’s Rulebook. However, it was clearly understood that this was to be done flexibly and on a factional basis, at the expense of the left of the Party. This further demonstrates that LOTO did not have authority over GLU, which routinely acted against LOTO’s interests and desires.

 

On 14 December 2016, for example, GLU Investigations Officer Ben Westerman commented to GLU Head of Disputes Sam Matthews, concerning Emilie Oldknow:

 

Ben Westerman 13:06: 

it’s just eo going for people that she doesn’t like/her friends don’t like and expecting us to be able to fabricate a case because politics  which is ludicrous [212]

 

This appears to be a reference to Emilie Oldknow expecting GLU to “fabricate a case” against “people that she doesn’t like/her friends don’t like”.

 

On 3 November 2014, meanwhile, John Stolliday, later Director of GLU, discussed how the party was using procedures to “stop the Scotland trots” winning a parliamentary selection, whilst “pretend[ing] we’re doing this in a more open way”.[213] One of the heads of the department at the time was Mike Creighton.

 

The Christine Shawcroft case from 2015 is also illustrative. In May 2015 GLU had suspended Shawcroft, a Labour NEC member and left-winger, accusing her of supporting a rival to the Labour Party. This pertained to a long-standing conflict in Tower Hamlets, where the Labour right had ousted Lutfur Rahman, the UK’s first executive Muslim mayor. There were varying allegations of racism and corruption, for which Labour had suspended Rahman, and Rahman had then stood against Labour’s candidate, John Biggs. Some on the left, such as Shawcroft, former leader of the Tower Hamlets Labour group, sympathised with Rahman. In a court judgement in spring 2015, Richard Mawrey QC found Rahman guilty of electoral fraud, but also that:

 

[Rahman’s] treatment by the NEC was, by any standards, utterly shameful and wholly unworthy of the party which, rightly, prides itself on having passed the Human Rights Act.[214]

 

Shawcroft had testified at the trial, and at a rally following the judgement she criticised it:

 

The lack of a sound evidence base, the factual inaccuracies, the dangerous claims made about British Muslims and the powers given to the state to intervene in elections set a disturbing precedent.[215]

 

She also expressed her support for Rahman’s legal case:

 

Unfortunately, this is not the first time that the full weight of the British

Establishment has come crashing down on Tower Hamlets. George Lansbury and Sylvia Pankhurst would all have found this very depressingly familiar. We will fight back and we will carry on fighting.[216]

 

For this, Shawcroft was suspended on the grounds of both backing a rival candidate to

Labour, and engaging in conduct “grossly detrimental” to the party, although fellow NEC member Ken Livingstone, who had also sent a message of support to Rahman’s case, argued:

 

All she said was that this was a highly political judgment. It is quite bizarre that she has been suspended by the NEC and I haven’t. She said what a lot of other people think – that there has been a witch-hunt against Britain’s first directly elected Muslim mayor.[217]

 

A conversation on 23 June 2015 between Jo Green and Stolliday suggests that Iain McNicol and Mike Creighton, Director of Risk and Property, were searching for evidence to justify their charges, but were unsuccessful:

 

John Stolliday 10:17:

We’re readmitting Christine Shawcroft Jo Green 10:17: what??? who has pushed for that>?

John Stolliday 10:18:

They couldn’t get any evidence that she campaigned against the party. I think Iain & Mike are pre-empting the disputes panel which will rule that there’s no evidence against her

(Disputes Panel = Ann Black & union NEC stooges) Jo Green 10:19:

fair enough grim

this organisation needs bleaching with dettol John Stolliday 10:24:

Technically Dettol isn’t a bleach, it’s a disinfectant, but yeah. Point well made. Jo Green 10:25:

haha

you know what i mean[218]

 

Similarly, a conversation on 20 July 2015 between Teddy Ryan, Regional Organiser and later a Regional Director, and Katherine Buckingham from GLU, may be seen to imply that both the Shawcroft case and a 2014 suspension in Falkirk, both involving prominent left-wingers, had been factionally motivated:

 

teddy_ryan@labour.org.uk 11:54:

I don’t like living in a world where I’m not allowed to go round threatening people as

I see fit  ….

Katherine Buckingham 12:07:

well at least your job isn’t about to be purged by an aged trot Teddy Ryan 12:07:

no, but I wish it was. Id get a right few quit out of that quid

Katherine Buckingham 12:10: that’s my hope. we all get taken out an shot. and given a wodge of cash Teddy Ryan 12:10:

that would be the dream

I mean, it would cost the party so muych money that we would cease to exist but we’re on that treadmill anyway Katherine Buckingham 12:15:

yeah well they’ll have to try and work out which of us are blairite. Compliance would be first against the wall, after falkirk and christine shawcroft etc.[219]

 

Mike Creighton, the most senior staff member in GLU in 2015 to early 2017, had first worked for the party since 1992, and in 2007 was a party organiser when he moved into Labour HQ. At his retirement party in March 2017, he remarked that he had been promoted to stop him “from bed-blocking younger, more talented people coming through the ranks”, and described how “Working in Head Office I seemed to accumulate jobs by accident until I perfected my current Job title – Senior Odd Job Person.”[220]

 

On 22 June 2016, staff members Sarah Mulholland and Stephen Donnelly discussed organising NEC Youth Representative elections on a one-year cycle to ensure that a left-wing candidate would not win – which Mike Creighton was “happy with” – and making sure they had time to find a “decent person” to stand:[221]

 

Sarah Mulholland 13:31:  basically I think elections in Feb should be for one year terms ah it is tricky

we don’t want to end up having the youth omov elections at the same time as the NEC CLP rep elections, we need to make sure they are on the alternative election cycle – so the same time as the NCC and CAC

otherwise the youth rep will end up on the GRA alliance slate with Ken Livingston and pals and win all the time Stephen Donnelly 13:34: 

Ah I see- understand completely. Much better cycle to be in. Also an easy argumetn to make as it means that both Labour Students *and* Young Labour can have OMOV elections in 2017, as opposed to Labour Students having them in 2017 and YL having to wait until 2018 which could be hard to justify

Presumably the whole thing could basically just take effect from when it’s passed at Conference 2016 in Sept? 

Sarah Mulholland 13:36: 

yup

Stephen Donnelly 13:36: 

question is tho- do we then elect a 1 year NEC Youth Rep? and restand them? Sarah Mulholland 13:36: 

slightly tricky as it would mean a youth conference and elections in Jan/Feb, followed by the review being passed by conference in September 2016, then elections summer

2017 but should be ok yes, provided they wanted to re-run

nothing to stop them apart from it being miserable Stephen Donnelly 13:37: 

what would the rules be though if they were under 23 the first time buit not the second? would affect our choice potentially

Might mean (would have to check her age) that we could give to Helena (shit I know) but then she’d be ineligible a year later therefore giving us the time to find a

properly decent person which we’re struggling to do atm  Sarah Mulholland 13:39: 

I thought they had a good young’un?

Stephen Donnelly 13:39: 

hmmmmm

this is one of the things we’re chatting 

Looked like Jasmin Beckett but tbh this decision has been all over the place

Don’t worry, I’ll think over- need to chat to Mike about the implications for elections Sarah Mulholland 13:43: 

Mike is happy with the rationale behind coupling them with the odd-year cycle. But I think it would be hard to justify waving the age requirement.[222]

 

In January 2017, Momentum staff got in touch with regional director Fiona Stanton regarding their plans to mobilise Labour members to campaign in the upcoming byelections. Stanton discussed her response, concerning electoral regulations, with Creighton, who approved it but added:

 

Obvs you could use the alternative ‘eff off and never come back’ but that may not strike the level of inclusiveness you were striving for.[223]

 

Stanton responded: “Hilarious. Yes. I had to try very very hard.”[224]

 

It is normal – and highly beneficial to the party – for Labour Party campaign groups to try to mobilise Labour members to go door-knocking for Labour. “Progress”, for example, organises “three seat challenges”, where members travel across multiple constituencies campaigning on a single day.[225] Momentum had mobilised large numbers of members previously, for example for the Oldham by-election in late 2015, and they would later become a key feature of Labour campaigning from the 2017 general election onwards. The above comments, in this context, indicate the view these staff took towards such activities from Momentum.

 

In April 2017, GSO staff discussed how Simon Danczuk could be allowed to re-stand in the upcoming election:

 

18/04/2017, 12:13 – Tracey Allen: I am expecting a call from Simon Danczuk in person to confirm he is restanding.  Once I have it from ‘horses mouth’ will be handled by Governance.

 

Danczuk, a Labour MP from the right of the party who was not a Jeremy Corbyn supporter, had been suspended on 31 December 2015, for sending “sexually explicit text messages” to “a teenager… after she asked him for a job”. The Sexual Offences Act of 2003 defines the age of consent as 18 when a person is “in a position of trust” over someone else, and the woman involved was 17 at the time.[226]

 

On 18 April 2017, Emilie Oldknow said regarding Danczuk that they would “unsuspend him and let him stand”:

 

18/04/2017, 12:53 – Tracey Allen: Danczuk confirmed he wants to stand at LP candidate.  Stollers now picking this up

18/04/2017, 12:54 – Emilie Oldknow: Yes. I think we just unsuspend him and let him stand

18/04/2017, 12:54 – Emilie Oldknow: Yes. No need to take the pads on 18/04/2017, 12:55 – Patrick Heneghan: Yes. Agree[227]

 

On 12 November 2016, staff discussed allegations against Keith Vaz and whether they would warrant a suspension. Although Creighton noted it is a “political decision rather than anything based on consistency with other decisions”, in this case Iain McNicol chose to “hold line,” rather than consult LOTO. This suggests LOTO were less likely to be consulted when cases concerned NEC members who were more aligned with the views of GSO.

 

12/11/2016, 09:44 – Claire-Frances Fuller: Does that fact there is a police investigation change our line on Vaz?

12/11/2016, 09:47 – Emilie Oldknow: Not in my view

12/11/2016, 09:49 – Mike Creighton: If they are investigating POSSIBLE drug offences we can probably hold where we are, but if the tone hardens at all we are in suspension territory. Obvs a political decision rather than anything based on consistency with other decisions.

12/11/2016, 09:49 – Emilie Oldknow: We cannot suspend Keith

12/11/2016, 09:50 – Emilie Oldknow: Unless we know for sure there is something specific and he is charged

12/11/2016, 09:50 – Emilie Oldknow: That’s my view

12/11/2016, 09:51 – Claire-Frances Fuller: Ok, I’ve emailed re this and copied in Lorna who is on duty. I’ll tell her to keep saying it is a matter for Keith. 12/11/2016, 09:54 – Mike Creighton: As I said it’s a political decision but will will be in an area where others have been suspended so there will need to be lines why not. If we say not until charged then that is a major change with impact on other cases.

12/11/2016, 09:55 – Mike Creighton: Matter for KV works for now.

12/11/2016, 09:55 – Mike Creighton: Let’s hope it holds.

12/11/2016, 09:55 – Claire-Frances Fuller: Agree will be difficult to sustain given other cases (Simon D for example). But will keep in touch on this issue.

12/11/2016, 09:58 – Emilie Oldknow: I’ll let you tell him

12/11/2016, 10:09 – Iain McNicol: Let’s hold line just now. If it starts to spin out then we can catch up.[228]

 

As apparently was the custom in the Labour Party, staff in GLU were often recruited internally from existing party staff, despite a lack of relevant qualifications or experience.

 

John Stolliday, for example, was a Media Monitoring Officer from 2005 to 2007, and Senior Media Monitoring Officer from 2007 to October 2015, when he became “Head of the Constitutional Unit” in GLU. The “Media Monitoring Unit” is the Party’s internal transcription service, which monitors relevant media and produces summary reports on what is being reported. Stolliday had a BA in History and Politics, and his LinkedIn declares no legal experience or qualifications.[229]

 

On 22 July 2015, Stolliday told Claire-Frances Lennon (then also a Press Officer, and later Head of Internal Governance under Stolliday) that he was leaving press for GLU, describing his new role as “political fixing”, selections and “legal stuff”, and noting specifically that they needed “to completely overhaul selections to stop the useless trots getting selected”.[230]

 

Claire-Frances Lennon 11:13: 

yay!!  I love that you’ll be a fixer 🙂 down with voting!! That’s what I say!

(chuckle)

John Stolliday 11:13:  absolutely. Letting members have a say is the worst thing that happened to the

Labour Party

Claire-Frances Lennon 11:14: 

AGREED![231]

 

The role was subsequently advertised and, as Stolliday reported on 29 July, GLUstaff were “actively helping me with my interview”. He noted that the requirements for legal knowledge, including of the Equalities Act, made him “gulp”, however:[232]

 

Claire-Frances Lennon 10:19: 

saw it advertised yesterday, very exciting and good job title!

John Stolliday 10:20: 

yeah but this in the JD made me gulp: “·      Detailed understanding and knowledge of PPERA (the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act), the Equalities Act, RPA (the Representation of the People Act) and other relevant legislation. ”  Claire-Frances Lennon 10:20:  eeek….

i would be surprised if there is anyone else out there who would have a clue about that…so pretty sure if you can get help swatting up you will walk it 🙂[233]

 

Before his interview in September 2015, Stolliday commented that the appointment was a “Bit of an Emilie stitch up”.[234]

 

Discussing how to bond with Stolliday in December 2016, staff noted that he “doesnt like trots”.[235]

 

There are many further examples of GLU under Stolliday using Labour’s internal rules and procedures in a factional manner – something which new Labour members who supported Corbyn regularly complained about.

 

In July 2016, for example, the “pro-Corbyn” left decisively won Brighton CLP’s annual general meeting (AGM). Local Momentum activists organised to all gather at a certain place, then go to the AGM itself. In July 2016, Stolliday discussed overturning Brighton CLP’s AGM with Buckingham:

 

overturn AGM, deal with individuals. Shows what we’re up against – a bunch of SWP & Trots marching straight from a rally to invade a CLP meeting and stuff handfuls of ballot papers in boxes even when they;re not members of the party

 

Buckingham said: “I say act now and worry about [rules and legal issues] later, so long as we don’t do something that’ll end up fucknig everything else up”.[236]

 

It was, of course, not possible for people who are not members of the Labour Party to vote in local AGMs, let alone any members of the SWP or Trotskyist organisations. Brighton had its AGM overturned and the old executive restored. The local party was then split into three separate CLPs, but when their AGMs were eventually held in spring 2017, the “left” again won.

 

Wallasey CLP was also suspended in July 2016. A year later, on 7 July 2017 Oldknow emailed Sam Matthews, the Head of Disputes, and Stolliday asking for an update on the situation. She listed allegations of “people selling socialist worker” then participating in a CLP meeting (something that individuals could, of course, simply be auto-excluded for), and “momentum flyers” being distributed outside (the relevance of which was not specified but seems to have been apparent to all involved). Oldknow noted that the local MP Angela Eagle felt that, if the CLP’s suspension was lifted in the coming months, this would “not give her time to organise etc.”[237]

 

Matthews responded with an update, and noted:

 

I have every sympathy for the fact that Angela is still in a difficult situation as they are properly organised in her constituency – my worry is that based on track record, no matter how much time we give Angela (in practice Imran) to “organise”, so little work will go into it that we’ll end up getting asked to extend it further and further. At the moment, Imran wants the suspension to remain in place until at least November, but I would be really worried about turning up to Disputes in October and having to report that Wallasey was still suspended because they haven’t held an AGM yet. I would also be worried about them having the ammunition of going to conference without a date being set for the AGM at the very least – I think that risks feeding an unhelpful narrative.[238]

 

This was an open discussion between senior GLU and GSO staff and Labour Party Executive Directors about ensuring that Angela Eagle and her allies were able to win at the AGM and other votes at the CLP, and about how they had been “giv[ing] Angela (in practice Imran)” “time” to “organise” to win those votes against the local Labour left.[239]

 

It is telling that no-one appears to have had any hesitancy about openly discussing the factional role they were playing with other Labour HQ staff.

 

Sophie Goodyear had worked in GLU for some time, and was Head of Complaints and Safeguarding from the end of 2016 onwards. Her colleague Ben Jameson, Safeguarding Manager from late 2016 onwards, later recalled, regarding a meeting on 28 April 2017:

 

I had been told that I would be working as Jeremy’s Police Liaison, a role about which I had clearly highlighted my concerns to Holly and Sophie. Sophie had always displayed an extremely oppositional to the LOTO team and clearly had a factional position that was in conflict with them.  She invited me in to a meeting room and asked me about the role I had been asked to taken, I explained how uncomfortable I felt about it and my worries about the risks of the role.  She ignored what I had said and then “We’ll know if you tell them what we do, you’ll be out.  They’ll be gone soon.  I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t tell you this.” I believe Sophie was referring to her work on complaints and the work of the disputes team and she was making an explicit threat that I would lose my job.[240]

 

Dan Hogan, meanwhile, had been active in “Labour Students”,[241] worked as a Campaign Organiser, and then in 2013 joined Labour’s Policy team, before becoming a Disputes officer in late 2016. His factional behaviour, including recruiting people to “Labour First” in staff time and saying that a staff member who cheered Corbyn’s speech should be “shot”, has been detailed above.

 

Sam Matthews had a BA in “Politics with Philosophy”, and had previously worked as a

Labour Party campaign organiser in Slough, in Labour HQ’s print team, and as a “social media and [direct mail]” regional “organiser and communications officer” for the “Yvette for Labour” leadership campaign in 2015. In January 2016 he was looking at applying for jobs in the party, including “Campaigns Officer – Campaign Materials and Direct Mail”, or a “data analyst” role, though expressing concerns that he was “mediocre” at the work involved and didn’t “have the skills on paper”.[242] In February 2016 he arranged to meet Mike Creighton, who he already knew, for a coffee,[243] and then applied for the new role of “Compliance Officer – Investigations”.[244]

 

Interviews were held in March 2016, although Matthews noted that he was only available to start in three months time, after the EU referendum on 23 June, as he was about to start a three-month contract as a ”Field Organiser” for “Britain Stronger IN For Europe”.[245]

 

Another applicant for the role was Max Lansman, who scored higher than Matthews on the pre-interview scoring matrix.[246]

 

Lansman was a qualified barrister with a Masters in “Legal and Political Theory”, with a wide range of compliance, legal and political experience, including:

 

  • working in a law firm and an “internationally renowned legal research centre”
  • running a Shelter legal aid drop-in service and supporting solicitors working on claims brought by asylum seekers
  • working as the “Compliance and Financial Officer” for the 2015 Jeremy Corbyn leadership campaign
  • working, at the time, as a legal support officer for Camden Council.[247]

 

Max Lansman is Jewish, and is currently a barrister at Field Court Chambers, with “specialisms including employment, family, housing, landlord and tenant, and civil law”.[248]

 

Lansman came from the “left” of the party, and is a son of Jon Lansman, founder of Momentum.

 

On 21 March 2016, Creighton messaged Oldknow:

 

Going to offer the job to Sam Matthews – formerly organiser in Slough and then print coordinator at HQ.[249]

 

Matthews accepted, to start on 27 June 2016.[250]

 

His first major task was to organise a second round of “Trot hunting”, for the 2016 leadership election.

 

 

2.1.11. Conclusions

 

While factions have always existed in the Labour Party, a qualitative assessment of the views and activities of Labour’s HQ’s staff from the period 2015-2018 shows that numerous senior staff, including staff responsible for the work of GLU, openly opposed the party leader, and that this impacted significantly upon the party’s operations.

 

A paramount example of this was during the 2017 general election, when many staff, including senior staff, made clear that they did not want Labour to win the general election, while other staff were “working to rule” and hiding information from the Leader’s Office. Notably, this also included a parallel campaign resourced without LOTO’s knowledge to advance the interests of Labour MPs aligned with the Labour right. Winning elections is a fundamental goal of the Labour Party, and Labour HQ’s lack of cooperation on this fundamental goal underlines how independent and separate the party apparatus was from LOTO.

 

Many GLU staff expressed such views about the leadership and were involved in this factional work, including during the 2017 general election. Key GLU staff also appeared to see their jobs within GLU as factional roles, and openly discussed “fixing” and “overturning” democratic processes for this purpose, in direct opposition to LOTO’s interests. Any claim that these same staff felt obliged to follow instructions from LOTO, including to follow unwritten instructions from LOTO compelling them not to act on complaints of antisemitism, is contradicted by all of the documentary evidence seen by the Party and does not appear to have been possible.

 

As we will see, the factional approach of many staff in GLU also had a major impact on the way that Labour’s disciplinary procedures operated.

 

2.2. The 2016 leadership election

 

2.2. The 2016 Leadership Election                                                                                              119

2.2.1. Summary                                                                                                                    119

2.2.2. 2016: The “Coup”                                                                                                       121

2.2.3.i. Corbyn on the ballot?123
2.2.3.ii Disenfranchising new members126
2.2.3. The “Validation” process128
2.2.4. Staff review138
2.2.5. NEC review143
2.2.6. Results147
2.2.6. “Validation”, antisemitism and impact151
2.2.7. Conclusions154

 

             

2.2.1. Summary

 

In the summer of 2016, GSO-GLU played an integral role in supporting the “coup” against Jeremy Corbyn, attempting at first to ensure that he would not be on the ballot, and then that as few of his supporters as possible would have a vote in the election.

 

Diane Abbott remarked that during this period “there was only one intention: to break [Corbyn] as a man”, and this came from the very top of the organisation.[251] One senior staff member wrote to his colleague that, after the NEC meeting which decided to allow Corbyn on the ballot paper, General Secretary Iain McNicol said “this is the first time the unions have actually chosen to f*** the party rather than support it”. When a former Labour donor mounted a legal challenge against the NEC’s decision to allow Corbyn on the ballot, the Director of GLU, who was responsible for overseeing the Party’s legal defence, said he was “praying we lose in court”.

 

GLU then initiated and undertook an intensive, large-scale operation to trawl social media and purge the party of some of Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters. This operation was falsely described as investigating members for abusive conduct, including antisemitism, but only a small fraction related to antisemitism. Many Corbyn supporters were suspended or excluded from the party on flimsy grounds, while action was not taken against many members on the right of the party reported to GLU for the same conduct. Much of the language for which members were suspended was the same as the language Labour staff used themselves when talking about supporters of Jeremy Corbyn.

 

While staff boasted privately about creating a “new stasi system”, the scale of the operation was initially hidden from the NEC, with one staff member admitting “we don’t want the NEC to have much of an idea how many there are to review (we’re worried they’ll get scared)”. The NEC was provided with misleading information about the work being undertaken, and never provided with all of the search terms GLU were using, which would have revealed how the “purge” was being “rigged”. Individuals associated with the Labour right whose abusive behaviour was well-documented and reported to the Party were protected from action.

 

GLU’s actions in this period underline that this department was not subordinate to LOTO or following “unwritten guidelines” from the Leaders’ Office to not take action on antisemitism cases. As noted in Section 3.2, the energy applied to this factional work also contrasts strongly with the failure to create a functioning disciplinary process for the Party in the eighteen months following.

 

GLU’s factional misuse of the disciplinary processes created an enormous backlog of cases and other work that GLU then had to do. It also went a long way to creating a culture of defensiveness and “denialism” among parts of the Labour membership, due to well-founded suspicions that many suspensions were unfair and factionally motivated.

 

Adam Langleben, JLM Campaigns Officer in this period, who resigned from the party in spring 2019 over concerns about antisemitism, has spoke about the impact of the way the disciplinary processes were used during the leadership elections:

 

The blame I think, lies with the moderates who ran the Labour Party in the run-up to Jeremy Corbyn’s election. In that, by creating an atmosphere where anyone who had tweeted that they once voted Green was expelled or suspended or their membership was revoked from the Labour Party, it enabled a conspiracy theory to develop around the idea that the Labour establishment was trying to stop people from taking part in Labour Party democracy. And I think that was the sort of root as to how this sort of antisemitic conspiratorial thinking started in the party.[252]

 

2.2.2. 2016: The “Coup”

 

Already before Corbyn was elected, The Telegraph had reported that “senior figures” said there would be a coup against him at some point.[253] In spring 2016, reports in The Telegraph had suggested that Labour MPs were planning to launch an attempt to depose Corbyn after the May 2016 council and mayoral elections.

 

The May 2016 electoral results were positive, however. Instead, it was a defeat for Remain in the EU referendum that would be cited as the rationale for deposing Corbyn.

 

From 24 June 2016, immediately after the EU referendum, members of the shadow cabinet began resigning in an effort to force Jeremy Corbyn to quit as leader of the Labour Party. Over the coming days, the majority of the shadow cabinet resigned, and nearly 80% of Labour MPs – 178 of them – signed a declaration of no-confidence in Jeremy Corbyn.

 

This declaration had no status in the Labour Party’s rules. The rulebook outlined a procedure by which MPs and MEPs had the ability to challenge the leadership: a challenger had to put themselves forward, and if they had at least 20% of Labour MPs or MEPs nominating them (then 51), a contest would ensue.

 

Jeremy Corbyn did not resign, pointing to Labour Party rules and the 59% of the vote he had achieved just 10 months earlier. Instead, in early July 2016 Angela Eagle and Owen Smith challenged Jeremy Corbyn and acquired nominations.

 

Concurrently to this, supporters of Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour Party had mobilised in defence of his leadership, with reportedly 10,000 people rallying to “Keep Corbyn” on 28 June in London, and forty rallies taking place across the country that week. Huge numbers of people began to join the Labour Party or turn up to meetings for the first time, and both the Labour left and the Labour right, represented by, among others, “Momentum” and the newly launched and secretive organisation “Saving Labour” respectively, encouraged people to join Labour as full members to take part in the coming leadership contest.

 

In just over a week, it was reported that 130,000 people had joined Labour, the vast majority of them believed to be supporters of Jeremy Corbyn, many of whom had been “registered supporters” in the previous leadership election. Senior Labour HQ staff were, daily, sharing the reasons people gave for joining, and creating statistical break-downs, that showed by a ratio of at least two to one, the majority were doing so to support Corbyn.[254]

 

It was in this context that a particularly controversial meeting of Labour’s NEC took place, on 12 July 2016.

 

 

 

2.2.3.i. Corbyn on the ballot?

“Just praying we lose in court to Michael foster” – John Stolliday, 15 July 2016

 

The Labour Party rulebook said that challengers to the position of leader of the

Labour Party required nominations from 20% of the PLP or ELP – at the time, 51 MPs/MEPs. GLU and GSO asserted that this would apply to all participants in a leadership contest, including an incumbent leader.

 

This interpretation of the rules would have effectively excluded Jeremy Corbyn altogether from the contest, as Corbyn was very unlikely to be able to acquire that many nominations from among the PLP. The sitting leader of the Labour Party, who had acquired 59% of the vote in a leadership election just ten months earlier, would therefore have been barred from running and removed from the leadership by MPs without any election.

 

Creighton, Director of Risk and Property had asserted this interpretation of the rules already in September 2015, and at the time drafted a rule change to make it explicit (an implicit acknowledgement of the fact that the existing rule was, at the very least, unclear).[255] In April 2016, however, LOTO requested that Labour seek an opinion from Mark Henderson of Doughty Street Chambers on the issue.[256] Henderson’s advice was that, in the absence of a “vacancy” in the leadership, the requirement for nominations only applied to challengers – not the incumbent leader.

 

Subsequently, however, as Creighton later wrote, “given the media speculation in the run up to, and immediately following, the local and other elections this year, authoritative advice was sought from James Goudie QC”. This appears to be a reference to “speculation” about a coup against Jeremy Corbyn after the May 2016 elections, for which GLU sought further legal advice.[257]

 

On 26 June 2016, Creighton provided McNicol and Oldknow, Executive Director for Governance, Membership and Party Services with his draft paper on this situation. It claimed that advice had now been received from James Goudie QC, and this “authoritative advice from leading counsel is clear and unambiguous” that all candidates would need 20% nominations, including an incumbent.[258]

 

On 27 June 2016, the day after Creighton’s summary, James Goudie QC wrote this legal opinion, advising that the 20% threshold applied to all candidates.[259] In presentation of legal opinions to the NEC, GLU-GSO’s paper said that this advice was sought “given the media speculation in the run up to, and immediately following, the European referendum this year” – rather than the May 2016 elections as Creigton initially noted.[260] GLU and GSO maintained that Goudie’s opinion was authoritative and correct.

 

In a letter on 12 July 2016, for example, McNicol said:

 

“The Rule Book is indeed clear. The leader’s name appears on the ballot if he has the same degree of minimum support as other candidates requires. The Party has advice to that effect from the Party’s solicitors and from leading Counsel. The NEC will also have before it the advice from Mark Henderson.”[261]

 

At the meeting on 12 July, all three legal opinions were provided, but an overview from GLU-GSO stated that Goudie’s view was “authoritative” and “clear and unambiguous” – not, therefore, an ambiguity in the rules open to interpretation by the NEC – and that all candidates needed to pass the 20% threshold.[262] The NEC Chair and McNicol presented this as the “Official Legal Advice of the Labour Party”, and brought James Goudie to speak to it.[263]

 

At this point, the NEC still had a “right-wing” majority, and votes would come down to a few potential swing voters.

 

Ultimately, in an extremely narrow vote, on 12 July 2016 the NEC decided that the correct interpretation of the rules did not require Corbyn to seek nominations – Jeremy Corbyn was on the ballot. Anouska Gregorek, Head of Policy Development, told Director of Policy and Research Simon Jackson that after the NEC meeting Iain McNicol said “this is the first time the unions have actually chosen to f*** the party rather than support it”.[264] Gregorek added “I’m so sad and broken I am finding it hard to do anything”.[265]

 

This decision was subsequently challenged in High Court, in a lawsuit against the

Labour Party brought by former Labour Party donor Michael Foster. On 15 July 2016, Stolliday, Head of the Party’s Constitutional Unit who later became Director of GLU said he was “Just praying we lose in court to Michael foster”:

 

John Stolliday 10:40:  we’re giving ourselves a fighting chance by instructing the immigration lawyer LOTO found for their opinion (that he is on the ballot paper automatically) as our representative. Watching him going up against Gavin Millar QC will be worth the price of admission alone. 

Simon Jackson 10:42:  Giving LOTO what they want

nice[266]

 

Later in July 2016, Stolliday was reportedly happy that “Foster is winning:”

 

Anna Wright (Press Officer) 11:10: 

Word for Stollers that our case is getting destroyed  As long as Stollers us using ‘our’ to mean the LP Dan Simpson 11:11:  as in, Foster is winning?

Anna Wright 11:11: 

yes[267]

 

However, Judge Foskett ruled that – contrary to the argument put forward by GLUGSO, and in line with Henderson’s legal advice – the “natural impression” of the Labour Party rules was that without a leadership vacancy, an incumbent did not need nominations, as they were not a “challenger” for the leadership.[268]

 

For this court case, Judge Foskett also took the unusual step of allowing Corbyn to have a role in the proceedings with his own legal representation, separate from the party’s. The High Court did this in acknowledgement that Corbyn could not trust the party apparatus led by Ian McNicol to represent his interests fairly.292 Given Stolliday said internally that he was “praying we lose in court to Michael foster”, this decision would appear to have been correct.[269]

 

 

2.2.3.ii Disenfranchising new members

“You do realise that if we lose this case today we’re basically fucked?” – Katherine

Buckingham, Head of Disputes

 

On 3 July 2016 the NEC had also taken controversial decisions on the status of new members. Firstly, it was decided that, as proposed by GLU-GSO, a six month “cut-off” period would be introduced for members to be able to vote.[270] This was despite the fact that in the previous contest in 2015, no such freeze date had applied. Even though there had been encouragement  from both left and right to join the party and receive a vote –  with the majority clearly joining to support Corbyn – the NEC now decided that anyone who joined after or on 3 January 2016 would not have a vote in the leadership election.

 

Secondly, the “registered supporter” category, first introduced in 2015, would be changed.  The £3 fee from 2015 would now be increased to £25 and they would only be able to sign-up in a 48 hour window from 18 to 20 July 2016. These decisions were taken by narrow majorities after the “left” presence was reduced, due to Corbyn leaving to address the waiting media and explain he was “on the ballot”.

 

At the time, these were widely viewed as factional moves to deny Corbyn supporters a vote in the leadership contest. As The Guardian noted at the time, “Both sides believed the NEC’s decision to exclude new members from voting would disadvantage Corbyn”.[271] With the sympathy of the party’s left, five new Labour members took out a joint suit against the party, and on 8 August 2016, the High Court ruled in their favour, saying that the Labour Party had breached its contract with the new members, and would have to give them a vote.[272]

 

In advance of the ruling, Head of Disputes Buckingham commented to a colleague “you do realise that if we lose this case today we’re basically fucked?”[273] Director of Policy and Research Simon Jackson felt similarly:

 

Simon Jackson 11:55: 

100k people added to the members section all of them voting for JC

he’s going to get more than 60% I think  win in every section

DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM

Emily Richards 11:56: 

what did he get last time – 236k or somehting?

Anouska Gregorek 11:56:  You’ve totally depressed me now Simon Jackson 11:56:  Something like that

this is why i felt like jumping off the building yesterday

Anouska Gregorek 11:57: 

Ok well them we just need to go scorcehd earth

*scorched

Simon Jackson 11:58:  yes, Owen needs to just smash him; rather than trying to be a different, better version of him[274]

 

The Labour NEC procedures committee, however, vowed to appeal the ruling. Ultimately, the party won in the court of appeal by reportedly introducing a new argument that the NEC could effectively ignore, if it so chose, all of the rules laid out for a leadership election. In response, Corbyn’s campaign team argued that “Serious questions must be raised over why and how the NEC procedures committee brought this appeal. In doing so, it effectively risked new members’ money on an attempt to disenfranchise them.”[275]

 

The NEC’s disenfranchisement did not deter the new joiners, however. Instead, on 1820 July 2016, in 48 hours 183,541 people paid £25 to become “registered supporters”, many of them people who had recently joined the party but been disenfranchised.[276]

2.2.3. The “Validation” process

“I’ll work on an experimental new stasi system”

“James Schneider has [been flagged] but unfortunately it’s a bit benign”

“fuck Momentum”

 

It was in this context that the Governance and Legal Unit led on a highly controversial operation to “vet” members and supporters by examining their social media feeds – a second round of 2015’s “Trot hunt”, officially called “Validation”.

 

At the time, the Nationbuilder software that Labour used to hold its member and supporter data had agreements with Facebook and Twitter that enabled it to “match” profiles, primarily through people’s email addresses. At the end of June 2016, Richard Shakespeare, Labour’s lead developer, quickly produced a web app that would scrape Twitter and Facebook for tweets, retweets, shares and comments that matched various search criteria, and then match them to profiles of members and supporters, with a basic interface for staff to review the evidence and matches produced.[277]

 

Though formally under Buckingham (who continued to work part-time),[278] and despite having started in his role just days earlier, on 27 June 2016, Sam Matthews, newly appointed Compliance Officer was tasked with “co-ordinating this on a day-to-day basis”.[279] He noted on 1 July that “the goal is… [to] investigate and refer as many as possible within the time scale we’ve got”.[280] The scale of the operation was deliberately hidden from the NEC, however – “we don’t want the NEC to have much of an idea how many there are to review (we’re worried they’ll get scared)”.[281] On 17 July Matthews explained that GLU needed “a bit of NEC cover” to issue suspensions, and that they would implement the suspensions later in the leadership election so as “not to let them know we’re on to them”:

 

Teddy Ryan (Regional Organiser) 15:52: 

On the suspensions, are you guys going to hang fire on sending them out so as to not let them know we’re on to them?

Sam Matthews 15:52: 

yes

nothing is going to go out any time soon[282]

 

Matthews and Shakespeare discussed the need for secrecy, limiting what information people involved could see, and using people who could be “trusted”, with 10 people being recruited to work on this from Labour Students (two of whom were also noted as coming from “Britain Stronger In Europe”; there appears to have been some overlap between the two organisations).[283]

 

The key staff involved in this process openly opposed Jeremy Corbyn, and this process of “vetting” was designed to target the party’s left.

 

Shakespeare, who designed the process, was particularly explicit in his aims. On 27 June 2016, for example, he emailed someone with a link to “savinglabour.com” – the campaign to recruit new members to defeat Corbyn and the left – saying “Word is he’s going to resign tomorrow but he’s stubborn so might not. Either way I think we can force him out by Wednesday.”[284] On 29 June, meanwhile, he messaged with Danny Adilypour, Campaigns Manager Contact Creator, Targeting & Analysis Team (and later political advisor to Tom Watson), about “helping” “Saving Labour”, saying that “Tim” – presumably Tim Waters, Head of Contact Creator, Targeting and Analysis  – had “said yes” to this:[285]

 

Richard Shakespeare 10:31: 

hey do you know who set up savelabour?

Danny Adilypour 10:32: 

sort of

Richard Shakespeare 11:15: 

tim said yes to helping

Danny Adilypour 11:15: 

I thought he would

Richard Shakespeare 11:15: 

going to go along to somehting this eve Danny Adilypour 11:15:  great

Richard Shakespeare 11:20: 

179358 new [members] since a year ago[286]

 

They continued discussing their disappointment that key affiliated unions were standing by Jeremy Corbyn:

 

Richard Shakespeare 15:43:  gmb and unite to make statements for corbyn Danny Adilypour 15:53:  yeah they aren’t budging Richard Shakespeare 15:54:  so that’s the nec vote lost Danny Adilypour 15:54: 

People have been trying to persuade them for last 2 days but they won’t move yep …

Only chance now is for him to realise after a week or two of even more chaos that he needs to resign[287]

 

On 8 July, Shakespeare decided to resign from his job. On 11 July he messaged

Adilypour to say he was sorry to feel like a “deserter”, but felt Corbyn would be “making everything absolutely shit for ages” and couldn’t see a way through that. He promised to “help however i can in the fight ahead”, noting he had “been signing up mates/family for a few weeks”.[288] Again, the factional agenda of the work they were undertaking was clearly understood by both parties. (He subsequently discussed helping with “this new activity”, too, which “Tim [would] speak to [him] later” about”.)[289] In context, this reads like a reference to work in support of “Saving Labour”.

 

One main means this “vetting” targeted the left was through the list of search terms used – “banned” words and phrases – prepared by staff including John Stolliday and Adilypour, and loaded into Shakespeare’s system on 1 July.[290]

 

As well as more general search terms, this included a list of 57 (later 68)[291] Labour MPs and their Twitter handles.[292] Content would be flagged if the MP or their Twitter handle appeared alongside any of 16 abusive or rude words, ranging from “traitor” and “scum” to “bellend”, “twat” and “shit”.[293]  Rather than a general list of prominent MPs or MPs who had been particular targets of abuse, this was principally a list of MPs associated with the Labour right and/or the then move against Corbyn, such as the resignations from the shadow cabinet. It included:

 

  • No MPs from the party’s left.
  • No MPs who supported the 2016 Jeremy Corbyn campaign.
  • Only one Asian MP, and no black MPs.
  • Only three MPs in the shadow cabinet (one MP, from the right of the party, who did not resign; one MP who had resigned, but would return a month later; and deputy leader Tom Watson, who was a key supporter of Owen Smith).
  • No other members of the Labour Shadow Cabinet, including the leader of the party Jeremy Corbyn.

 

This was despite the fact that:

 

  • There were high levels of online abuse directed at Jeremy Corbyn – who in the 2017 general election received more abuse on Twitter than any other politician.[294]
  • There were disproportionate levels of abuse received by BAME, particularly black, MPs.
  • There was a long history of abuse directed at Labour’s first black female MP, Diane Abbott, who in the first half of 2017 would receive 7,000 abusive messages on Twitter, almost half of all the abuse towards all women MPs recorded on Twitter in this period.[295]

 

Any genuine attempt to combat abuse in the party would have included Corbyn, Abbott and leading figures from the left, as well as all BAME MPs, and not just MPs associated with the right. As well as being demonstrably factional, the highly selective nature of this work fell short of the Party’s duty of care towards its elected representatives, especially those who were more likely to be the victims of abuse and bullying online.

 

This selective list of MPs was hidden from Labour’s NEC. Matthews later noted that

“the terms ‘traitor’ ‘scab’ and ‘scum’ were deliberately included in an NEC report”, but “none of the others were“ – “we put it through the procedures committee to make them actually commit to agreeing those ones were unacceptable”.[296][297]

 

On 12 August 2016, however, Jim Kennedy from the NEC Procedures Committee officially governing this process, requested “a full list of flagged phrases being used to determine reference back to the NEC membership/supporter decision panel/s.”321 On 15 August Matthews had the “banned phrases list” exported – totalling 1,959 different searches – and Buckingham then sent it with a draft note to Creighton and Matthews, asking if it was OK.[298] The list of flagged phrases she then sent to the NEC ninety minutes later, however, had been cut down to 294 searches, excluding the list of MPs. Buckingham mentioned that “something may also be flagged to us if it appears in the same tweet as the name of an MP”, failing to mention that this pertained only to certain MPs staff had selected.[299]

 

The “vetting” process was clearly understood by the key people involved to be specifically targeted at new supporters, understood to be predominantly Corbyn supporters, and at the left. Subsequently, it was also expanded to all members, while still targeting the left.[300]

 

Staff involved repeatedly expressed their concern about the increasing numbers of people joining the party.[301] On 1 July, for example, Matthews noted that there were “like… 60,000” new members:

 

Richard Shakespeare 15:06: 

jesus are you privy to the join reasons?

Sam Matthews 15:07:  no :/ but it worries me [302]

 

In a conversation on 30 June 2016, meanwhile, Richard Shakespeare expressed how “genuinely happy and excited” he was to work on this, adding “fuck Momentum”:

 

Richard Shakespeare 14:56:  the arrogance and secrecy of some of these new members and what they’re doing needs unearthing Sam Matthews 14:57: 

It’s really appreciated  Richard Shakespeare 14:57: 

(fuck momentum)

i didn’t say that

Sam Matthews 14:57:  haha of course mate[303] The same day, Shakespeare even suggested to Tim Waters that Labour reject membership applications from anyone who came to the join page via Momentum:

 

we should know all people who come through to our join page from the momentum site, as they’ll have a referrer value set

with them endorsing threats/calling our mps zionists, is there a case to not have these people be allowed to join?[304]

 

We have not found any evidence that Momentum had “endorsed threats” or called Labour MPs “zionists”. In fact, Momentum’s chairman Jon Lansman, who is Jewish, had earlier that year written an article on “Why the Left must stop talking about ‘Zionism’” altogether.[305] We have no record of Shakespeare proposing similar action regarding the “Saving Labour” website, a project he and key colleagues apparently supported.

 

On 8 July 2016, Simon Jackson noted that Angela Eagle’s team were seeking staff, but he thought “we can do more good here”. He noted, however, that:

 

one of the many things that frustrates me is there are people that think that this

#savinglabour site is enough activity and that they’re flooding us with anti-JC members

they’re really not[306]

 

On 18 July, Sam Matthews and Kat Buckingham discussed Momentum phonecanvassing Labour members who had, the previous year, consented to future contact from “Jeremy for Leader”, which had then become “Momentum”. Matthews and Buckingham suggested this “feels like a breach” of data protection regulations, and they resolved to discuss it with senior management.

 

Matthews contrasted Momentum’s canvassing with Saving Labour’s:

 

it’s one thing asking CLP secretaries to do membership retention work (ie, savinglabour) but letting any random log on and call labour party members

 

This was a reference to advice from Saving Labour to anti-Corbyn CLP secretaries to call members who were in arrears, or who had recently left the party, to persuade them to stay and vote against Corbyn. It is against all Labour Party rules for CLP officers to abuse their position for factional gain in this way.[307] Rather than reporting this or investigating it, however, Matthews instead raised Momentum contacting people on its own database.

 

On 5 July Shakespeare noted that newer members “seem to me like the most likely to be posting things like blairite scum”, and that nearly 4% of new joiners searched were being flagged. Matthews remarked “and chilcot hasn’t even happened yet :/”.[308]

 

Richard Shakespeare 16:54: 

what’re we expecting post chilcot lots of abuse at pro war mps? an influx of antiwar angry people? depends what corbyn says i guess Sam Matthews 16:55: 

I have no idea, but I can’t imagine it will be good[309]

 

Shakespeared added that in a few weeks they could rescan the new members, “to pick up post chilcot and newer bits”.[310] The term “war criminal” was subsequently added as a “banned phrase”, and on 18 August 2016 Matthews even told a colleague that – rather than simply being a political opinion about, for example, MPs who take money from Saudia Arabia and the arms industry and support Saudia Arabia’s brutal war in Yemen – “calling someone a warmonger” was “generally” “enough in itself” to act against members.[311]

 

GLU did not have any instruction or mandate from the NEC to specifically search for “abuse at pro war MPs” from “antiwar angry people”, and we are not aware of any similar interest being displayed in abuse at “antiwar MPs” or from “angry pro-war people”.

 

In July, a range of further “banned phrases” were also added, such as “red Tory”, “pseudo Tory”, “undercover blairite”, “backstabber”, “tory lite”, “class traitor”, “tinpot tory” and “tory smith”. These were all forms of “abuse” or criticism that could be directed at the party’s right. Equivalent terms for “abuse” or criticism in the other direction – such as “communist”, “terrorist”, “Militant” – were not included. Even the term “bitterite” – used by John Prescott to describe “bitter Blairites”[312] – was included, while “traitor,Smith” and “crowdfund,Corbyn” appeared without any equivalent for Corbyn (for example: “traitor,Corbyn”, “crowdfund,Smith”).

 

There was a particular focus on people being called “traitors” – which, given the context of Labour MPs resigning en masse from the shadow cabinet, would target the Labour left. Terms of abuse or criticism more typically levelled at the left, meanwhile – calling them “morons”, “idiots”, “incompetent” – were absent. As the NEC Disputes committee later noted, “The most commonly disputed word was “traitor”. Some members felt that descriptions such as hapless, useless, incompetent should have been included in the category of personal abuse, even though they are not actually obscene.”[313]

 

Even the supposedly equivalent broad terms used, “Blairite” and ”Corbynite”, combined with terms of “abuse”, were not at all equivalent: “Blairite” was a longstanding term widely used in the political lexicon, while the term “Corbynite” was rarely used (the derisive “Corbynista” being favoured by critics instead, but not caught in these searches).

 

There was also a specific focus on finding people who had previously expressed any support or sympathy for the Greens or their policies, with the inclusion of the Twitter handles of Natalie Ben and the Green Party, as well as Brighton and Hove, London, Bristol and Leeds Greens specifically, with the equivalent not being done for other parties. This was, again, something that affected the Labour left, as a significant proportion of members and supporters who supported Corbyn had some sympathies for Green Party positions (a situation which – even without any additional specific targeting – did not apply to Owen Smith.)

 

As well as Twitter, staff specifically scraped Facebook with what Shakespeare called a

“new stasi system”, that would record who were fans of particular pages, and scrape Facebook comments from those pages.[314] This was, again, specifically targeted at pages, such as “JeremyCorbyn4PM”, “Momentum” and “Young Greens”, that might catch people on the left.[315]

 

Indeed, staff specifically discussed fishing expeditions to identify left-wingers and then search for any “abuse” from them. For example, on 11 July 2016, a staff member suggested to Shakespeare taking the names of people commenting “imwithjezza” in response to Angela Eagle, “and then run[ning] something to see if they have posted abuse elsewhere”.[316] Matthews also asked Shakespeare to scrape all fans of the page “Nye Bevan News,” which was running “a crowdfunder” for members who could not afford the £25 registered supporter fee – and, Matthews noted, “are also now posting shit about me” – “I know who runs the page, but we think we can probably suspend everyone who is a member of the page.”[317][318]

 

Staff specifically discussed flagging prominent individuals from the party’s left, and expressed disappointment when they could not find sufficient evidence for action. For example, on 20 July Matthews and Shakespeare discussed James Schneider, then spokesperson for Momentum and later spokesperson for Jeremy Corbyn:

 

Richard Shakespeare 10:02:  james schneider has [been flagged] but unfortunately it’s a bit benign

just statements on voting green a year ago Sam Matthews 10:02:  yeah, it’s a constant pain Richard Shakespeare 10:02: 

any chance of a special taskforce for 2 of the agents to go deeper?

Sam Matthews 10:02: 

James Schneider is always in the vicinity of the line, but never seems to cross it deeper? 

Richard Shakespeare 10:03: 

follow him check his bins Sam Matthews 10:03:  haha

proper espionage 342

 

It appears to have been apparent to both parties in the conversation why it was “unfortunate” that what they had found on Schneider was only “a bit benign”.

 

In a conversation on 13 July, meanwhile, Adilypour and Shakespeare noted that “I think we just need to assume the vast majority of those 150,000 disenfranchised people would have been pro Corbyn”, and appeared to express concern that “not a lot of them were abusive at all so they didn’t come on our radar” – most of them being “silent Corbynistas”.[319]

 

We have not seen any searches done or added specifically to look for abuse coming from the Labour right (for example, by looking at the “Saving Labour” Facebook), or GLU staff taking a specific interest in finding evidence of “abuse” from people associated with the party’s right.

 

The key staff involved in this process themselves also used terms from the “banned phrases”, including in this period itself, on work systems:

 

  • Shakespeare said to Matthews that the registered supporters joining were

“bellend[s]”, a term specifically flagged in the list.[320]

  • Buckingham mentioned to Stolliday someone “trot hunting and emailing me every 10 minutes”.[321]
  • On 20 September 2016, Dan Hogan, Policy Communications Officer and soon to join GLU, referred to a “standard trot MO”, with a colleague saying “nice to know theyre fighting between themselves like rats in a sack” (“rat” and “Trot” both being flagged terms).
  • A staff member commented to Adilypour that Momentum are “fucking mentalists”; to which Adilypour, who helped form the list of banned phrases and was involved in the vetting,[322] responded that “Half of our current membership have serious mental health problems, that’s the frightening thing”.[323] Mental health slurs are not acceptable in the Labour Party, from members or staff.
  • At his leaving speech in March 2017, Creighton would refer to part of their role as having been “expelling Trots,”[324] and in April 2017 he tweeted that Ed Miliband had “[allowed] the Labour Leader to be selected by Tories and Trots”, a reference to registered supporters in 2015 that would, in theory, have merited suspension under the 2016 “Validation” process.[325]

 

None of the staff involved were reported or put into the process. The fact that the staff involved – and indeed, numerous other senior and junior members of Labour staff, as highlighted in the previous section – themselves used the terms of “abuse” they were flagging members for further indicates that this trawling, aimed at  the party’s left, was not a genuine effort to oppose abuse in the party.

 

2.2.4. Staff review

“High profile names who had nothing to do with the validation process for obvious reasons”.

 

The next steps of the process also enabled factional abuse and selective targeting of the left.

 

In total, the searches, along with other complaints submitted by email, flagged 11,250 members and supporters. Matthews and Buckingham would review these cases and decide which to proceed with, and which to drop.[326] A small majority of cases – 5,897 – did not pass through this initial review stage.

 

Officially, the term “Trot”, accompanied by abuse, was used as a search term, like “Blairite” and “Corbynite”. However, very few of these cases appear to have been passed to the NEC.

 

On 6 October 2016, a spreadsheet was exported  with all the cases the NEC had reviewed in the process – 3,333 of them. The spreadsheet includes all the evidence in text form. The word “Blairite” appears 529 times, “Blair” 956 times, “traitor” 598 times and “Green” 1,464 times; but “Trot” just 14 times and “Corbynite” 13 times.[327]

 

While compiling this report, the Party has come across at least 40 Labour Party employees, including most of Labour HQ’s most senior staff, using the term “Trot” to refer to Labour members, elected officials and staff, usually in an explicitly derogatory and insulting manner.

 

The Party has not been able to review the thousands of cases that Matthews and Buckingham did not progress to the NEC. However, we do not believe that any conclusion is tenable other than that either search terms like “Trot” were not actually used, or the results they generated were removed at the first stage by Matthews and/or Buckingham.

 

The Party has also come across a number of notable cases involving abuse from figures on the Labour right, which we know were removed at this stage.

 

For example, Councillor John Ferret, the leader of the Portsmouth Labour Group, was reported by numerous people, including NEC member Jennie Formby, for a string of abusive comments, including referring to Unite as “Stasi”; saying he would “rather vote Tory” than for “any… Trot outfit aligned to Momentum”; calling Corbyn a “terrorist sympathiser” and a “disgusting individual”; saying Labour had become a “Trot infested cult”; and calling Labour MPs who nominated Corbyn “morons”.[328] After Corbyn was re-elected, Ferret resigned from Labour and said he was going to form a new party.[329]

 

Ferret was flagged by the searches, but on 12 August he received the staff decision “NO ACTION – removed at referral”, and was re-enfranchised.[330] More and more complaints about Ferret came in, but instead of investigating Ferret’s comments, staff chose to investigate allegedly “nasty comments” being made about Ferret in a local Facebook group.[331]

 

The case was highlighted in the “Morning Star”, and on 24 September Formby raised Ferret again:

 

I and others have made numerous complaints about this Portsmouth Labour Councillor’s offensive and anti-Labour tweets. To date I have not received any reply but surely the latest one is a tweet too far?[332]

 

GLU-GSO considered replying that he “went through the Validation process”, without clarifying he was then removed from that process by staff.[333] On 29 September McNicol responded that he had resigned, to which Formby responded:

 

He only resigned this week and presumably had a vote in the leadership election despite numerous complaints but thank you for letting me know.[334]

 

On 25 July, meanwhile, a member complained about “offensive & hurtful” abuse from Labour Lord Lewis Moonie, who had tweeted at her to “go fuck yourself”.[335] No action was taken, and at the end of the election junior Disputes team member Ben Westerman, examining allegations of bias, noted that there was “no explanation” of why this was not acted on.[336] No action followed, however.

 

On 4 August, a member reported Bernard McEldowney, identified as the secretary of

Bromsgrove CLP, attaching numerous screenshots of him, with an “Owen Smith” label on his profile, tweeting about “bonkers” “asshole” Paul Mason and the “bloody useless” Corbyn; “mad idiots idolising bloody useless” Corbyn”; “lunatics”; and Corbyn being “too stupid to be leader”; saying that anyone not happy with the 172 MPs should “fuck off and join another party”; Corbyn should “fuck off now”; and Corbyn is a “bastard”.[337] Compliance Administrator Rebecca Child responded that it would be looked at.[338] The member followed up with screenshots of his even more abusive tweets,[339] as did many others.[340] On 3 September 2016 an article was posted on the blog “EvolvePolitics” detailing his offensive tweets, including calling Corbyn a “traitor”, and highlighting it as proof Labour was only targeting Corbyn supporters.[341]

 

McEldowney went into the “Validation” process, but received the status “NO ACTION – removed at referral” – removed by staff before being referred to NEC.[342] On 21 September Westerman noted that he had been reported before the deadline, and there was “no explanation” for why he hadn’t been dealt with.[343] No action followed, however.

 

John McTernan, meanwhile, formerly involved in New Labour and a delegate to 2016 party conference, was repeatedly reported from 25 July onwards for abusive language on Twitter and elsewhere, including describing Labour MPs who nominated Corbyn as “morons”; tweeting twice that Corbyn was a “traitor”; describing “Corbynistas” as racist; telling an SNP MP that he should “Come down to Peckham and try saying that, mate”; calling Corbyn a “Putin-hugging, terrorist-loving, Trident-hater”; and writing in the Daily Telegraph that all of Corbyn’s supporters were “online trolls”.368

 

No action was taken, and McTernan received the staff decision “No action – removed at referral”. On 18 August, however, Dan Hogan did report a member of McTernan’s CLP, Omar Baggili, who – in response to an article by McTernan in “The Telegraph” urging the Conservative government to “crush the rail unions once and for all” – tweeted at him “seriously John why haven’t you got yourself a Tory membership card. They’re anti unions & pro privatisation like you.”[344] Baggili was suspended for “abuse”.

 

On 21 September Westerman mentioned John McTernan as one of the “high profile names who had nothing to do with the validation process for obvious reasons”.[345] We have no record of any explanation as to why McTernan was exempted from the process in this way. (By contrast, Ronnie Draper, leader of the Bakers’ Union and a

Corbyn supporter, was suspended in July 2016 for referring to Blairite “traitors”).[346] On

18 September 2016, John Stolliday discussed “briefing John McTernan”.[347]

 

Other prominent figures from the right were also exempted from the rules. For example, complaints were submitted about Anna Turley MP tweeting about “that arsehole Len [McCluskey]” (which was forwarded to Creighton),[348] and Tristram Hunt MP tweeting about “sectarian Trotskyism masquerading as Labour Party”.[349] Alistair

Campbell, meanwhile, tweeted at someone that they were a “twat”,[350] while Frances

Barber tweeted at Corbyn that he was an “utter bellend”.[351] On 21 September Westerman noted that Alistair Campbell, Anna Turley and various other Labour MPs – all from the right – were “high profile names who had nothing to do with the validation process for obvious reasons”.[352]

 

Complaints were even received about Owen Smith, for referring to Jeremy Corbyn as a “lunatic”, a mental health slur, and saying that he would “smash [Theresa May] back on her heels”, as well as other historic comments alleged to be sexist.[353] Anna Wright, Labour press officer, told London Regional Director Dan Simpson she would not vote for him as a result:

 

Anna Wright 12:16:  I’m not voting for him Dan Simpson 12:16: 

why not?

Anna Wright 12:17: 

He said it pained him that Labour didn’t have the power to smash Theresa May back on her heels

Smash her back on her heels Dan Simpson 12:18:  fuck’s sake

Anna Wright 12:19: 

And Paul Waugh’s found a quote from 2010 where he said “The Liberals will file for

divorce as soon as the bruises start to show through the make-up” Dan Simpson 12:26: 

jesus

 

Despite members’ complaints, however, no action was taken by GLU.

2.2.5. NEC review

“Flimsy evidence”

 

More than 3,000 of the members and supporters flagged were progressed to review by three member NEC panels. Lack of scrutiny and potential political bias was further baked into the process at this stage.

 

On 30 June 2016, in advance of the process beginning, Matthews noted that “As long as our team don’t take the piss – [the NEC will] get used to rubber stamping the recommendations”.[354] NEC members were dealing with so many cases that they were not able to properly scrutinise staff proposals even if they had wanted to. Panel members dealt with thousands of cases “working through 300 or more at a time, day after day”,[355] and as Ann Black later reported:

 

The sheer numbers made it difficult to do this properly – whereas last year we were able to look at Twitter and Facebook accounts as a whole,and get a context for individual comments, this year there was simply no time, and so some people got picked up for retweets which did not imply endorsement of the contents, and Facebook likes rather than original posts.[356]

 

The degree to which scrutiny was conducted was reflected in the fact that one 3member NEC panel agreed to suspend a Labour MP based on a simple error. On 17 August 2016 Stolliday noticed, and flagged to Matthews, that abuse the MP had been complaining about had erroneously been put on their own record:

 

“3 NEC members have agreed to action him inadvertently on that basis.

 

Please can one of the team sort this out so we don’t accidentally suspend one of our own MPs?”[357]

 

The majority of the NEC was, further, associated with the “right” rather than the “left”, and NEC members responded individually to cases, with the decisions of other panel members hidden from them. This meant, although several “left” members were included, all “panels” could have a “right” majority. Indeed, far more cases were reviewed by Labour “right” NEC members, who would then wave them through as planned, as the below table, from a spreadsheet of decisions on 2,375 cases on 12

September, shows.[358]

 

 

 

NEC Member Total Decisions Action No Action
James Asser19721874 (95.0%)98 (5.0%)
Alice Perry11521124 (97.6%)28 (0.4%)
Johanna Baxter820813 (99.1%)7 (0.8%)
Ann Black637532 (83.5%)105 (16.5%)
Keith Birch278156 (56.1%)122 (43.9%)
Jim Kennedy5436 (66.7%)18 (33.3%)
Jennie Formby7613 (17.1%)63 (82.9%)

 

 

In addition, guidance was lacking on what kind of things were actually actionable – the NEC was expected to wave through staff proposals. On 8 August 2016 Jim Kennedy requested some guidance in this respect:

 

At the last procedures committee I requested guidance on membership/supporter decisions specifically on retweets. Last year, the panel I believe, but most certainly me took a more liberal view on retweets outside of those that were racist sexist homophobic or outright obnoxious.

 

I am minded to view retweets in the same manner as last year and differently to first hand tweets, however, as guidance was requested I will wait for that before progressing in a comprehensive fashion.

 

I also raised at the procedures committee that I was concerned that the searches being undertaken are failing to recognise context, this is evident in many cases and I think a blanket reference back to us without qualifying or examining the context of the entry is unhelpful and time consuming.[359]

 

In response, Buckingham on 15 August provided the NEC with brief “Validation Guidelines”. These noted that, for example:

 

Social media comments should be considered in context. For example, someone may ‘retweet’ an abusive statement and mean to perpetuate the abuse, whilst other are less clearly designed to spread the abuse, but may be to comment on another part of the tweet. These need to be considered on a case-by-case basis.[360]

 

This guidance was different from the pre-existing GLU policy (discussed elsewhere) of not acting on retweets or shares. Buckingham noted internally: “I added a bit about retweets, but impossible to really say anything when we have to be so vague.”[361] It is not clear why she felt she needed “to be so vague”.

 

The process thereby resulted in large numbers of people being suspended or excluded for things the Head of NEC Disputes, Ann Black, later described as “frivolous”.[362]

 

Members were, for example, suspended or excluded simply for having retweeted something from Caroline Lucas or the Green Party. One young Jewish activist, a

Labour member since 2012, was autoexcluded from the party for retweeting some Green politicians on issues he agreed with them on, and was “very upset and understandably distressed by the whole affair”. (He was reinstated on appeal after the election.)[363] In another high profile case, a British Paralympian had her membership rejected for having retweeted her local MP Caroline Lucas and two Green Party tweets – a “superhero” video on restoring Legal Aid, and a local speech – in April 2015, more than a year before she joined Labour. (Her membership was, likewise, restored after the election.)[364]

 

Other cases included:

 

  • A member suspended for tweeting “why join when some MP’s don’t give a shit what you think or vote if they don’t want it”, flagged due to the term “shit” near the Twitter handle of a Labour MP in the thread. (The suspension was lifted in February 2017, after six months.)[365]
  • A Corbyn supporter suspended for a single tweet at Tristram Hunt MP, calling him “Snooty twat”.[366] (It was not until a review of historic suspensions in late 2018, more than two years later, that this case was brought to the NEC, which restored their membership.)
  • A Corbyn supporter suspended for swearing at a rapper.[367]
  • A member suspended for sharing a petition calling for the expulsion of Tony Blair from the Labour Party.[368]
  • A member suspended for retweeting a tweet to Michael Dugher MP, that said he wrote “for tory rags at say 2k a hour” and, having resigned from the shadow cabinet, was “just not a traitor in cabinet anymore”.[369]
  • A member suspended for tweeting to someone that they “strike me as a bit of a bellend”. (It appears that the tweet was wrongly read as being about Jess Philips, who the respondent was in fact defending.)[370]
  • A member autoexcluded for retweeting a satirical tweet by comedian David Schneider endorsing Zac Goldsmith. After four days, this was reversed and they were instead suspended for saying “#FuckEm” regarding critics of Corbyn.[371]
  • A member suspended for “abusive language” towards Labour staff, for suggesting in a Facebook comment that Sam Matthews’ actions were affected by “Coke clouding his thinking.”[372]

 

The thing that the vast majority of these people had in common was that they were supporters of Jeremy Corbyn.

 

The longstanding chair of NEC Disputes Ann Black later expressed concern about “the flimsy evidence for excluding some of the individuals who have written to me”, such as retweeting the Green Party “expressing sentiments shared by many Labour members”.[373]

 

2.2.6. Results

“suspension acted as a punishment and was universally perceived as such” – Labour NEC

 

Under this process, “registered supporters” (and “affiliate supporters” from affiliated trade unions), could be rejected without any recourse to appeal (or refund). Newer members could have their membership rejected, though they could appeal these decisions, and existing members could have their membership suspended.[374] Members accused of supporting another party could also be “auto-excluded”, with no right of appeal.[375]

 

In total, GLU reported that 11,250 individuals, both members and supporters, were processed in the “Validation” process. Half of these were immediately dropped, and the rest – 5,253 – progressed further. In total, NEC panels heard 3,458 cases, with a majority for action in 2,540 of them (73.4%). Action was taken against 2,887 Labour Party members, as well as large numbers of supporters.[376] This included 1,024 preexisting members placed under “administrative suspension pending investigation”;[377] 464 people auto-excluded; and 1,949 supporter applications rejected.[378]

 

Much larger numbers of people – at least 6,000 – were also initially denied a vote, as Labour removed from the ballot all people initially “flagged”, rather than simply removing those it decided to act against.[379][380] Many of these would not receive a ballot until the election was drawing a close – without any explanation to them of what was going on. In the final week of the election, Matthews provided spreadsheets of those who had been flagged and blocked, but should now receive a ballot as the decision was “No action”. This amounted to 705 people, who had been, without any explanation to them, denied a ballot until the final days of the election. (A further 54 people were also to receive ballots and apologies, mainly over mistaken identities.)[381]

 

Other people, meanwhile, were suspended but not informed, gradually realising only through making enquiries as to why they had not received a ballot.[382] This contributed to widespread fears among some members that they had been secretly suspended or were being denied a vote.

 

Other changes from the 2015 process revealed the [383]aim of denying people a vote in the process.

 

For example, in 2015 members being “vetted” were not denied a vote, even if they were “suspended pending investigation”. This time, however, administrative suspension letters were amended to reflect the fact that “the member will not receive a ballot in this process as well as being administratively suspended pending an investigation.” This was despite the fact that, as Matthews emphasised to staff (his emphasis), “There is no expectation that you must complete [the] investigation before the end of the leadership process.”408 This meant that, as the NEC Disputes committee later put it, “suspension acted as a punishment and was universally perceived as such.”[384]

 

On 30 August 2016 NEC Disputes chair Ann Black expressed her concerns to GLU and GSO that she is “more and more worried that we’re going against Shami Chakrabarti’s recommendations”, including:

 

limiting, and where possible avoiding, the use of blanket suspensions.  The consequences are more serious than last year, when we let every member vote and sorted out their long-term status later, this year we’re blocking them from voting.[385]

 

On 18 October 2016, similarly, the NEC Disputes committee formally agreed a letter of concerns regarding aspects of this process, including asking:

 

should members who were suspended or excluded have been allowed to vote, as they were in 2015, while their longer-term status was clarified?  As most suspensions were lifted after the ballot closed, albeit with warnings, in this case suspension acted as a punishment and was universally perceived as such.[386]

 

Another change was that, unlike in 2015, social media trawling and action was also taken on and against existing members, not just those new to the party. NEC Disputes similarly raised concerns after the election about whether this should have been done.[387]

 

The decision not to provide people with any of the evidence for which they were being suspended or excluded, meanwhile, caused distress to many. Instead, on 25 August 2016, the day after suspension letters starting landing with members, Matthews advised colleagues [388]– “aware that a number of you will be receiving enquiries from members” – that “If members or supporters would like more information on the evidence seen by the panel”, they could call Labour’s call centre “and a team in Newcastle will be able to help them”.413 Following calls, the Newcastle team was then to provide the evidence upon which the decision was made.

 

Ann Black suggested to McNicol and the GLU team that this was not an efficient process:

 

“I appreciate that it is time-consuming to send everyone the evidence used by the panel, but how does this balance against the time involved in individuals making phone calls and then individual extracts of the data relating to their case?  It would also cut out the stage where they complain that they have no idea why they’ve been suspended.  So is it more efficient to do for everyone rather than piecemeal?”[389]

 

Black continued to reiterate this concern,[390] and after the election, NEC Disputes noted that this “two-stage process” whereby members had to request evidence “involved delays and more email exchanges from both sides, and meant that inaccurate claims were widely publicised… before the evidence was provided.”[391] This also led to large numbers of people submitting Subject Access Requests (SARs), creating further work for GLU as it is a legal requirement to comply with SARs. (By 14 December 2016, GLU reported having done 297 SARs.)[392]

 

The whole process was also replete with errors. For example, some people who had been rejected in 2015, but successfully won on appeal, found themselves being autoexcluded again, purportedly contrary to GLU’s intention.[393]

 

After letters started going out, moreover, staff realised that “the matching process for Facebook is not nearly as accurate as it is on Twitter”. Matthews reported that “400 people are in the system on the basis of evidence sourced in this way”, and 22 letters had already been sent out on the basis of such evidence. GLU resolved to individually re-review all those pieces of evidence, and send apologies to those already suspended or excluded.[394] Months after the election, however, staff were still finding dozens of people “Auto-Excluded in error over the summer”.[395]

 

The software would also produce erroneous matches when it found terms inside other words. For example, the term “rat” returned thousands of results with words like “democratic” and “rational”, results which apparently could not be removed, and appeared in the reports to the NEC.[396][397]

 

All these errors – in a process targeted at Corbyn supporters – fueled further distrust of GLU among large parts of the Labour membership.

2.2.6. “Validation”, antisemitism and impact

“By creating an atmosphere where anyone who had tweeted that they once voted Green was expelled or suspended… it enabled a conspiracy theory to develop around the idea that the Labour establishment was trying to stop people from taking part in Labour Party democracy. And I think that was the sort of root as to how this sort of antisemitic conspiratorial thinking started in the party.” – Adam Langleben, Jewish Labour Movement

 

In response to public criticism of a “purge” of Corbyn supporters, on 1 September 2016 Iain McNicol wrote to the NEC to defend the process, and provided “some of the examples of comments of individuals who have been ruled ineligible to participate in the leadership ballot”.[398]

 

Of the 36 example comments provided, 13 involved support for a rival party, and 23 were examples of abuse. Of the 23 examples of abuse, 10 – 43.4% – concerned antisemitism. These were mostly horrific, such as comments about “Zios” controlling the world and “Zio Pigs”.

 

This was then reported by the media. The Huffington Post were also provided other information and internal briefings from “party sources”, and wrote about it under the headline:

 

“Revealed: The Racist, Anti-Semitic, Threatening Abuse That Barred Applicants From Labour Leadership Election”[399]

 

They reported that:

 

The party’s Compliance Unit has sent a dossier of abusive messages to Corbyn to prove that it has acted reasonably, but has not yet had a reply from the party leader.

 

Party HQ staff and NEC members involved in the vetting process are furious at accusations of bias towards either Smith or Corbyn and insist they act only in accordance with party policy.

 

 

One party source told HuffPost UK that the hard work of the teams who are rooting out abuse on a daily basis was being undermined by suggestions that exclusions were frivolous.

 

However, contrary to the impression given by this briefing by “party sources” and McNicol’s letter to the NEC, the 2016 “Validation” process was not fundamentally about antisemitism, and general allegations – often flimsy – of supporting the Greens or engaging in abusive or rude online conduct (such as accusations of Labour MPs being “traitors”), overwhelmingly dominated. As we have seen, the whole process was also targeted at supporters of Jeremy Corbyn only.

 

Of the 1,070 members suspended at the end of the “Validation” process, 6.4% of the cases – 69 – had antisemitism as a category or mentioned cause.[400] The words and phrases to flag focused mainly on general abuse, and only one, “Zio”, related to antisemitism (a second, “Yid”, was dropped part way through as not generating many results).[401] “Zio” also produced many false positives relating to “Zionism”, and immediately after the election 33 – almost half – of these suspensions were lifted. The wide range of terms GLU uses today in additional social media searches, which are designed to return results for antisemitism without too many false positives – such as “Rothschild”, “Soros”, “Icke”, “Atzmon” and “Mossad” – were not employed.

 

Of the ten examples of antisemitism McNicol provided, meanwhile, five came from a single member, two from another member, and the remaining three do not appear on the NEC decisions and evidence spreadsheet at all.

 

Reports and briefings such as this helped to fuel the sense among some Labour members that they were being unfairly demonised as antisemites. The actions taken by GLU in this period generated considerable mistrust among large sections of the Labour membership in the party’s disciplinary processes, and a suspicion that suspensions were being issued on spurious grounds and for factional gain – even when these related to serious allegations of antisemitism.

 

This would all contribute to the growth of a culture of “denialism” in parts of the membership regarding disciplinary cases and the extent to which antisemitism has been a genuine issue in the party, including sympathies for members correctly suspended over allegations of antisemitism, which has proved extremely alienating and upsetting to many of Labour’s Jewish members. (Discussed further in Section 6.5.) Adam Langleben, JLM Campaigns Officer in this period, who resigned from the party in spring 2019 over concerns about antisemitism, later recalled that it was these factional purges that created this distrust among the membership and played a big role in creating the antisemitism crisis in Labour:

 

The blame I think, lies with the moderates who ran the Labour Party in the run-up to Jeremy Corbyn’s election. In that, by creating an atmosphere where anyone who had tweeted that they once voted Green was expelled or suspended or their membership was revoked from the Labour Party, it enabled a conspiracy theory to develop around the idea that the Labour establishment was trying to stop people from taking part in Labour Party democracy. And I think that was the sort of root as to how this sort of antisemitic conspiratorial thinking started in the party.[402]

 

2.2.7. Conclusions

 

The extensive factional activity undertaken by GLU in 2016 in relation to the move to depose Corbyn and the leadership election that followed demonstrates that claims that GLU followed unwritten instructions from the Leader’s Office to not act on antisemitism complaints – for which the Party cannot find any evidence – are not plausible. Far from being subordinate to LOTO, GLU was openly hostile to Corbyn’s leadership and worked against the interests of Corbyn’s leadership by attempting to assist his removal as leader.

 

The “Validation process” created an enormous backlog of cases and outstanding work, which impacted the handling of other complaints, including complaints of antisemitism. It also fostered widespread distrust of the disciplinary processes among the membership and a perception that suspensions imposed by GLU were unjust and motivated by factionalism. This formed the basis for a culture of “denialism” among some Labour members about the problem of antisemitism in the Party, with some viewing this as a continuation of GLU’s factional misuse of the disciplinary processes.

 

The case studies in the next section demonstrate that the use of Labour’s disciplinary processes for factional ends by the same key GLU staff members continued after the 2016 leadership election, and well into 2018.

 

2.3. Case studies: factionalism in the Governance and Legal Unit

 

2.3. Case studies: factionalism in the Governance and Legal Unit 156
2.3.1. Summary156
2.3.2. Ian McKenzie157
2.3.3. Manjit Panesar and Syed Siddiqi164
2.3.3.i. Scrutiny from above166
2.3.3.ii. Assessment168
2.3.4. Conclusions170

 

 

2.3.1. Summary

 

We have already seen how GLU’s factional role continued after both Corbyn’s 2016 reelection, and the 2017 election.

 

However, in response to reports that Sam Matthews refused to suspend or investigate the Holocaust denier Chris Crookes, despite repeated complaints over almost 18 months, a source close to him has claimed that GLU “feared ending up on a collision course with NEC members and Corbyn’s office over disciplinary cases”.[403]

 

The JLM’s leaked submission to the EHRC, meanwhile, asserted that “following the 2017 general election and into 2018… staff describe a cultural shift” in the party’s management – “decisions by GLU staff were increasingly undermined” and:

 

From the [2017] election onwards, staffers say that LOTO expected the GLU staff to follow unwritten guidelines that raised the bar on which antisemitic conduct warranted disciplinary action.[404]

 

The Party’s investigation has revealed that, on the contrary, key GLU staff such as Sam

Matthews, Compliance Officer, Head of Disputes and Acting Director of GLU between

June 2016 and to July 2018 and Dan Hogan, Disputes Investigations Officer from November 2016 to June 2018, continued to act in a factional manner and prioritise factional-related work throughout the time that Iain McNciol was General Secretary. This continued during the interim period in March 2018 when there was no General Secretary, and even after Jennie Formby started in April 2018.

 

The following two case studies help to illustrate this.

 

 

2.3.2. Ian McKenzie

“Ian is a top guy. Labour First” – Dan Hogan on Ian McKenzie

“You need to be objective” – Nareser Osei, Head of Disputes, to Dan Hogan on Ian McKenzie

 

Ian McKenzie was the CLP Secretary of Lewisham East, and an activist and organiser of the “old right” Labour faction “Labour First”, delivering trainings in various parts of the country on how to beat Momentum and the left in local organising.

 

Dan Hogan, a Disputes Investigations Officer from November 2016 to June 2018, was a fellow activist in  “Labour First” and was familiar with McKenzie. On 14 July 2016, after a colleague discussed moving into Lewisham East constituency and letting the CLP Secretary or Heidi Allen’s constituency office know, Hogan had responded:

 

Dan Hogan 15:44:  aha, Ian McKenzie

Ian is a top guy. Labour First. Fought Militant last time round

ian@mckenziecommunications.com 

He’ll probably be marking off names at the meeting to keep out trots, so best to let him know.[405]

 

On 25 July 2016, McKenzie was reported to the party for abusive conduct: calling a

Corbyn supporter a “Trot”, telling another to “Get tae fuck”; and calling Corbyn an “Assad apologist”.[406] He was further reported for talking of “Trot… entryism” and likening Momentum to a “Trot grouping burrowing into Labour like some sheep tic parasite”.[407] He received the status “NO ACTION – removed at referral” – removed by staff before being referred to NEC.[408]

 

On 9 October 2017, meanwhile, Ian McKenzie called “Legal Queries” requesting to exclude an alleged member of the Trotskyist group AWL, ahead of their AGM. Hogan forwarded this to Matthews, saying “I’m guessing this was buried in the backlog.”[409]

 

Several other complaints were made about McKenzie in 2017 from local members, for allegedly undemocratically excluding the left locally, including BAME women who wished to stand as councillors. These were not addressed by GLU or Region.[410]

 

As CLP chair in Lewisham East in spring 2018, McKenzie then led the selection campaign  forJanet Daby, who defeated candidates backed by the Labour left for this key “London safe seat”.

 

On 20 May 2018, however, a Twitter storm erupted after several tweets from McKenzie were revealed, including:

 

“Emily Thornberry is too old for ISIS. They won’t make a sex slave of her. They’ll behead her and dump her in a mass grave.”

 

“Maybe she’d agree sex slavery to one man only, provided he didn’t sell her on or insist on gang rape.”

 

“Islam/Islamism learned the trick from Israel: to criticise Israel is anti-semitic. No, religion is propositional.”[411]

 

This led to press enquiries to Labour about what action was being taken,[412] numerous formal complaints being submitted,[413] and members bringing it to the attention of Jennie Formby. That evening, Formby emailed Head of Complaints Sophie Goodyear: “The views expressed are clearly abhorrent, could you please have a look at them and take action as soon as possible?”

 

The following morning, Goodyear responded that “Based on the content of the posts I think this warrants a suspension”, and asked Nareser Osei, Head of Disputes for her view, who agreed:

 

the views expressed are very serious, given that Ian McKenzie is a role holder it would be the most appropriate course of action.[414]

 

That lunchtime, meanwhile, after press “re-upp[ed] this as Guido asking again”, Thomas Gardiner emailed separately about the case:

 

This tweet is graphic, deeply unpleasant, and clearly misogynistic. 

 

I think there are grounds for suspension, particularly given the damage this could cause to our public standing during the by-election campaign. 

 

Sophie G and Sam, what are your views?

 

Goodyear and Osei reiterated their view that “there is enough grounds for suspension”.[415][416] According to Osei, Matthews then found her in the office and:

 

He informed me that Ian McKenzie was working for Rokshana Fiaz, the Mayor of Newham. I was surprised and said that I will email the chain to recuse myself given that I am a councillor in Newham. He told me he wanted to keep me out of this to ‘protect me’ which I thought was odd at the time.

 

As soon as I emailed the chain [to remove myself], Sam immediately came up to both Sophie Goodyear and I, and said he would handle this going forward and went to speak to Dan Hogan about the matter privately. Again I thought that was a strange thing to do.441

 

That afternoon, Matthews had prepared a suspension letter[417] – but at 6pm he emailed disagreeing with the proposal from two women members of staff that McKenzie should be suspended:

 

“I don’t think that two tweets, both from over two years ago would ordinarily warrant an administrative suspension.”

 

He further argued that suspending the CLP chair during a by-election “is a potential reputational problem on its own”, and could be viewed “as petty revenge” against

McKenzie for his role locally. Instead, he advocated an NOI, and attached a draft.[418]

 

Matthews had taken the press team out of the email chain for his 6pm email to GLUGSO. Later that evening, a press officer responded to a query by saying – based on the earlier chain – that McKenzie was being suspended, which was then reported publicly.

 

The following morning, Jennie Formby emailed:

 

Sam and I have just spoken and I have confirmed that whilst I understand and fully appreciate the points that have been raised in subsequent emails, I don’t believe we have any alternative other than to suspend as recommended by Nareser.[419]

 

The suspension letter then went out.[420]

 

Matthews assigned Dan Hogan as investigating officer, and Hogan proceeded with investigation to bring the case to the July 2018 NEC Disputes. This investigation included other allegations about McKenzie’s role locally. Even before interviewing McKenzie, however, Hogan informed him that he would be dismissing most of those complaints and not asking him about them.[421][422]

 

Osei reported that McKenzie was receiving advice from Labour regional staff on his response to the investigation.447 On 4 June 2018, McKenzie mentioned ongoing health issues he had:

 

I have been receiving treatment for the past three years since a hit and run driver knocked me off my cycle and broke several of my bones, including my skull. I have been treated at three hospitals for, amongst many other things, severe depression, treatment that is ongoing. If I get to the end of a week and have only spent two or three hours that week contemplating ending my own life, then that is a good week.

 

Hogan referred this to Safeguarding, who offered guidance which was relayed to McKenzie.[423]

 

On 18 June Hogan interviewed McKenzie, together with Disputes officer Megan McCann. After the interview, McCann emailed Ben Jameson, Safeguarding Manager, that she had “[taken] notes throughout” the interview, and “my overwhelming thought throughout the whole interview was that this man was displaying signs that I have seen in other careers, namely signs of deteriorating mental health”. Moreover:

 

I am concerned that, should the case go to Disputes, that man will hang himself.[424]

 

Ben Jameson and Nareser Osei asked to meet with Jennie Formby about the safeguarding concerns.[425]

 

On 19 June 2018 Hogan met with the Head of Disputes, Nareser Osei, regarding the case, on her request. In a note he emailed himself that day concerning “Issues with Line Management”, he wrote:

 

“I raised concerns I had that [Ian McKenzie] had been the victim of a political vendetta, and that some senior staff in the organisation had willingly or otherwise allowed him to be targeted in this way…

 

I also raised my concern that Thomas Gardiner was also prejudiced through his prior comments about IM’s tweets prior to his suspension: “This tweet is graphic, deeply unpleasant, and clearly misogynistic.””451

 

GLU staff, such as Dan Hogan, regularly expressed opinions on cases when deliberating whether to investigate and whether to suspend. This was their job, not a conflict of interest.

 

Hogan also insisted that Osei should re-recuse herself from the case and have no involvement in it, as although McKenzie was no longer going to be employed by Newham Council, “the outcome of this case may still affect [McKenzie]’s potential future employment with Newham, and Nareser for that reason has an interest.”

 

Nareser Osei, Head of Disputes, and Sophie Goodyear, Head of Complaints, had worked in GLU under John Stolliday and Sam Matthews while Iain McNicol was General Secretary. They had both recommended suspension on the basis of the misogynist nature of McKenzie’s tweets and there does not appear to have been any legitimate reason for their views on this case to have been questioned or discounted by Matthews and Hogan.

 

Hogan did not declare his own conflict of interest arising from his familiarity with and favourable views of McKenzie, which he had expressed in 2016, or his activism in “Labour First”, and he did not recuse himself from the case.

 

Osei responded to Hogan that “you need to be objective”. He noted:

 

I do not need to be told to be objective or look at both sides of a case – I have been an Investigations Officer for longer than Nareser has. I reacted with muted anger and told Nareser that ‘I’m a professional, thanks.’452

 

Hogan had also objected to being “patronised”, by having previously been asked by Osei to type up notes of his interview with McKenzie – “We don’t need to be told that, we’re experienced investigations officers” – and then being asked to bring those minutes to this meeting.

 

                                             

  • 2018-19: “180619 Hogan Issues with line management.eml”
  • 2018-19: “180619 Hogan Issues with line management.eml”. Also: “180612 LWG Hogan conversation.eml”

Osei asked Hogan to finish typing up his notes from the interview, separ[426]ately from McCann. Opening Megan McCann’s interview notes on the shared drive that afternoon, however, Osei discovered that they were currently “locked for editing by

‘Dan Hogan’”. She alerted Gardiner that Hogan was currently editing McCann’s notes –

“with no document infront of him to reference”.453

 

The following day, Dan Hogan went on long-term sick leave.

 

On 27 June, Safeguarding Manager Ben Jameson emailed McKenzie asking to speak with him and discuss the support available to him. McKenzie replied and said that “I am not, in fact, finding the investigations process difficult”; his “real difficulties stem from my lack of paid work”; and he would prefer the case not be delayed:

 

I don’t think us speaking would serve much purpose for anyone, including (mostly importantly) me. Thanks for the offer nonetheless.[427]

 

Jameson reported this to Osei and Formby:

 

Based on his response I am satisfied that we have offered Ian support and that there is no immediate risk to his welfare as a result of the investigation process.  He also advised that it would be worse for him were his case not to be heard at the next Disputes panel.  I don’t think it is now necessary to delay the investigation/disciplinary process whilst we ensure further support is in place.

 

Formby commented that “I feel we’re being played here”, and “It may well be too late now to include his papers in the documents for Tuesday anyway, and of course any delay has been down to the very strong representations made in relation to his welfare.”[428]

 

On 28 June, McKenzie emailed again to reassure Jameson further, speaking about his “magnificent campaign to save Lewisham East Labour Party from the gang currently running the Labour Party and their large pitchfork army of thugs”, and his successes in preventing the party locally “morphing further into a toxic concoction of Militant, the SWP, Left Unity, AWL and the CPB”.[429]

 

In April 2019 McKenzie’s case was reviewed by NEC Disputes, which referred him to the NCC.[430]

 

This example clearly shows Matthews and Hogan acting in a faction manner to try to protect a figure from the right of the Labour Party. Not only had McKenzie been protected from sanction in 2016 and subsequent complaints about his conduct ignored, but even after Formby became the general secretary, Matthews and Hogan attempted to protect McKenzie including by:

 

  • Attempting to insist on an NOI rather than suspension, a decision that would have been inconsistent with their then approach to other cases. This involved attempting to overrule senior women members of staff on a case of misogyny.
  • Failing to declare their own conflicts of interest and claiming largely spurious conflicts of interests from other staff to exclude them from involvement.
  • And, other staff suspected at the time that Hogan may have been exaggerating safeguarding issues in order to have the case dropped (Hogan’s editing of McCann’s notes, and McKenzie’s later assertions that he was fine, would seem to support this allegation).

 

This behaviour is all inconsistent with the claims made by former staff like Sam Matthews that GLU was somehow subordinate to LOTO in 2017 and early 2018. These key staff in GLU continued to misuse the disciplinary processes for right-wing factional ends even after Jennie Formby took over as general secretary.

 

 

 

2.3.3. Manjit Panesar and Syed Siddiqi

“We have spoken about this one before but could you update me in writing please so I have it on record? Has any action been taken against Manjit Panesar?” – Head of Complaints Sophie Goodyear to Dan Hogan, the day before he stopped working for the party

 

In 2017, Ilford South was dogged by issues around councillor selections. The dominant faction led by Jas Athwal, leader of Redbridge Council, was accused of initiating deselections of several sitting left-wing councillors, including the CLP Chair councillor Barbara White, and of registering paper members in preparation for councillor selection meetings. The CLP Executive, including its “pro-Corbyn” secretary Syed Siddiqi, was on the side of the councillors, and Siddiqi was himself seeking selection as a councillor.

 

Athwal himself personally tried to get at least one councillor suspended by GLU for “bringing Redbridge Labour into disrepute”, and the deselected councillors raised complaints with London Region and GLU. This included complaints of discrimination, including a complaint by Barbara White, who is Jewish, alleging that she had been denounced and disciplined by the Labour Group for opposing antisemitism. However, GLU either ignored complaints by Barbara White and other individuals or passed them to Region. By autumn 2017, however, one of the deselected councillors was pursuing legal action against the party, a case which Stolliday, Director of GLU was involved in.

 

In September 2017, after removing two members from a local Labour group Whatsapp chat over inappropriate conduct, Siddiqi received an abusive and aggressive call from one of the two, Manjit Panesar, saying “You need to restore me to that group chat, or you and me are going to have a fucking big fucking battleground here”. Panesar threatened Siddiqi and engaged in Islamophobic abuse – “you and me, it’s war now” and “You cannot give me this fucking Islamic bullshit… Islamic fundamentalist lunatic”.[431]

 

Siddiqi, who had recorded this part of the call, reported Panesar to the police, and made a complaint to Labour, enclosing the audio recording. Two weeks later, he called GLU directly to chase the case and spoke to Sam Matthews, after which Matthews and Hogan issued a suspension for Panesar.

 

Subsequently, however, Region noted that “stakeholders” were contacting them asking why Panesar was suspended and Siddiqi was not, while Panesar submitted counter complaints against Siddiqi, including a claim that on the call that Panesar initiated, Siddiqi had threatened to break his legs. Although the audio recording proved that Panesar had engaged in aggressive Islamophobic abuse of Siddiqi, the recording did not evidence the claim that Siddiqi made a threat on the call, and the counter-complaints Panesar submitted were mostly refuted by the Whatsapp evidence he himself supplied, Matthews and Hogan then lifted the suspension of Panesar, and placed both him and Siddiqi “under investigation”.[432]

 

All investigative attention was now turned on Siddiqi, however, with Hogan proactively collecting and investigating even minor complaints, for example about CLP meetings being organised without enough notice, that were normally in the purview of Internal Governance, not Disputes. Hogan even personally insisted to Siddiqi that Panesar’s status as a local voting delegate to the CLP be accepted, but when Siddiqi was selected as a council candidate, Hogan tried to get the Local Campaign Forum to reinterview him on the basis of information he provided (although, as discussed elsewhere, arranging re-interviews was not considered after Alan Bull, who had shared Holocaust denial material, was selected).

 

Hogan later described keeping Panesar “formally under investigation”, and after he interviewed Panesar on 1 December 2017, no further action was pursued against him. Instead, on 6 December 2017 GLU suspended Siddiqi, and he became the focus of all investigative efforts.

 

Hogan worked to collect a range of complaints against Siddiqi, most of which were very minor. Although further complaints about Panesar’s conduct at a CLP meeting were received in February 2018, however, alleging bullying and intimidation, no further action against him was taken.[433]

 

Siddiqi’s suspension meant that, with an upcoming CLP AGM in February 2018, Siddiqi was no longer CLP Secretary and would not be able to stand again, and he could no longer be a council candidate. At the February 2018 AGM, Panesar was then elected CLP Secretary in his place. Hogan did not raise that there had been complaints about Panesar, including an audio recording in which he used abusive and Islamophobic language, ahead of the election at the AGM, even though he had proposing submitting evidence on Siddiqi to the Local Campaign Forum and argued that he should be reinterviewed after he was selected as a council candidate. Emails show that Hogan instead worked with the regional office to ensure that the disciplinary case against Panesar was not raised at the AGM. When complaints followed about Panesar’s conduct at the meeting, Hogan promised action but took none, later privately claiming that they were “confected with the purpose of undermin[ing] the Party’s investigation of their friend, Mr Siddiqi”.

 

After being elected, Panesar ensured he took part in the selections of council candidates, then from May 2018 reportedly “disappeared” and stopped performing the role.

 

In January 2018, meanwhile, both Mike Gapes, MP for Ilford South, and Athwal,[434][435] had personally submitted further complaints about Siddiqi – Gapes expecting “the strongest possible disciplinary action”462 – as had the office manager of Wes Streeting, MP for Ilford North.[436][437] All of these individuals were associated with the right of the Labour Party. In January 2018, meanwhile, Siddiqi engaged lawyers to delay him being deselected as a council candidate, while supporters lobbied the NEC and GLU regarding the case.

 

Hogan, however, continued to investigate and pursue action against Siddiqi alone. For five months, from October 2017 to February 2018 – a period in which, as discussed later, the “Disputes” inbox to which antisemitism complaints were being forwarded went mostly unmanaged, despite Matthews’ assurances that Hogan was working on this – this was one of the main things Hogan worked on. Hogan provided just one case to the NEC Disputes committee in January 2018, and 20% of the emails he sent in these five months concerned this case.464

 

2.3.3.i. Scrutiny from above

 

Upon being suspended in December, Siddiqi publicly raised that he had submitted a complaint of Islamophobic abuse to GLU, but instead of acting against Panesar, they had suspended Siddiqi, the complainant. He claimed this was because he was a proCorbyn CLP secretary and Momentum activist.

 

On 12 December 2017, having been emailed by Siddiqi, NEC Disputes chair Ann Black enquired about the case, asking “why has Manjit [Panesar] been let off, despite his Islamophobic behaviour?” Hogan and Matthews insisted that he “has not been ‘let off’” and remained “under investigation”.[438] However, Hogan had later described keeping Panesar “formally under investigation”, and after interviewing Panesar no further investigation was conducted.

 

Hogan and Matthews also misrepresented police investigations into these matters, including, in February 2018, to new NEC Disputes chair Christine Shawcroft, who had also raised concerns about the Panesar and Siddiqi cases.[439]

 

At first, the fact that Siddiqi had reported Panesar to the police was used as a reason to lift the suspension, on the grounds that a separate, police investigation was ongoing. Subsequently, however, the fact that police were still “assessing” Panesar’s allegations against Siddiqi was cited as proof of the seriousness of the allegations, and justification for keeping Siddiqi under suspension.[440] Matthews responded to Shawcroft in February, for example, that “in light of the ongoing police investigation, this matter is much too serious to attempt to resolve informally via mediation”.[441] This was despite the fact that GLU already knew that Panesar’s prime allegation was something the police said they were “very unlikely” to act on.[442] The end of the police investigation into Panesar, meanwhile, was now cited as evidence that Siddiqi’s complaint was less serious. GLU themselves also provided other complaints against Siddiqi to the police, and did not consider this to conflict with their own investigation.

 

Hogan and Matthews suggested that police responses indicated Panesar’s complaints were more serious than Siddiq’s. They had in fact suggested the opposite: police had interviewed Panesar under caution and then passed the allegations to the CPS, which declined to prosecute. By contrast, police were merely at the stage of “assessing” some of Panesar’s allegations.[443]

 

In March 2018, the NEC referred Siddiqi’s case to the NCC. In June 2018, however, renewed complaints were received about Panesar’s Islamophobic call, which new general secretary Jennie Formby asked be looked into. Initially, Hogan did not reply, but on being chased two weeks later, on 19 June 2018 Head of Complaints Sophie Goodyear asked Hogan:

 

“We have spoken about this one before but could you update me in writing please so I have it on record? Has any action been taken against Manjit Panesar?”[444]

 

No “update in writing… on record”, followed, however. Instead, the following day Hogan went on long-term sick leave. He would go on to send just one more email from his work account, on 5 July, forwarding an email relating to this case, before leaving the party for good.

 

On 21 June, Goodyear responded to Formby:

 

As far as I can see no action has been taken against Manjit Panesar, but this is something i asked Dan for an update on as he was investigating and he is out of the office for a few weeks now.

 

In October 2018, Panesar was issued with an NOI regarding his Islamophobic abuse, and on 17 April 2019, the NEC decided to suspend Panesar and refer his case to the NCC. Having failed to engage in any communication with the party regarding the case, he subsequently resigned from the party. Siddiqi, meanwhile, remains suspended pending an NCC hearing.

 

2.3.3.ii. Assessment

 

The Party believes that Dan Hogan and Sam Matthew’s actions in this case can only be understood as reflecting the influence of factionalism. After being chased by someone who had received Islamophobic abuse, the audio recording of which was submitted to the Party, Hogan and Matthews at first acted appropriately and suspended the perpetrator. After input from local “stakeholders”, however, which seem to have included the council leader and local MPs, all on the Labour right, they reversed that decision and instead suspended the victim – from the party’s left – meaning he was deselected as a council candidate while the person who was recorded making

Islamophobic and abusive comments was able to take his place as CLP Secretary.

 

The party had also failed to investigate complaints from left-wing councillors deselected previously, even though one, Barbara White, made allegations of antisemitism.

 

Some of the allegations collected or submitted against Siddiqi merited investigation – and his case is currently pending an NCC hearing – but the evidence against Panesar was far stronger, and the disparity in the treatment of these two individuals is glaring. There does not appear to be any explanation other than factionalism for this discrepancy, including the failure to progress the case against Panesar at all, and the misleading explanations that Hogan and Matthews provided to the NEC. The fact that Hogan went on long-term sick leave after being asked for a “update in writing… on record” regarding the Panesar case, meanwhile, is concerning.

 

This behaviour is all completely inconsistent with the claim that some former GLU staff have apparently made that they were afraid of taking disciplinary actions that would result in a negative reaction from LOTO or the NEC, or from Jennie Formby or Thomas Gardiner after they started working in HQ. Even in late 2017 and spring 2018, after Jennie Formby and Thomas Gardiner had started, former staff continued to take highly dubious actions on disciplinary matters for their own factional ends.

 

Moreover, they chose to dedicate significant amounts of time and resource to such actions, while – as we shall see – serious complaints of antisemitism were ignored.

 

 

2.3.4. Conclusions

 

Key GLU staff were not “afraid” of LOTO or the NEC. If any guidance, written or unwritten, from LOTO not to act on certain cases had existed, the available evidence strongly indicates that they would not have followed it.

 

On the contrary, key GLU staff continued to engage in factional actions in support of the right of the Labour Party. They did this not only after the 2017 general election, but even after Jennie Formby became General Secretary. They also appear to have chosen to continue to dedicate significant proportions of their time to such work.

 

As will be explored later in the report, the factional activity of GLU and GSO appears to have come at the expense of the work required to improve Labour’s disciplinary procedures, and to make them fit for purpose for a Party of more than half a million members.

 

3. The Governance and Legal Unit’s handling of antisemitism disciplinary cases, 2014 – February

2018

 

3.1. The Governance and Legal Unit’s processes and practices, 2015-16

 

3.1. The Governance and Legal Unit’s processes and practices, 2015-16 173
3.1.1. Summary173
3.1.2. Overview of the disciplinary process176
3.1.3. How GLU operated177
3.1.3.i. Logging complaints and the “Macpherson principle”184
3.1.3.iii. Tracking and acting on cases, 2015-16195
3.1.3.iv. Efforts to improve complaints processes, 2015-16199
3.1.4. Guidance and standards202
3.1.4.i. Andrew Fisher and Emily Benn204
3.1.4.ii. “Cf. Emily Benn”206
3.1.4.iii. Share and retweet guidelines212
3.1.5. Guidance on antisemitism217
3.1.5.i. The Chakrabarti Report218
3.1.5.ii. GLU decision-making on antisemitism, 2014 to March 2018223
3.1.6. Conclusions237

 

 

3.1.1. Summary

 

This section shows that GLU’s disciplinary processes in 2015-2016 were characterised by an almost complete lack of systems, processes, guidance, and training for staff members. There was no system for logging all complaints and GLU did not apply the Macpherson principles of recording all complaints of racism as racism.

 

Before 2015, GLU appears to have only done small amounts of work relating to disciplinary cases. Staff appear to have been accustomed to being subject to little or no scrutiny or oversight from within Labour HQ or externally, and the processes that did exist were equipped to, at best, deal with a small number of cases, very slowly and in an ad hoc manner.

 

This approach allowed for decisions to be influenced by personal responsibilities and political allegiances. For example, after complaints about Rod Liddle over transphobic and Islamophobic comments, GLU proposed suspending him and wrote to LOTO to let them know (as Rod Liddle is a journalist). LOTO agreed with the proposed suspension. However, GLU’s Director then informed the Executive Director of Governance, Membership and Party Services that “apparently Rod Liddle is chummy with Ian Austin & by extension TW [Tom Watson]” and suggested they “sit on it for now” rather than suspend immediately. The Executive Director replied “Ok. I will speak to Ian”, presumably a reference to consulting Ian Austin on a disciplinary case against his friend.

 

GLU often decided to conclude cases through informal solutions, without taking cases to the NEC. For example, they routinely decided that individuals should just be asked to delete their racist or otherwise offensive social media posts and apologise. In other cases they imposed suspensions and then lifted them shortly afterwards. For example, in 2014, before Jeremy Corbyn became leader of the Labour Party, antisemitic comments by a Labour PPC, Vicki Kirby, were uncovered. Kirby was suspended, and therefore removed as a PPC, but GLU lifted Kirby’s suspension a month later with a staff-issued warning, without ever bringing the case to the NEC.

 

In June 2016 the Chakrabarti Report, adopted by the NEC shortly after, offered a range of guidance on the different forms of antisemitism that can manifest on the left, and the kinds of conduct that were unacceptable in the Labour Party. Jeremy Corbyn gave similar, detailed guidance in a speech at the time. However, although these interventions led to some stronger action on antisemitism by GLU, such as acting on usage of the term “Zio”, GLU did not then produce any guidance or arrange any training for staff to direct decision-making on such cases. As a result, GLU staff including Director Stolliday and Head of Disputes Matthews continued to make some inappropriate decisions, failing at times to recognise as antisemitism warranting action a range of different antisemitic materials, from classical antisemitism about the “chosen people” to conspiracy theories about “Zionist” and “Rothschild” control, and even Holocaust revisionism.

 

GLU also changed their policies to provide short-term fixes to political and factional problems and with little thought given to their long-term implications, which had a negative impact on their handling of some extreme cases of antisemitism and Islamophobia.

 

One example of this was the different treatment of Andrew Fisher and Emily Benn. In 2015 GLU suspended Jeremy Corbyn’s adviser Andrew Fisher. When GLU came under pressure for not suspending Emily Benn, who like Fisher was accused of indicating support for another political party, senior staff in GLU emailed each other openly discussing the need to find justifications for not suspending Benn as they had suspended Fisher, with the Executive Director of Governance, Membership and Party Services saying “we need to put to bed this in relation to not suspending her”.

 

This led to GLU creating a policy of not taking action on individuals who like, share or retweet content which breaches the Party’s rules, as opposed to making original comments themselves. Executive Director Emilie Oldknow wrote “we will simply have to hold this line when asked why we haven’t suspended her.”

 

This “line” had consequences for the handling of disciplinary cases over the next two years, however. For example, in April 2016 a member was reported to GLU for sharing Holocaust denial and pro-Hitler materials, but John Stolliday advised to ask if she could delete the posts and apologise, as he didn’t like acting on shared posts.

 

GLU abandoned this policy in 2016 during the “Validation” process, a factional operation which saw thousands of members and supporters suspended or excluded, in some cases solely on the basis or likes or shares, not original comments. GLU then reinstated the policy after the leadership election and continued to cite it in relation to some complaints of antisemitism and Islamophobia, where, in some cases, no action was not taken as a result, with staff saying “we can’t take action on a shared post”.

 

In 2016, the vast majority of the disciplinary work GLU conducted related to the “Validation” operation of suspending or auto-excluding members during the leadership election, mostly on flimsy grounds, in an overtly factional operation. A great deal of work and energy went into this. Work to improve Labour’s disciplinary procedures, however, took place only at an extremely slow pace, and minimal progress was made until spring 2018 when Jennie Formby became general secretary.

 

3.1.2. Overview of the disciplinary process

 

At this time, the Labour Party had a three-step disciplinary process. First, complaints and cases would be handled by Labour staff. Second, they would be brought before the NEC Disputes Committee, which only met four times a year.

 

Disputes could decide to give warnings, or they could refer the case to the National Constitutional Committee (NCC). NEC Disputes could also suspend members pending their NCC hearing, if staff had not already suspended the individual.

 

The NCC is an autonomous, quasi-judicial body which is separate from other Party structures, including the NEC and the Leader’s Office. It was created in the 1980s under Neil Kinnock after a number of members successfully obtained an injunction against their expulsion by the NEC, resulting in expulsion powers being removed from the NEC and the NCC being created instead. As a result, the NCC was the only body with the power to expel members in disciplinary cases.

 

NCC members are elected by delegates at Labour’s Conference and by trade unions and affiliates. They would self-organise their hearings, and hearings would usually take a whole day, and on some occasions took place over several days.

 

The hearings are essentially like trials, with either Party staff or lawyers acting on their behalf, acting as the prosecution, and the panel of three NCC members acting as the judge. Therefore the NEC is a party to the case, and pursues disciplinary charges against the individual member.

 

Within the first 8 weeks of someone’s membership, their membership could be rejected entirely by the General Secretary (in practice, GLU staff) or their Constituency Labour Party (CLP). After that point, GLU staff could “auto-exclude” members for supporting a candidate standing against the Labour Party, or if they had been convicted of a serious criminal offence. But for all other kinds of conduct, neither the NEC or GLU staff could expel Labour members. As Stolliday wrote on 15 March 2016:

 

that is something which is determined by the NCC. We can only suspend & send it to them to determine I’m afraid.[445]

 

3.1.3. How GLU operated

“Easily fudgeable” – John Stolliday on an NCC case

“We just need options depending on what happens and the way the political wind blows.” – Emilie Oldknow on an NCC case

 

At the time Jeremy Corbyn was elected in September 2015, GLU’s work was orientated more towards Internal and External Governance than complaints.

 

GLU centrally would handle “auto-exclusions” of members for supporting rival parties, often done through examining nomination papers or investigating the activities of small far left groups.

 

GLU would also conduct “major investigations”, for example into CLPs. Many of these dragged on for years. In her 2016 report, Shami Chakrabarti wrote:

 

I have had testimony that 4 constituencies in central Birmingham have been subject to [special measures] for up to 23 years (the precise dates are unclear), without regular reconsideration by the NEC, nor the creation of any kind of roadmap for how local member democracy might ever be restored. Further, many in the local party have expressed considerable unease about the way that this broad discretion has been exercised by all white Party staff, and the way that they and their fellow

(majority) Muslim members and voters have felt undermined and even discriminated against as a result.

 

It seems to me that whilst there may have been real concerns about the authenticity of new membership applications some years ago, modern banking and internetbased joining methods ought to make membership fraud easier to identify. Further, large-scale recruitment from minority or any other communities is not to be regarded as suspect per se. Far more worrying, in my view, is the enduring image of hundreds of BAME Labour members in one part of a city being denied democracy and autonomy, with little in the way of procedural protection, and the likely message this sends, whilst a handful of their white neighbours enjoy full membership rights down the road.473

 

Almost all other complaints were handed over to Regions rather than being dealt with by the GLU team, with GLU’s role primarily being to direct complaints downwards to Regions and CLPs and to give suggestions on appropriate courses of action.

 

In April 2016, for example, a complaint was received alleging antisemitic remarks being made at meetings of Riverside CLP, where Louise Ellman, who is Jewish, was the

                                             

473 Chakrabarti Report, https://labour.org.uk/wpcontent/uploads/2017/10/ChakrabartiInquiryReport

30June16.pdf, pp. 25-6

Labour MP. Iain McNicol personally responded to the complainant that “Your complaint should go to the region in the first instance”, copying in regional staff.[446] In December 2017, meanwhile, John Stolliday noted regarding a complaint of antisemitism:

 

This is probably languishing in Disputes inbox.

 

I am trying to prod them towards [a] CLP case but to be honest it’s probably a strong letter from us.[447]

 

At the time, GLU centrally would automatically suspend members when placing them under investigation. As Stolliday later put it, they would “automatically suspend people under investigation”,[448] or, as Sam Matthews later explained, they would always “impose an administrative suspension as the first stage of an investigation”.[449]

 

GLU would therefore either “suspend and investigate” (with the investigation conducted by Region); take no action; or encourage some form of informal resolution, such as deleting posts, apologising or being given a staff-issued warning. In many cases, the preference after “suspend and investigate” – often decided on due to media publicity – was also then a lift of the suspension with an informal resolution or warning, all done by staff without any decision being taken by the NEC Disputes Committee.

 

In relation to these “suspend and investigate” cases, GLU would:

 

  • Agree or sign-off, implement and lift suspensions, often jointly with Regions;
  • Receive and sign-off, or jointly agree, decisions on further action with Regions;
  • And then jointly prepare reports for the NEC and NCC for the (very small) number of cases that were escalated to those stages.[450]

 

As the party was considerably smaller and involved fewer competing factions among the active membership, before 2015-16 the number of cases dealt with by GLU was small. Nevertheless, there was a considerable backlog of such cases to deal with, and many of them had gone years without action.

 

A spreadsheet from May 2015, for example, showed that 51 people were under suspension. Information on the status of the cases was patchy, but the majority pertained to police investigations and criminal offences (Labour would often suspend while police investigations were ongoing).

 

Despite the low number of cases, however, many were waiting years for a resolution. On average, each individual had been suspended for 342 days, while cases that appeared to have no relationship to external investigations (such as police investigations) had actually gone on even longer, with the members being suspended for an average of 399 days.479

 

A member suspended in January 2011 for “inappropriate messages posted on online forums”, for example, had the status “Region trying to interview member”; two cases from May 2013 – two years earlier – had the status “George to take to NCC”; and another member, suspended for “urinating in private garden” eleven months ago, had the status “Region arranging interview”.

 

Selection of suspended Labour Members, 19 May 2015480
Date of suspension Reason as recorded in the spreadsheet Status as recorded in the spreadsheet
13.1.11Inappropriate messages posted on online forumsRegion trying to interview member
23.5.13Attending BLP not his own without invitation or agreement of membersGeorge to take to NCC
23.5.13Attending BLP not his own without invitation or agreement of membersGeorge to take to NCC
17.6.14Urinating in private gardenRegion arranging interview of member
20.8.14Convicted of ABHNCC – Dan to get statement
3.6.13Improper relationship with lobbyistsleave

                                             

  • Pre-2016: “Suspensions as at 19.5.15 Updated by SG.xlsx”
  • Pre-2016: “Suspensions as at 19.5.15 Updated by SG.xlsx”
30.7.13Referred to Standards body for disclosure of confidential informationStandards found the complaint proved.  Region to interview member.
8.7.13Licensing offenceIs involved in variety of matters that are damaging to LP since suspension. Need update
11.9.13NNC suspension until 11.9.15
13.1.11Convicted of dishonestly obtaining

£14,000 of housing benefit

REGION TO INTERVIEW

 

 

The number of cases being dealt with was not large: a “Suspensions Register” folder for 2014 contains 52 suspension letters, accompanied by 22 corresponding suspension lift letters. Moreover, in cases where criminal investigations were ongoing, the member was simply suspended with no accompanying Labour investigation.

 

And yet cases were still dragging on for years. As explored in more detail later, the role of Regions was highly problematic, as regional staff often failed to take forward cases, and GLU did not have a process for managing or tracking the work being undertaken. Clearly, if in May 2015 a Region was still “trying to interview” someone suspended for online posts more than four years ago, this was not a system that was functioning very well.

 

At this time, the NEC Disputes Committee also did not play much of a role in determining action on cases. It met just four times a year, and its function was primarily to wave through cases to the National Constitutional Committee (NCC).

 

The NCC, meanwhile, was constituted like a court, and would hold quasi-judicial proceedings on individual cases, with GLU acting as a prosecutor on behalf of the NEC, and NCC members acting as judges. Hearings would take place in person, could run over several days, and would involve witnesses and other written or oral evidence. This process was designed for dealing with only a very small number of individuals – and slowly.

 

According to Labour’s rulebook, the NCC could issue any sanction it chose, such as punitive time-limited suspensions. GLU-GSO staff themselves noted this: the NCC “had always had the ability to apply intermediate sanctions – such as limiting some rights rather than all rights”.[451] However, at the time GLU’s practice was only to take cases to the NEC and then NCC if they felt it was worth pursuing their expulsion. This was very rarely the case, and instead the preference was almost always to lift their suspension once the dust had settled, sometimes with a warning.

 

As Emilie Oldknow advised in April 2016, for example, there could be “no ‘temporarily’ lifting of administrative suspensions” with a “case” nevertheless continuing:

 

They are either lifted or cases are referred to our National Constitutional Committee for disciplinary action (after going through the NEC Disputes Panel).[452]

 

These processes also appear to have been understood as malleable to the immediate needs of GLU-GSO staff. For example, on being informed in November 2015 that a line in a letter – not yet sent – suspending Andrew Fisher, a senior advisor to Jeremy Corbyn, would mean that, according to Labour’s Rulebook, if the NCC found the charges proven they would have no choice but to expel Fisher, Oldknow responded to Stolliday, Creighton, Buckingham and Jane Shaw (later NCC Secretary):

 

We cannot now change this letter so we will need to ride it out with members of the NCC.

 

And try to fudge later on down the line. We will need a good panel who understand this.

 

We just need options depending on what happens and the way the political wind blows.

 

However, clearly, the NCC will need to do the right thing.

 

John Stolliday responded that he thought it was “easily fudgeable”.483

 

In 2019, commenting on an email in which Jennie Formby raised concerns about the NCC not following proper processes, Iain McNicol said that it “should ring alarm bells across the party” as “To try to interfere politically within the NCC is just wrong.”[453] This view does not seem to have been shared by his key staff in GLU-GSO who worked on such matters.

 

The numbers of cases involved were very low. For example, in October 2014 GLU brought reports on three members (and two party units, such as branches or Labour Groups) to NEC Disputes;[454] in January 2015 four members (and four party units);[455] and in July 2015 seven members (and three party units).[456]

 

A look at expulsions, meanwhile, shows how few cases were being taken through to the NCC. An export from Members’ Centre for all entries with the status of “Expelled”, shows just 5 expulsions between 2011 and 2017, with 3 in 2015 and none at all in 2016.[457]

 

 

Year Expulsions
20110
20120
20131
20141
20153
20160
20172
201810
201949
2020 (up to 3 March 2020)30

 

 

Dealing with complaints was therefore a much smaller part of GLU’s work, and there was a lack of systems, process or guidance for this.

 

This is illustrated by a document Emilie Oldknow sent to LOTO on 7 March 2016, following some controversial cases in the press, providing “an explanation of what the Compliance Unit does for Jeremy and the PLP this evening should it be raised”. The attached 6 page document spoke mainly about work to do with various electoral regulations, along with managing “around 30 Subject Access requests [a] year which take a considerable amount of staff time”. (For comparison: in the final months of 2016 GLU did almost 300 SARs.)[458]

 

About complaints, the document simply said:

 

The Compliance Unit is responsible for the conduct of major investigations, particularly in respect of membership abuse or selection abuse.

 

We are currently carrying out a major review of the Labour Party’s complaints, harassment, and safeguarding policies.[459]

 

Labour’s “Complaints Procedure” document, meanwhile, “A guide for Labour Party Members, Volunteers and Staff”, simply advised that complaints could be dealt with by your CLP, and “more serious complaints” by “your relevant Regional

Director/General Secretary or the Compliance Unit”, and that formal complaints “must be made in writing” by email – to legal_queries@labour.org.uk – or by post.[460]

 

3.1.3.i. Logging complaints and the “Macpherson principle”

“Apparently Rod Liddle is chummy with Ian Austin & by extension [Tom Watson]… so may just sit on it for now” – John Stolliday

 

There was, at the time, no system of logging and recording complaints or decisions.

Staff would simply periodically export the list of currently suspended members from “Members Centre”, and then make notes on those cases, to check their status and/or report to NEC Disputes.[461] Moreover, as Creighton noted in June 2016, “we do not record who may have made the original complaint (unless it is a simple complaint by one person against another)”, and complaints rarely came from “members of the public”.[462]

 

These exports would not include any cases that had been resolved, or that had never progressed to “suspend and investigate”, and nor was there any facility for a “Members Centre” export to include important information like the reason for the suspension, the current status of the investigation, who was conducting the investigation, or staff’s recommendations for action. The information recorded and available was therefore very limited.

 

At no point was the MacPherson principle – which sets out that all complaints reported as an incident of racism should be recorded and investigated as such – applied (and, indeed, there was no system for logging complaints).

 

This was illustrated by a February 2016 enquiry from BBC Newsnight, on the basis of

“Muslim women’s complaints to us”, asking whether “complaints [had] been made to

Ann Black on the NEC and/or Harriet Harman” when she was Deputy Leader of Labour “regarding discrimination of Muslim women trying to become councillors”, and whether “any action” was taken. Stolliday replied:

 

No way of knowing easily. We receive complaints all the time & I expect we have. But selections are a matter for the regional office & [Local Campaign Forum] so we pass back to them.[463]

 

On whether “any action” was taken, Stolliday’s response was simply:

 

Ditto.[464]

 

Complaints of racism or discrimination were not, as a rule, logged and investigated. The suspicion of some on the left was also that GLU operated factionally even in relation to allegations of racism, and generally dismissed complaints against people on the Labour right.

 

For example, on 18 March 2016 Labour received a complaint of “racism in Labour local government”, to Iain McNicol and several members of the NEC. The case concerned councillors in Newham discussing Gypsy and Traveller accommodation, with “deputy mayor Cllr Lester Hudson [joking] that he would like to know the address of the person who “made the objective””, and Mayor Sir Robin Wales continuing that “I think what Lester is saying is that we would be very happy to set up a site right next to their house”. The complainant said:

 

Intolerance and prejudice against Travellers may be an outstanding form acceptable racism in wider society but it cannot be tolerated inside the party. I was not at the meeting reported here and cannot claim to know the accuracy of the report, but I suggest a full investigation needs to take place as soon as possible. Given some understandable logistical delay in view of crucial forthcoming elections, there may be a case for administrative suspension in the interim, as this report is already being circulated, and damaging the Labour Party, on twitter.

 

Shortly after, it was reported that “Gypsies and Travellers from east London have taken their Mayor to task and launched a complaint to the Equalities watchdog over comments made during a Newham Council Cabinet meeting late last week in which councillors were reported to have ‘joked’ about living next to a Traveller site.”[465]

 

Six months later, on 17 August 2016, the complainant chased, having not received any reply, and the email was forwarded on from McNicol’s email address to GLU.

 

The following day Dan Simpson, London Regional Director, responded: “mentioned this to me yesterday. I’m not sure what there is to say on this, there has been a statement of clarification and I think we can leave it there.”[466] No case was created and no further action taken.

 

On 12 December 2016 it was reported that Sir Robin Wales “has formally apologised to Gypsies and Travellers for making comments deemed to be “casual racist banter” at a council meeting”.[467]

 

In April 2016, meanwhile, NEC member James Asser emailed Emilie Oldknow enquiring about journalist Rod Liddle’s comments about Emily Brothers, a trans and blind Labour PPC in 2015, on behalf of trans members who had contacted him.

 

I’ve been getting some inquiries about Rod Liddle from trans members. He has been consistently writing pretty unpleasant columns about the trans community, especially since his jokes about Emily Brothers in The Sun during the general election.

 

There is some concern that he is a Labour member. I would be surprised if he still was, I know he was in the past. Could you check for me to see if he is still a paid up member?

 

John Stolliday responded to Asser telling him that Liddle was a member, and that he (Stolliday) remembered the Emily Brother’s comments as he was a Press Officer that dealt with it at the time. He recalled that they got a “sort of” apology from Liddle. No further action was taken.

 

In May 2016, controversy then erupted over Rod Liddle writing in The Spectator that antisemitism was “absolutely endemic” among “Muslims”. Moreover, he wrote:

 

For many Muslims the anti-Semitism is visceral, an ingrained part of their unpleasant ideology… [based] as much upon envy – at Jewish success, worldwide and in Israel – as anything else. If you handed over Israel to the Palestinians they would turn it into Somalia before you could say Yom Kippur.

 

On 3 May, Stolliday emailed this to Oldknow, asking “Can we suspend him for Islamophobia for this?” The following day he emailed a more formal proposal, referring to both “derogatory remarks about our blind and transgendered PPC Emily Brothers” – “complaints were upheld by IPSO following an investigation” – and the Spectator article:

 

This is prima facie racist and islamophobic language, and I recommend we suspend pending an investigation.

 

Oldknow then sent this to LOTO chief of staff Simon Fletcher, noting that she wanted to send it to him first as Liddle was a journalist:

 

It is my intention to agree with John on this one. He would be suspended under “bringing in the party in to disrepute”.

 

Didn’t want to do anything, because he is a journalist, without you knowing about it first.

 

Can you let me have thoughts please? By close of play today would be helpful.

 

Many thanks and apologies for the short notice…

 

Fletcher replied: “yes, agree.”

 

Two days later, however, on 6 May 2016, Stolliday emailed Oldknow:

 

Apparently Rod Liddle is chummy with Ian Austin & by extension TW [Tom Watson].

 

I still want to do this but we’re not under pressure to do it – so may just sit on it for now

 

Oldknow replied: “Ok. I will speak to Ian”, presumably a reference to Ian Austin.

 

Liddle was suspended a week later, on 12 May 2016. In September 2016 regional staff then sent him questions regarding his case, and he responded by resigning from the party.[468]

 

There were serious, well-evidenced allegations of transphobia and Islamophobia against Liddle, as Stolliday himself had documented. Liddle being “chummy with Ian Austin & by extension [Tom Watson]” should have had no bearing on the disciplinary case, but Stolliday wrote quite openly to Oldknow that he “may just sit on it for now” as a consequence, while Oldknow then apparently spoke to Austin.

 

This illustrates again the informal manner in which decisions were made, including over extreme cases involving protected characteristics and racism, and how senior GLU staff openly allowed factional considerations to influence decisions on disciplinary matters.

 

In November 2016, meanwhile, there was a controversy about Labour MP Jim Fitzpatrick tweeting about the “same old, same old worst of Bengali politics”. Many raised the issue directly with Iain McNicol, the NEC and GLU.

 

On 16 November a local independent councillor Rabina Khan sent a complaint:

 

Please consider this a formal complaint against Mr Fitzpatrick and deal with it according to your regular procedures. This should involve immediately suspending Mr Fitzpatrick pending a thorough investigation… I have no need to explain to you how offensive, prejudiced and disreputable this comment is and I am confident that you will agree that making such comments is not compatible with membership of, or association with, the Labour Party.

 

The complaint was extensive and alleged Fitzpatrick had displayed a pattern of racist behaviour including allegedly calling a local Bengali wedding an “Islamist plot”. It also included the following:

 

Mr Fitzpatrick has for some years sat on the board of an affiliate of the Henry Jackson Society whose director and public face, Douglas Murray, was a decade ahead of Donald Trump in calling for a ban on legal immigration by Muslims. Murray has repeatedly described Islamophobia as a ‘nonsense’ term. Yet when this was drawn to Mr Fitzpatrick’s attention he refused to step down and disassociate himself with remarks represented by this group.

 

On 21 November 2016, McNicol responded, as drafted by Stolliday:

 

The Labour Party takes any allegation of prejudice or abuse with the utmost seriousness. 

 

Mr Fitzpatrick has a long and proud career serving his constituents of all faiths and backgrounds, and is a respected member of the Parliamentary Labour Party.  

 

The Labour Party will investigate disputes between members of the Labour Party and allegations of potential breaches of the Labour Party’s rules. 

 

However as you are not a member of the Labour Party but a political opponent to Mr Fitzpatrick and the Labour Party, and you have notified us of your intention to release your letter to the press, we shall pass on your complaint to Mr Fitzpatrick and although you are not his constituent, I am sure he would welcome the opportunity to respond to you directly.[469]

 

There is nothing in the Labour Party’s rules which state that individuals who are not members of the party cannot submit complaints to Labour. It’s unclear why Iain McNicol cites this as the reason for not investigating a complaint of alleged racism by an MP. Many of the complaints which are currently investigated by the Party are submitted by individuals who are not members and to not investigate them on that basis would entail turning a blind eye to prejudice and discrimination.

 

In response to NEC member Christine Shawcroft raising the case, McNicol similarly wrote on 21 November 2016:

 

This is a matter for Jim Fitzpatrick, who has a long and proud career serving his constituents of all faiths and backgrounds. I’m sure he will respond to any constituent who feels his remarks were inappropriate.[470]

 

On 27 November 2016, meanwhile, Puru Miah, a Labour member in Tower Hamlets, also complained:

 

As BAME Labour Party member and someone of Bangldeshi heritage I find the tweet offensive and hold it to be a racist incident. I am personally disappointed in both you Chris and Tarik, for not acting on the matter and seeing the danger it poses in polarizing Labour Party members, and the electorate at large. Tower Hamlets Labour Party has a history of not dealing with matters that are racially sensitive and I thought collectively we have all put behind such unwholesome history. 

 

I also want to express my disappointment in Mayor John Biggs, who has failed to distance himself nor condemn the racist incident in the strongest terms. Immediately after the incident I did text Cllr David Edgar to forward a message from me to Mayor John Biggs, expressing my disappointment in him and his ‘supporters’. To this day I have not had a reply from Mayor John Biggs, nor seen any public pronouncement by him on the racist incident. 

 

The above inaction is contrary to the Shami Chakrabarti Inquiry, published on the

30th June 2016, and subsequently adopted unanimously by the Labour Party National Executive Committee (NEC). Chakrabarti’s report makes clear that “abusive references to any particular person or group based on actual or perceived physical characteristics and racial or religious tropes and stereotypes, should have no place in Labour party discourse.”

 

As per Mc Pherson principles adopted by our leader Jeremy Corbyn, I ask you both to put in place the mechanism to immediately suspend and investigate Jim. The findings of the investigation should be published, allowing thorough transparency in the process. I have canvassed in my local ward and BAME members of the electorate are thoroughly upset with our party and see it institutionally incapable of dealing with racism among its ranks.

 

The complaint was forwarded to the national party and London Region. Stolliday proposed a reply from McNicol, which the Regional Director Dan Simpson agreed with:

 

Thank you for copying me into your email to Tower Hamlets Labour Party. The Labour Party takes any allegation of prejudice or abuse with the utmost seriousness, and this matter has already been raised by others with Jim Fitzpatrick directly. 

 

Mr Fitzpatrick has a long and proud career serving his constituents of all faiths and backgrounds, and is a widely respected member of the Parliamentary Labour Party.[471]

 

This response was also given to other complainants.

 

Despite this being reported as a racist incident, and one complainant specifically asking that his complaint be investigated in accordance with the MacPherson principle, no case was created, no investigation launched and no action taken.

 

 

 

3.1.3.ii. Informal practices and informal solutions

 “[Can we] now lift [the] suspension with a warning?”

 

In this period, complaints and disciplinary cases were handled very informally by GLU and GSO, without reference to any agreed standards, guidance or processes. Moreover, in 2015-16 GLU’s preference was for the vast majority of cases to be resolved informally, with, for example, apologies and/or warnings. If a case was not deemed serious enough for expulsion – which, as the number of expulsions demonstrate, was rare – GLU preferred it be dealt with in this informal manner.

 

Initially, the NEC would simply pass on decisions to the NCC, and it was not viewed as an intermediary stage that would make decisions. This was just the practice at that time, however, and the NEC did have the power to issue warnings, as it did for one antisemitism-related case in July 2016, for example.

 

By mid-2016, GLU was drafting guidelines for disciplinary procedures that would include other actions by the NEC, including issuing warnings. However, it was not until January 2018 that GLU brought any other cases to the NEC that it advocated issuing a warning for. In 2016 few cases were brought to the NEC, and GLU’s preference, when cases were actually being dealt with, remained informal resolution.

 

The 2014 case of Vicky Kirby, widely publicised in 2016, illustrates GLU’s approach.

 

In September 2014, the Sunday Times enquired about allegations of antisemitic tweets by Kirby, then Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Woking. An email chain was started with a range of senior Labour HQ and Regional staff, with LOTO’s deputy chief of staff cc-ed in. There was a consensus on the need to suspend Kirby, which Oldknow then signed off for Creighton on behalf of GSO. A month later, however, following Kirby’s resignation as PPC for Woking, Creighton approved lifting the suspension with a staff-issued “NEC warning”, without any further investigation. As he later recalled, “At that time we made a political decision to suspend as that was the simplest way of sacking a PPC.”[472]

 

On 14 March 2016 the Jewish Chronicle (and Johanna Baxter who later became an NEC member) enquired about the Kirby case and her continuing involvement in the party. In response to public criticism of GLU’s inaction, including from Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, Oldknow suggested they just “expel and then deal with it”.[473] This was not legally possible under Labour’s rules – only the NCC had the power to expel. Senior staff were initially confused as to whether the decision on an “NEC Warning” had been taken by NEC Disputes Committee or not. The decision had been taken by staff, not by the NEC, and Creighton at first insisted that “There is no rule which allows for simply turning over a decision from two years ago”, and that he could not reverse his own decision. This was not the case. Staff could have taken Kirby’s case to the NEC Disputes Committee, as they had not done this in 2014, and they could have suspended Kirby pending that process.

 

Creighton advised that:

 

I think the only action which could be taken would be to prepare a case for the NCC of bringing the Party into disrepute. If she gets decent legal advice that may be tricky.[474]

 

Stolliday then decided “I’ll suspend her, investigate the claims and send the case to the NCC to decide”.[475]

 

Kirby was suspended. No further action was then taken on the case for eleven months, until February 2017, when she was contacted with questions regarding the tweets.[476]

 

Another illustrative example of the informal manner in which complaints were processed was a complaint received on 1 May 2016. This concerned a small SNP poster inside the window of someone’s house, on which someone had written “cunt”, “liar” and “hypocrite” with arrows pointing at Nicola Sturgeon. The General Secretary of Scottish Labour Brian Roy, suspecting it “will be printed in the Standard on eve of Poll”, identified the family of three Labour members that lived at that address, and asked “Can we suspend immediately pending investigation?”[477] GLU staff member Jane Shaw noted that “Thomas Mabon is only 15, and I think it might look worse if we suspend him (technically a child) than if we don’t suspend at all re this incident.” Stolliday agreed, and continued:

 

Brian – I’m happy for these 2 to be suspended if that’s what you want. You will need to do the investigation etc so it’s more on you than me. Let me know if that’s what you want.[478]

 

The two members, Peter Mabon and Elizabeth Bennie, were then suspended. By the end of June, Scottish Labour staff had interviewed Mahon:

 

Peter began by stating that he was embarrassed that this incident occurred. He is a long-standing, committed activist who recognises that it is not acceptable to display offensive material.

 

Mabon said he thought that his former partner, Bennie, was responsible for the poster. On the basis that he had not removed it when first alerted, however, Scottish Labour suggested to GLU that “a formal disciplinary hearing be brought against [him]”. Head of Disputes Kat Buckingham, however, responded asking if “we can now lift [the] suspension with a warning?”, to which Roy replied “A very stern warning if possible for Peter Mabon”. They had also been “unable to contact Elizabeth Bennie as she no longer lives at the address given on membership”, so Roy added “That would therefore mean reinstating Elizabeth Bennie if we are accepting Peter Mabon was to blame.”[479]

 

Mabon and Bennie’s suspensions were then lifted by staff – the case was not taken to the NEC. None of this was recorded on “Members Centre” as intended, however, and at the end of July, Roy also raised that “the incorrect letter” had been sent to Mabon, without a warning.[480]

 

This case further illustrates the informal manner in which cases were handled and decisions made, with a proposal to suspend three people being issued simply on the basis of their residency and a fear of media coverage, followed by the lifting of their suspensions two months later. The lifting of these suspensions did not take place following a decision by NEC Disputes Committee giving a sanction or deciding there wasn’t a case to answer. The suspensions were lifted by staff.

 

This was, indeed, how all cases were treated, including antisemitism caes: if they were not deemed serious enough to merit expulsion, they would be settled informally. On 12 September 2016, for example, a regional official requested guidance from Stolliday on conducting interviews for two councillors, Salima Mulla and Shah Hussain, suspended for social media comments in May 2016:

 

If they are prepared to accept that the comments are unacceptable, apologise and accept a warning that would be the end of the matter?

 

Stolliday responded:

 

Yes – normal interview – present the evidence, ask if they posted those things, and why, and how they feel about it now. If they clearly express contrition & understanding it was insensitive/wrong, then recommend they are let back in. If they stand by it all and can’t see what the problem is, then recommendation could be for further action.[481]

 

Salim Mulla, the case evidence for which Stolliday attached, was a former mayor of Blackburn suspended in May 2016 after his recent Facebook posts received publicity, which said that Israel was behind school shootings like Sandy Hook in America and ISIS, and writing that “Zionist Jews are a disgrace to humanity”.[482]

 

Shah Hussain, meanwhile, was a Burnley councillor suspended at the same time for writing to an Israeli footballer “you and your country [are] doing the same thing that hitler did to ur race in ww2”. At the time of his suspension, Hussain had publicly defended himself by saying “If Jewish people find it offensive then I think they need to think about what the rest of the world thinks. I wanted him to reflect on what Hitler did to the Jewish people, and then I wanted him to reflect on that and to see what’s happening in Palestine, can it be seen as the same?”[483]

 

GLU’s general practice was to opt for an informal resolution, if a case was not deemed to meet their extremely high bar for taking through the NCC for expulsion. Suspensions were often initiated for other reasons, such as to deal with disputes in CLPs or because of media publicity, and staff would often lift their suspensions at a later date, rather than bringing cases to the NEC for them to take decisions in line with the rules.

 

 

3.1.3.iii. Tracking and acting on cases, 2015-16

“Not quite up to date”

“Please let me know if you need a more full list, it just will take more than the evening to put together”

 

With the huge growth in membership over the summer of 2015, there was some recognition of the need to develop at least a rudimentary system for tracking complaints cases and the associated work.

 

On 2 December 2015 Mike Creighton emailed the team on “Complaints Procedure”:

 

In order to tighten up our complaints procedure – partly in the light of the Tory press coverage, but more importantly to get it right – we are adopting a new procedure for logging and reviewing all incoming complaints.[484]

 

This related to “behavioural complaints – bullying, harassment and so on”, and Creighton outlined a new process that involved:

 

  • Informing Compliance Administrator Sophie Goodyear of cases so she could maintain a “complaints log” and “new electronic archival system”.
  • Cc-ing a new, internal “Complaints” email address “so that we can ensure all relevant emails are collected into one email box.”
  • Monthly reports of the“complaints log” to the chair of NEC Disputes.
  • Team reviews of “all cases at monthly meetings to make sure nothing is being missed”.[485]

 

These proposed practices do not appear to have been implemented or maintained, however.

 

In order to get a list of ongoing cases, staff would continue to export current suspensions from Members Centre, and then add some information to the resulting spreadsheet. For example, on 3 May 2016, when asked for “the list of investigations please and what is outstanding”, Buckingham replied that “The list needs to be updated as I’ve not done a new one since last Disputes” in March 2016, and she would “ask Sophie [Goodyear] to get me a new one off membercentre (she and Jane [Shaw] had a special trick to get it to produce the right info that I need to learn)”.[486] Staff would then add some basic information to additional columns on that spreadsheet.[487] As these involved manual processes, inaccurate or incomplete information was often distributed. For example, on 9 June 2016 Creighton shared a list of antisemitism suspensions, totalling just 19, noting this was “Not quite up to date”.[488]

 

On 9 June 2016, it appears the team realised they had lost their current cases spreadsheet – “I can’t seem to locate it the disciplinary folder or in the disputes folder and I can’t think where else it would be!”

 

I think Jane has assumed that Kat has the latter list saved somewhere on our drive but I cannot locate it, so that may take a bit of time to put together. I have attached a basic list in case that is what you need, but please let me know if you need a more full list, it just will take more than the evening to put together.[489]

 

Instead, they appear to have worked on a new spreadsheet.[490] On 28 June 2016 Buckingham shared with new employee Sam Matthews “the list I am working on”. She noted the status of each region, and the extent to which each was “in control”:

 

Dan will be in contact with me tomorrow about the long London list. You are working with Gordon on the East Mids list. Scotland seem to be in control, East are in control. Fiona needs a list of her current – could you send one to her please?[491]

 

Attached was a spreadsheet of 101 suspensions, with columns, mostly filled in, for

“Reason”, “Progress” – and now also a sparse “to do” column.[492] The broad category of “Offensive comments on social media” was used – the MacPherson principle of specifically identifying complaints that concerned racism was not applied, nor any categorisation that could provide a breakdown without manual review of the evidence.

 

In spring 2016, there were increasing incidents of people being reported in the press as Labour members who had engaged in antisemitism, and increasing complaints about other other types of conduct, and the number of people being suspended began to rise. Regions, as before, proved ineffective at progressing cases and GLU ineffective at managing them. This was, indeed, a perennial problem until Regions’ roles in handling cases relating to protected characteristics was abolished in 2018.

 

As Creighton reported on 9 June 2016, for example, investigating officers working on current suspension cases were “mainly regional staff whose main priorities are now relating to the referendum”, so he was “not certain how many will be completed” by the following month, and “wouldn’t be able to give… any information” about likely outcomes.[493]

 

Therefore, only a few of the old or new cases were actually being dealt with and, consequently, already before the 2016 leadership election, GLU had a considerable backlog of cases to resolve. Already on 3 May 2016, Oldknow was expressing concern about suspensions “which are outstanding – and have been for some time”, noting that “Justice delayed is justice denied….” (Buckingham responded that “I will start pushing regions on these next week”[494] – and it is telling that, the following month, she was commenting on the extent to which each Region was “in control” of its complaints.)[495]

 

On 12 May 2016, GLU listed 95 people currently suspended:

 

  • 53 from 2016 so far
  • 26 from 2015
  • 9 from 2014
  • and 8 from 2010-13.[496]

 

By 28 June 2016 this had grown further to 101 Labour members currently suspended,[497] but for the July 2016 NEC Disputes panel GLU provided reports on just six cases and two party units. Prior to the meeting some other cases had been brought to a close through staff decisions to lift suspensions.[498][499] In October 2016, however, Labour still had 75 members suspended from before that year’s leadership election, about 20 of which appear to have related to antisemitism.530

 

If GLU had decided in autumn 2016 to progress those 20 antisemitism cases and take them to the next NEC Disputes meetings, at the rate at which this work actually unfolded, it could have taken a year for the NEC to hear those cases. If half of those cases had been referred to the NCC, the NCC would not have finished going through them until the end of 2018.

 

However GLU did not take those 20 antisemitism cases to the next meetings of the

NEC Disputes Committee. Instead, when the 2016 leadership election took place, GLU launched a process which saw the number of suspended members increase, in the space of three months, more than tenfold. This factional operation was prioritised over outstanding antisemitism cases, and further clogged up the disciplinary system.

 

 

3.1.3.iv. Efforts to improve complaints processes, 2015-16

“I don’t think we need to throw the baby out with the bathwater – a lot of what we have is sound. But the structure of our reporting systems and training needs wholesale change.”

 

Although Creighton’s proposed practices from December 2015 do not appear to have been implemented or maintained, a review of complaints processes was initiated, led by Kat Buckingham. However, this progressed very slowly, and at times in the wrong direction.

 

On 5 April 2016 Oldknow emailed Buckingham “Can you let me know where we are with the complaints procedure and what the timescale is?”, noting the particular issue of “women not coming forward with complaints – and also the issue of positions of power/authority.” Buckingham outlined a plan to finish a draft that week, then take two to three months to “hash it out between us” and have it checked externally, followed by consideration of “subsequent rule changes” and bringing the proposal to the NEC in July.[500]

 

On 11 April 2016 Buckingham then emailed with her proposal:

 

I don’t think we need to throw the baby out with the bathwater – a lot of what we have is sound. But the structure of our reporting systems and training needs wholesale change.

 

The attached document noted that “The current complaints procedure is ill-publicised and could be off-putting for members”, and:

 

It is proposed that the Party’s complaints procedure changes in two fundamental ways. Firstly, that there should exist a national network of [voluntary] ‘pastoral care’ members. Secondly, that it is made explicit at all levels of the organisation that the Party does not tolerate abusive or harassing behaviour.

 

It also suggested that “All complaints will be logged, and decisions regarding investigations will also be logged.”[501] In subsequent discussion, Creighton “favoured a national single point of contact approach, which could involve having a few of the inbound callers trained to pick up a specific complaints phoneline and email address.” Buckingham developed a new draft, in which her proposed “pastoral care” volunteers were not decision makers as they had been in her first draft and were instead “more simply complainant advisors”. She noted:

 

We also need to change our procedure on the reporting complaints, to achieve:

  • A visible, single point of contact for complaints, so that it is clear where complainants can turn.

  • Consistency of complaints referral, so that sensitive matters are passed to Compliance and that local matters are sent to CLPs.
  • National logging of complaints, so that patterns of behaviour can be recorded.
  • Training for complaints handlers, investigators, and training and support for CLPs.[502]

 

Buckingham outlined a number of options to manage this, including “pastoral care” volunteers, a network of regional volunteers, or training a few people in Labour’s call centre. Whatever system was used, it was suggested that a single staff member would oversee their work.[503]

 

Creighton responded that – although “I’m not opposed to pastoral officers/lay people giving advice to complainants per se” – “from a complainants point of view they don’t want a list of people – they want a single number, a single, email, a single postal address”, and this, and procedures for complaints, was the “critical” thing to address.[504]

 

Two months later, on 21 June 2016, Creighton then sent Oldknow and others “two VERY PRELIMINARY drafts of our thoughts in respect of complaints and disputes procedures”, including a new version of Buckingham’s paper. It suggested that “Complaints should come to a single named officer (a Complaints Liaison Officer)”, sitting outside the Governance and Legal Unit, who would “log the complaint and filter it to the correct avenue” and also “monitor and ensure that all complaints are handled within agreed time limits”. Every region would have one “Regional Liaison Officer” – “one named person to deal with complaints”, who would be the “visible point of contact for members who have an issue they would like to address”. The “Complaints Liaison Officer” would distribute complaints to CLPs, the General Secretary if about staff, or a “Regional Liaison Officer”.[505]

 

However, progress on these proposals remained slow.

 

In July 2016, as in the 2015 leadership election, a special “Validation” email address was advertised for all complaints regarding people’s validity in participating in the election. On 25 November 2016 a new process was then agreed, of complaints being forwarded from “Legal Queries” to a new “Disputes” inbox for action. However, as explored later, it was not until spring 2018, a year and a half later, that that process began to actually be operated.

 

 

3.1.4. Guidance and standards

“We will simply have to hold this line when asked why we haven’t suspended her.”

 

The main form of antisemitism complaint the party has received from 2015 onwards has related to conduct on social media. This includes a range of different types of conduct and a spectrum of severity, from explicit hatred of Jews, to conspiratorial language about “Zionists”, to insensitive language about Jewish organisations and Jewish party members.

 

GLU, however, failed to develop any effective guidance for staff on how to deal with such cases.

 

Social media conduct that has been reported to the party since 2015 ranges from:

 

  • “Liking” a Facebook page
  • “Liking” a post, comment or tweet
  • Retweeting a tweet
  • Sharing a post on Facebook
  • Tweeting an article or image on Twitter
  • Retweeting, sharing or tweeting content with additional comment, expressing agreement
  • Authoring an original post, comment or tweet

 

The above are ordered roughly in order of severity – writing something oneself, for example, is clearly greater evidence of a person’s beliefs than simply having “liked” a Facebook page that has expressed certain views, given that people commonly “like” Facebook pages for interest without necessarily endorsing, or even seeing, most of their content.

 

Our current guidelines to staff note this hierarchy, but urge cases to be considered on a case-by-case basis, and note the importance of judging patterns of behaviour and repeat behaviour, as well as the extremity of the evidence. Thus, for example, it is worth taking into account that some people “like” all comments friends post on their walls, and some people will “like” a comment when they agree with part of it, possibly without even reading the entire comment. However, repeatedly liking offensive posts demonstrates a pattern of behaviour, and even liking a single comment could, on its own, be grounds for suspension or investigation, depending on the comment and the context. There are no blanket rules, and it is critical to judge the context and the pattern of behaviour of the individual in question. (We now also conduct additional social media investigations, beyond just the evidence submitted, to help establish this.)

 

In 2015, however, the party lacked any guidance on how to judge different types of social media activity. The informal practices it then adopted:

 

  • Were motivated, it seems, at least partly to justify a factional decision by GLU;
  • Were inconsistently applied, partly due to the fact they were never developed beyond a sentence or two of explanation;
  • Were poorly thought through and, in fact, highly illogical.

 

During the 2015 leadership election, GLU’s “vetting” of new members and supporters – their “Trot hunt” – flagged people simply for having “liked” a Facebook page, or having retweeted the Green Party on an issue they agreed with.

 

On 12 August 2015, NEC member Alice Perry expressed her concern about some of the people GLU had flagged:

 

Caroline King – her Facebook likes are fine, very similar to lots of members of the Labour Party. We can’t block people just because they like the people’s assembly and UK uncut. I wouldn’t consider these to be far left either (and I’ve spent the last few weeks looking at proper far left left unity/TUSC tweets and blogs)[506]

 

Fellow NEC member Jim Kennedy, from Unite, followed up:

 

I am happy to support Alice’s comments. Just to reiterate what was agreed today at the Leadership Procedure Committee, in terms of retweet references, these must only be forwarded to the scrutiny panel if they contain a substantive matter for us to consider, a simple retweet of a Green Party issue for example is not enough for excluding and is frankly a waste of everyone’s time.[507]

 

Creighton responded that he would produce some guidelines to help, and also to “make it a bit more streamlined”.[508] On 13 August 2015 Creighton shared these, outlining three different categories of offenses. “Posting or re-posting grossly offensive or abusive material” and people who “recently self-declare through whatever media that they do not share our aims and values” would be in Category 1, “reported to the panel for confirmation”, while “A single retweet (or similar) of a policy statement of another party” would fall into Category 3, not to be reported to the panel.[509]

 

People were, however, still rejected as members or supporters in 2015 for retweets, including single retweets. A 21 August 2015 list of 238 rejected members, for example, included someone who “Retweeted Class War”; “Retweets the [National Health Action] party and appears to have been a supporter of them”’; someone with a “Pattern of retweeting Green Party material and expressing support”; and someone who retweeted a Mark Thomas tweet saying “Dear Labour… get fucked” after their abstention on a welfare bill, which was opposed by many Labour members. It also included members rejected with the note “green party supporter -likes on facebook”, and “likes a lotta greens on FB”.[510]

 

Just six weeks after Jeremy Corbyn’s election as leader of the Labour Party, in early November 2016, a variation of Creighton’s policy on social media shares would then be cited to justify why GLU suspended a member of Corbyn’s own staff team, but declined to act against a figure from the right.

 

3.1.4.i. Andrew Fisher and Emily Benn

“We need to put to bed this in relation to not suspending her”

 

In early November 2015 GLU suspended Andrew Fisher, a key advisor in Jeremy Corbyn’s office who subsequently became Executive Director of Policy. Described at the time in The Guardian as a “highly unorthodox move illustrating a rift between the party’s leader and its HQ bureaucracy”, the “most prominent complaint” about Fisher had come from Emily Benn, the party’s PPC for Croydon South in the 2015 election, over a tweet from Fisher fourteen months previously seeming to support a candidate of anarchist group “Class War” over her.[511] In mid-November GLU interviewed Fisher, who maintained the tweet was sarcastic. GLU then suggested he be referred to the NCC for a full hearing (in contrast to Vicki Kirby, for example, who was simply issued a warning). The NEC Disputes Committee, however, subsequently opted to end the case with a warning.

 

At the same time, however, GLU declined to act on complaints about Emily Benn herself, who just a month earlier had retweeted and posted on Facebook a tweet saying that “Anyone disappointed by Corbyn’s male dominated line-up should consider joining the Women’s Equality Party [WEP]”, along with another retweet of WEP in mid-October 2015.[512] GLU received complaints about this, including from several NEC members, but chose not to investigate as they had investigated Fisher.[513]

 

On 6 November 2015, as criticism mounted, Oldknow wrote:

 

We are going to have to get some specifics on the Emily Benn tweet and quick.

 

We need to put to bed this in relation to not suspending her.[514]  

 

Stolliday maintained that the post may have been from “some over-enthusiastic local volunteer running [the account] on her behalf”, and suggested that “next week we write to Emily asking her to clarify that point.”[515] He added that he thought the cases were also “entirely different” as “I think it’s highly dubious to assume that retweeting or posting something from somebody else implies an endorsement” (despite the fact that GLU had, just recently, been excluding people on that basis). Oldknow agreed but argued that “we aren’t dealing with sane people here” – although complaints had come from numerous Labour members, and members of Labour’s governing NEC.[516]

 

They also discussed whether they had excluded people in the autumn over support for the Women’s Equality Party. Creighton incorrectly said “No I don’t think so”, and that “Simple retweets didn’t rule you out – unless it was particularly offensive”, although he did acknowledge “There was also some inconsistency between the panels, and the panels themselves changed tack slightly as time went by – becoming a little more relaxed over time”.[517] (They had, in fact, rejected members for individual retweets critical of Labour, and at least one member for declaring membership of WEP.)[518]

 

On 12 November, Iain McNicol then wrote to Benn: “In order to help me consider whether a formal investigation is required in this matter I would be grateful if you could answer the following questions” about the tweets.[519] We are not aware of anyone else in this period being sent questions from the General Secretary prior to an investigation by GLU, to ascertain if an investigation was necessary, and this opportunity was not offered to Andrew Fisher, even though Fisher had already clarified and apologised for his tweet before his suspension was issued.[520]

 

On 14 November, Benn replied arguing that “Retweeting does not imply endorsement of the original tweet”.[521] Oldknow noted to GLU-GSO:

 

This isn’t the most helpful of responses. I can only gather from this that she did retweet the posting herself.

 

We will simply have to hold this line when asked why we haven’t suspended her.

 

We need some examples of other, high profile people, who have retweeted something controversial which we haven’t taken action against.

 

Should also say that we judge each case on it’s own merits and [Andrew Fisher] actively tweeted himself and urged people to support another party.[522]

 

Rather than applying a pre-existing set of rules that apply equally to all Labour members, it appears that Oldknow was looking for justifications for “holding [their] line” on not suspending Benn.

 

On 16 November, Creighton then forwarded Jim Kennedy’s email on retweets from that August, saying “I think [Emily Benn] response was fine given this.” Oldknow responded: “I hadn’t seen this. Brilliant!”,[523] and forwarded it to McNicol for use “in case Jim has a meltdown over [Emily Benn] stuff”.[524]

 

3.1.4.ii. “Cf. Emily Benn”

“It’s horrific, nasty stuff & not in any way acceptable. However don’t we treat “sharing” content on Facebook in the same way as a retweet on Twitter? (cf Emily Benn)”

 

GLU’s policy towards retweets and shares had evolved to meet the need of justifying a decision, already taken – not to act against Emily Benn. This inaction then seems to have been justified internally by the idea that to act they needed “actual comments or posts from [a] person, rather than sharing other people’s content”, and shares and retweets were not alone grounds for action (although this was contrary to, for example, Creighton’s August 2015 guidance to the NEC that “Posting or re-posting grossly offensive or abusive material” would be in Category 1, “reported to the panel for confirmation”).[525]

 

Stolliday and other GLU staff would go on to make repeated references to the Emily Benn case when discussing approaches to shares and retweets, as if it was an established precedent.[526] However, this apparent policy was never elaborated, and nor was it consistently applied, as numerous suspensions took place for social media shares and retweets in 2016, even before the 2016 leadership election. It was also extremely poorly thought out, and led to some appalling errors of judgement on cases, including cases involving antisemitism.

 

For example, in February 2016 the party received a bundle of “about 150 pages” of Facebook posts by a Labour councillor Alec Henstock. Jane Shaw forwarded twenty of these posts to GLU. Later summarised by Regional staff as “posts by Britain First and UKIP, and posts which could be considered racist, sexist and not consistent with Labour Party values”, they included a range of openly racist, Islamophobic and antiimmigrant content, including a meme from far right group Pegida saying Britain should “BAN the burqa on security grounds” and an image of a train overflowing with BAME people, described as the Eurostar arriving at St Pancras, with the text “Don’t blame me, I voted UKIP!”[527]

 

Stolliday responded:

 

It’s horrific, nasty stuff & not in any way acceptable. 

 

However don’t we treat “sharing” content on Facebook in the same way as a retweet on Twitter? (cf Emily Benn) If so I’d think it’s hard to suspend, unless within the greater bundle there are actual comments or posts from this person, rather than sharing other people’s content. 

 

If we can make the argument that this is different to a retweet for X reason, and that therefore we should suspend, then great.[528]

 

Stolliday did not seem to distinguish between retweeting and sharing one item expressing support for another political party, and sharing twenty pieces of

Islamophobic, racist and sexist content, and it apparently did not occur him to “make the argument” that this was the difference from the Emily Benn case. GLU’s informal policy seems to have become that they could not take any action on shares at all, unless, as Stolliday put it, “there there are actual comments or posts from this person, rather than sharing other people’s content.”[529]

 

Subsequently informed that Region had interviewed Henstock, and he had refused to apologise, Creighton asked:

 

What does the region want us to do?

 

I would be happy to suspend given he has endorsed the stuff, but I think we can take advice from region on this one.[530]

 

This discussion of a “potential suspension” ended there, however, and no further action was taken or case initiate, and it appears that the case, which existed as an email exchange alone and was not logged anywhere, was forgotten by GLU.

 

Henstock remained a full member until autumn 2018, when he was auto-excluded for supporting an “independent (ex UKIP)” candidate against Labour.[531]

 

In a similar incident involving both Islamophobia and antisemitism, in April 2016 a CLP

Secretary contacted Region regarding a local member, Fleur Dunbar, who the CLP Executive believed needed to be expelled. They noted with concern that Dunbar had recently been elected CLP Political Education officer, and attached screenshots of forty Facebook posts of hers displaying a range of Islamophobic, antisemitic and far right content, including:

 

  • a “Britain First” meme saying that Britain should “BAN the burqa on security grounds”.
  • claims that “Rothschilds” were behind the killing of Gaddafi.
  • a meme saying ISIS was “created to protect the Zionist entity”.

 

Regional Director Fiona Stanton forwarded this to Creighton, with Stolliday and Oldknow in cc, noting “I think they are very concerning… I’ve not gone back to the CLP yet as looks quite clearly like a suspension issue”. Creighton, however, advised that CLPs should deal with these issues themselves, despite Stanton asking “Is it not a clear cut suspension given the views expressed in the postings and the wider issues about anti-semitism?”. Oldknow noted, in response to a private appeal for help from Stanton:

 

It is a tricky one. We are under some pressure nationally around ‘suspensions’ for simple facebook likes and we have argued against suspending someone (Emily Benn) for sharing a Facebook article about Women’s Equality Party. That is, sharing doesn’t mean endorsement – it means debate.

 

I think the bigger issue is what she has said about Jewish people and pork but I am not sure we can suspend over this and therefore, suggest the local party interview her about the comments and see what she says.[532]

 

Staff, again, did not seem to appreciate the difference between one retweet or share, and sharing forty pieces of Islamophobic and antisemitic content. The CLP was then advised to deal with the case themselves.

 

On 3 May 2016, however, the CLP contacted Stanton again, noting that Dunbar’s Facebook now carried two recent posts of overt Holocaust denial and rebuttal of “Lies about Hitler”, which asserted that:

 

  • The Holocaust did not happen and 6 million Jews were “all… well fed”.
  • Hitler put Jews in camps “because they stabbed Germany in the back”.
  • It was Jews, not Nazis, who believed they were a superior race.[533]

 

Stanton asked if suspension was now possible, but despite the extremely antisemitic content in the posts, Stolliday responded:

 

This is horrid. I don’t like acting on material that is just “shared” as it doesn’t necessarily imply endorsement.

 

Could she be asked to delete and apologise, and if she equivocates in any way then we’ll suspend.

 

Stanton then called the member and reported back that she would not apologise –

“Can we suspend please?” – with which Stolliday finally agreed.[534]

 

Again, a rigid policy of “shares not meaning endorsement” was applied, based on the supposed Emily Benn precedent, which gave no consideration of the extremity of the materials or the clear patterns of behaviour displayed by the individuals sharing them.

 

On 3 June 2016, meanwhile, London Regional Director Dan Simpson, suggested to Stolliday that:

 

Given the various cases that have emerged since, and the policy pursued of not taking action against people simply for sharing content, it would seem that we should reinstate [a suspended councillor] for the sake of consistency.

 

Stolliday agreed, although the case had related to antisemitic comments as well as shares, and had already received media publicity, and in July 2016 the councillor’s suspension was lifted.[535]

 

During the 2016 “Validation” process, by contrast, GLU again proposed action even on individual retweets, with large numbers of people being suspended or excluded for things the Head of NEC Disputes, Ann Black, later described as “frivolous”.[536] In response to a request for guidance from the NEC, on 15 August 2016 Buckingham had provided brief “Validation Guidelines” which noted, for example:

 

Social media comments should be considered in context. For example, someone may ‘retweet’ an abusive statement and mean to perpetuate the abuse, whilst other are less clearly designed to spread the abuse, but may be to comment on another part of the tweet. These need to be considered on a case-by-case basis.[537]

 

This guidance was different from the pre-existing GLU policy of not acting on retweets or shares. However, like Creighton’s August 2015 guidance, this more nuanced and sensible guidance was not built into any written GLU guidance thereafter, which indeed did not exist. Instead, on 1 September 2016 Stolliday again commented that he was “uncomfortable suspending anyone based on sharing, retweeting or liking material” (although GLU was then doing precisely that, at a large scale).[538]

 

In summary, in 2015-16 GLU created a policy of not suspending on the basis of likes or retweets / shares for the purpose of justifying not taking the same action against Emily Benn – their factional ally – that they took against Andrew Fisher – their factional opponent. GLU appear to have adopted this new policy without any mandate from Labour’s democratic structures, and as a consequence of it they decided not to act on some extreme cases of antisemitism, Islamophobia and other forms of prejudice which clearly warranted suspension and referral to the NCC with a recommendation for expulsion.

 

This demonstrates that policies relating to the disciplinary process were created in an ad-hoc manner, primarily to provide short-term fixes to political and factional problems, and with little thought given to their long-term implications. Staff in GLU and senior management implemented them in much the same manner, creating inconsistencies and irregularities. Policies were either followed or not followed on a selective basis. For example, it was not followed in the 2016 leadership election, but was still applied in relation to some extreme cases of antisemitism and Islamophobia, which in some cases resulted in no action being taken.

 

 

 

3.1.4.iii. Share and retweet guidelines

“We can’t take action on a shared post.”

 

In spring 2016 Labour had commissioned two enquiries related to antisemitism – the

Royall Report, an investigation into allegations of antisemitism in the Oxford University Labour Club (OULC), and the Chakrabarti report into antisemitism and racism. Both made recommendations regarding Labour’s disciplinary processes, and GLU staff attempted to formulate new guidelines on the back of them.

 

On 3 October 2016, Stolliday produced his first draft of new guidelines for disciplinary procedures, noting “some of this comes out of the away day we held earlier this year, and also incorporates a bit of Chakrabarti and JLM.” This noted that social media includes some “grey areas” – “here context is crucial”, and:

 

It is recommended that “likes” on Facebook, or “retweets” on Twitter, or similar on any social media site should not alone be a trigger for disciplinary action. However they may form part of a wider narrative and context of social media posts to be considered in any disciplinary action being taken against a party member.[539]

 

After the 2016 leadership election, NEC members further raised the ambiguity around action on different forms of social media activity, and a January 2017 summary of concerns from the NEC Disputes Committee asked “in examining social media, what weight should be given to retweets / likes / shares, as opposed to original tweets and postings written by the member?”[540] This was in the context of discussion of Labour members being suspended or autoexcluded for simply having retweeted the Green Party on issues they agreed with them on. At the meeting at which this discussion took place, Jeremy Corbyn himself noted that “We need to deal with the serious cases of abuse”, while arguing:

 

On support for another political party, it is very unclear what that constitutes. There’s a whole range of policies you might support without actually supporting another party, and the timeframe of previous support is unclear.[541]

 

In his final version of the paper, agreed by the NEC in March 2017, Stolliday noted in his introduction that “Retweets and likes alone on social media are not a reason for disciplinary action – but they could form context in a wider investigation”, while the paper said:

 

On social media or other forums, the simple promoting of a point of view – for example, by retweeting or liking – should not in itself be a reason for taking disciplinary action – save for a warning. However where there is a pattern of repeated behaviour that may form part of a wider narrative and context of social media posts considered in any disciplinary investigation involving a Party member.[542]

 

This guidance remained confusing and ambiguous. It did not explain, for example:

 

  • If retweeting or liking alone could be the basis of disciplinary action, if this was part of a persistent pattern of behaviour.
  • If retweeting or liking alone could be the basis of disciplinary action, if the content met a certain level of extremity.
  • If shares were also considered a “simple promoting of a point of view”.

 

This was not elaborated on and GLU staff do not appear to have made decisions on the basis of any written guidance. As a result, an informal, vague policy of “not acting on shares or retweets” continued to be used, but inconsistently.

 

Again, this led to some very poor decisions, including on antisemitism cases.

 

For example, Sarah Wilkinson had been suspended during the 2016 leadership election for a range of antisemitic tweets, including calling a Jewish Labour donor a “zio-desperado” and saying “Israel is a Nazi state”. After interviewing Wilkinson in December 2016, investigations officer Ben Westerman asked colleagues for “a second opinion… on whether this crosses the line”, noting her “obsessive pattern of posts – at least 10 daily – about the Middle East”.

 

Wilkinson, however, claimed that she did not write many of things she tweeted, as she would copy and paste what other people had written as if it were her own, and argued that “It is impossible to cause offence on twitter, because if people were to be offended by what i post, and i seriously doubt they ever are, they can stop following me.” On 16 January 2017, Westerman therefore lifted her suspension without warning.574

 

The distinction between sharing something and writing it oneself seems to have informed Westerman’s decision. However, a more systematic search of Wilkinson’s social media profiles would have revealed that she repeatedly supported a range of extreme antisemitism, including Holocaust denial and antisemitic conspiracy theories about Israel being behind 9/11, 7/7 and other “false flag” terrorists attacks.

 

Less than two months later, some of this evidence was flagged to the team and a

“case” created in GLU’s “SharePoint”. In July 2017 a case was then created in Members Centre’s “GLU tab”, but no further action was taken, and Wilkinson remained a member until her resignation in October 2018.[543]

 

In March 2018, meanwhile, a Momentum activist submitted a complaint about Glen Shakespeare for a post he believed “to be anti-semitic in nature” – a meme saying that an antisemite is now someone Jews hate”. Disputes officer Megan McCann responded to the Complaints team saying simply that:

 

We can’t take action on a shared post. However, the complainant is welcome to submit more evidence.

 

The complainant was then informed that “we cannot take action against posts which have been shared or re-tweeted.” Shakespeare’s social media profiles do not appear to have been looked at. Searches of them would have revealed a range of antisemitic materials – in February 2018 the “GnasherJew” Twitter account had even tweeted a screnshot of Shakespeare sharing a Holocaust denial article, but staff had apparently not seen this.

 

Following our audits into historic cases which were mishandled, Shakespeare was suspended in autumn 2019.

 

Similarly, on 12 April 2018 a member Michael Preece was reported for several retweets, including one explaining Economist articles on Syria by the purported facts that “The Rothchilds own 50% of The Economist” and “Jacob Rothschild is on the Advisory Board of Genie Energy”, drilling in Syria’s Golan Heights.  An email was sent from the complaints inbox in response saying:

 

we are unable to take any further action in this matter… because we are unable to take action against statements which have been re-tweeted.[544]

 

This was despite the fact that Preece was also shown tweeting to the complainant that he was “a fuckwit”, and Preece’s profile was apparently not looked at. In autumn 2019 this case was reviewed as part of our historical audits, and an investigation launched.

 

On 14 April 2018, meanwhile, “Labour Against Antisemitism” (LAAS) submitted a dossier on Andrew Paul Thompson, containing numerous Facebook posts of his.

However, although Megan McCann said “I do think that this guys posts are anti semitic”, she maintained:

 

The problem is his bio ‘sharing without comment is not endorsement’. The most offensive and notable posts are shares with no comment.

 

The Complaints email account therefore responded that this would “not be investigated further by the party”:

 

This is because most of the evidence provided against Andrew Thompson is material which he has shared rather than written himself. His profile contains a disclaimer that sharing a post does not necessarily mean he agrees with or endorses it.

 

It therefore seems that GLU were, at least in some cases, continuing to not take action on shares, regardless of their extremity or the pattern of repeated behaviour, albeit with the added context that this respondent claimed his shares did not mean endorsement.

 

This was despite the fact that McCann herself noted the content as antisemitic, and the fact that numerous written comments from Thompson were included, such as him writing about a “pro Zionist cabal” in Labour, explaining why he “equate[s] Zionism with barbaric oppression and racism” and that “Zionism is racism” and claiming that Arab “are… Semitic”.

 

Just weeks later, Labour and LOTO press staff enquired about a Times story from

“LAAS” about individuals, including Thompson, being “let off”. Although forwarded to Goodyear and Matthews, it did not prompt any review of the case decision.[545] In summer 2019, however Thompson was raised by another complainant, and an investigation launched.

 

On 23 April 2018, meanwhile, head of Complaints Sophie Goodyear explained that:

 

in most cases re-tweets and shares alone are not enough to amount to a breach of the rules as they don’t necessarily reflect a person’s own views, they are however used to advise a decision where other evidence is available or where a pattern of behaviour is clear.[546]

 

This response was also given in other similar cases, such as a report of transphobia.[547] In other cases, however, GLU did act entirely on shares. On 22 February 2018, for example, a member received an NOI for sharing two posts.[548]

 

The informal policy, such as it existed, appears to have been very inconsistently applied. It was poorly thought through, and led to some very poor decisions on cases. It also seems to have developed, primarily, not as an attempt to offer coherent guidance and judgement on how to respond to cases involving social media activity, but simply as a justification for a factional decision taken by GLU – to take no action against Emily Benn whilst suspending Andrew Fisher.

 

 

 

3.1.5. Guidance on antisemitism

“Given the sensitivities on the issue… is there any guidance/learnings from investigations of this nature elsewhere?”

 

In mid-2016, both the Royall and Chakrabarti reports offered some guidance to Labour members and recommendations for their conduct relating to antisemitism. In late 2016, Labour adopted a social media pledge and code of conduct, which had been proposed by Deputy Leader Tom Watson. In late 2016 the NEC also adopted the IHRA definition of antisemitism, and in September 2017 Labour passed a rule change, worked on in cooperation with the JLM, making explicit that antisemitism, Islamophobia and other forms of racism and prejudice towards anyone with a protected characteristic were contrary to the party’s rules.

 

The guidance offered in these documents ranged from the general to the highly specific. Although many principles were specifically agreed, however, GLU in this period failed to implement many of them, or to develop any detailed internal guidance of its own to guide decision-making on antisemitism cases. Instead, decisions continued to be made by staff who had been recruited largely along factional lines, and who lacked relevant experience or expertise. As we shall see, this helped to lead to highly inconsistent and, in many cases, poor decisions on antisemitism complaints in this period.

 

 

3.1.5.i. The Chakrabarti Report

 

The Chakrabarti Report, published on 30 June 2016, and adopted by the NEC shortly after, offered a range of guidance and recommendations with regard to how the Party should treat different types of racism and antisemitism.

 

Regarding the term “Zio”, Chakrabarti noted that “racist epiphets [have[ no place in the Labour Party”, and:

 

I recommend that the word “Zio” should have no place in Labour Party discourse going forward.

 

Chakrabarti also noted:

 

During the short period of my current Inquiry, I have learned of a new modern-day racist epithet. “Zio” is a word that seems to have gained some currency on campuses and on social media in particular. No doubt it began as an abbreviation of “Zionist” (a term I will discuss later). However, I am clear that no one uses this word to describe their own political or cultural identity. It is a term of abuse, pure and simple, and should not in my view have any place in the vocabulary of Labour members, whether online, in conversation or anywhere else.[549]

 

In a section on “stereotyping”, Chakrabarti addressed antisemitic stereotypes and tropes, and remarked that “any seasoned activist who says that they are completely unaware of any such discourse must be wholly insensitive or completely in denial”:

 

To suggest, for example, that all or most Jewish people are wealthy or interested in wealth or finance or political or media influence or less likely to be of the left or likely to hold particular or any views on the subject of the Middle East is a classic stereotype. Equally, to doubt the political or national loyalty of a Jewish person on account of their actual or perceived connection to fellow Jews elsewhere around the world including in Israel is (unwittingly or otherwise) to tap into an age-old antisemitic conspiracy trope that will inevitably and understandably leave your Jewish friends, neighbours or fellow activists feeling vulnerable, excluded and even threatened. Once more, I am not saying that this is endemic, but any seasoned activist who says that they are completely unaware of any such discourse must be wholly insensitive or completely in denial.582

 

Chakrabarti addressed a number of specific examples of racism and antisemitism experienced by Labour members. One was about Ruth Smeet MP, a Labour MP who is Jewish, and allegations that she was “some kind of agent for Mossad”:

 

I have heard the painful experience of a Labour councillor who was told that he would be particularly good at a finance role (for no reason other than being Jewish). I have heard from an MP around whom rumours circulated that she was some kind of agent for Mossad. This was simply on account of her faith identity and preparliamentary career in community activism. I have heard from Jewish students expected either to defend or condemn the policies of the Israeli government during their freshers’ week when in truth they have no firm or developed view and just want to settle in and go to the parties like everyone else.[550]

 

In a section on “Insensitive and incendiary language, metaphors, distortions and comparisons”, Chakrabarti explained that:

 

In day-to-day political debate, it is always incendiary to compare the actions of Jewish people or institutions anywhere in the world to those of Hitler or the Nazis or to the perpetration of the Holocaust. Indeed such remarks can only be intended to be incendiary rather than persuasive.

 

Chakrabarti noted that such metaphors and comparison “are all too capable, not only of bringing the Labour Party into disrepute, but of actively undermining the cause of peace, justice and statehood for the Palestinian people which forms part of Labour’s current “two-state” foreign policy and which so many Jewish people (including in the Labour Party) actively support.” She concluded:

 

I recommend that Labour members resist the use of Hitler, Nazi and Holocaust metaphors, distortions and comparisons in debates about Israel-Palestine in particular.

 

On comparing the Holocaust to other atrocities, Chakrabarti further argued that:

 

if every human rights atrocity is described as a Holocaust, Hitler’s attempted obliteration of the Jewish people is diminished or de-recognised in our history as is the history of a global minority that has had cause to feel, at worst, persecuted and, at best, vulnerable for thousands of years.

 

She noted that “diluting their particularity or comparing degrees of victimhood and evil does no service to anyone”, and wrote:

 

I further recommend that excuse for, denial, approval or minimisation of the

Holocaust and attempts to blur responsibility for it, have no place in the Labour Party.[551]

 

Chakrabarti therefore suggested that not only denial of the Holocaust and Holocaust revisionism, but also any attempt to “minimise” or “blur responsibility” for the Holocaust, including by diminishing its significance through comparison with other genocides, should “have no place in the Labour Party”.

 

On the issue of “Zionism and Zionists”, meanwhile, Chakrabarti noted how “Zionist” meant different things to different people, but has also:

 

been used personally, abusively or as a euphemism for “Jew”, even in relation to some people with no stated position or even a critical position on the historic formation or development of modern Israel.

 

Further, she noted varying views in the Jewish community, with “some people personally redefining their Zionism in ways that appear to grant less support to the State of Israel and more solidarity to fellow Jewish people the world over”, while some were “suspicious of repeated criticism of Israeli policy in a way that they see as disproportionate or out of synch with human rights abuses by other states and governments around the region or the world.” She concluded:

 

It seems to me that it is for all people to self-define their political beliefs and I cannot hope to do justice to the rich range of self-descriptions of both Jewishness or Zionism, even within the Labour Party, that I have heard. What I will say is that some words have been used and abused by accident and design so much as to blur, change or mutate their meaning. My advice to critics of the Israeli State and/or Government is to use the term “Zionist” advisedly, carefully and never euphemistically or as part of personal abuse.585

 

As noted in Section 2.1, the Chakrabarti Report was not immediately made available by Labour HQ to Labour members, although it was fully available to GLU-GSO.

 

Jeremy Corbyn spoke similarly to Chakrabarti at the time. In his speech at the launch of the Chakrabarti Report on 30 June 2016, Corbyn elaborated on some of the leftwing forms of antisemitism that the Party needed to challenge. He said:

 

[Jewish people] are also a minority amongst minorities and have had good cause to feel vulnerable and even threatened throughout history. This should never happen by accident or design in our Labour Party. Modern antisemitism may not always be about overt violence and persecution, though there is too much of that even to this day. We must also be vigilant against subtler and invidious manifestations of this nasty ancient hatred and avoid slipping into its traps by accident or intent.

 

In the speech Corbyn also called “Zio” a “vile epithet” and spoke about common antisemitic tropes such as:

 

  • assuming that Jewish people are wealthy;
  • accusing Jewish people of being part of a financial or media conspiracy;
  • making assumptions about Jewish people’s political views, especially on Israel and Palestine;
  • or holding Jewish people responsible for the actions of Netanyahu’s government.

 

Corbyn also requested that Labour members not use Hitler or Nazi comparisons, especially in the context of Israel, and explained that comparing every human rights atrocity to the Holocaust diminishes Hitler’s attempt to obliterate the Jewish people.[552]

 

Both Chakrabarti and Jeremy Corbyn therefore provided in-depth, nuanced and detailed guidance on a range of contemporary forms of antisemitism, focused on those forms that can manifest on the left. Chakrabarti also recommended that:

 

There should be specific training for all staff and members involved in the investigations and disciplinary process.587

 

However, although these interventions led to some stronger action on antisemitism by GLU, such as acting on usage of the term “Zio”, GLU did not then produce any guidance or arrange any training for staff that would cover such issues. As a result, GLU staff including Director Stolliday and Head of Disputes Matthews continued to make some inappropriate decisions, failing to recognise as antisemitism a range of different antisemitic materials, from classical antisemitism about the “chosen people”

 

to conspiracy theories about “Zionist” and “Rothschild” control, and even Holocaust revisionism.

 

 

3.1.5.ii. GLU decision-making on antisemitism, 2014 to March 2018

 

GLU had responded to complaints of antisemitism prior to 2015 – such as in the case of Vicki Kirby – and there were other suspensions in relation to antisemitism from late 2015 onwards. However, GLU never produced any guidance for central or regional staff on how to deal with such cases. This was despite the key staff involved not having a history of working on such complaints, or dealing with issues of racism or antisemitism, with Stolliday, for example, having joined from the Media Monitoring Unit. This partly explains the many inconsistent and unusual decisions taken (some of which have already been detailed).

 

In this period, public interventions and statements by Jeremy Corbyn and Shami Chakrabarti led to some increased action on antisemitism by GLU. But GLU’s failure to produce or procure any internal guidance or training meant that decisions were highly inconsistent, in many cases poor, and often contrary to the recommendations of both Chakrabarti and Jeremy Corbyn.

 

For example, on 18 October 2015 Ian Austin MP emailed Iain McNicol regarding Len Jukes, who had joined the Party 10 days earlier.[553] Austin attached two emails from Jukes, where he said Labour MPs were:

 

NOTHING BUT EGOTISTIC ZIONIST TWIRPS WITH A ROTHSCHILD HIDDEN AGENDA ..I

BET YOU ARE ALL FRIENDS OF ISRAEL

 

self seeking Zionist trolls with a hidden agenda

 

Austin commented:

 

I think his email is racist and anti-semitic and should be dealt with.

 

Jukes had sent these emails to more than twenty Labour MPs, and Austin cc-ed them all in his email. On 19 October Claire Pryor forwarded this to Stolliday – “Iain thinks action should probably be taken”. Stolliday forwarded it to Jane Shaw, who noted that Jukes was “well within the objection period”. This was a reference to the fact that in the first 8 weeks of someone’s membership, their membership can be rejected by the

General Secretary or CLP. However, Stolliday subsequently discussed the case with Shaw over the phone, and agreed she would not take action. She wrote on 23 October:

 

As agreed on phone – nothing for me to do and back to you

 

Instead, on 23 October Stolliday forwarded the complaint to Sophie Goodyear. He then responded to Pryor:

 

The comments in this correspondence were of an abusive nature and unacceptable. 

 

Because of this inappropriate conduct towards other Labour Party members, I have sent this person a formal warning letter which will remain on his file.

 

If there are any further issues the party reserves the right to consider this matter further. 

 

This response was then sent from McNicol to Austin and the other Labour MPs, although the Party has been unable to find any evidence that a warning was sent, and no evidence or letter was saved to his Members’ Centre record.

 

Gisela Stuart MP responded:

 

I am astonished. A letter of warning and we “reserve the right”.

This behaviour is utterly and totally unacceptable. His words were offensive and anti-Semitic.

If you don’t want to suspend him right away, I expect an apology.

 

This was forwarded to Stolliday with the comment:

 

As expected! Iain is away next week so if there is a reply to her could it go from Emilie?

 

Nothing further appears to have happened, until on 16 November 2015, Austin raised a further complaint about Jukes. Tracey Allen, Mike Creighton and Katherine Buckingham all commented that the case was new to them, reflecting the lack of record-keeping or clear processes at the time. On 24 November 2015 Tracey Allen enquired about Jukes’ membership status, in relation to this email.

 

Separately, however, in mid-November 2015 the CLP themselves rejected Jukes’ membership, within the 8 week period, which Shaw administered for them on 16 November. Allen was therefore informed on 24 November that Jukes’ membership had already been rejected, which McNicol then relayed to Austin.

 

On 3 December 2015, by contrast, Facebook comments by member Ray Hall about a “zionist cabal” of “labour friends of israel” and their “puppets” was flagged to GLU. Stolliday responded:

 

Clearly nasty antisemitism from a new member – I think we should take action – cannot allow those sort of repugnant views in the party now it’s been brought to our attention.

 

As a new joiner, Hall then received a General Secretary Membership Rejection.[554]

 

These decisions were clearly inconsistent: Jukes directed abuse directly at Labour MPs, and his antisemitism, accusing the MPs of following a “Rothschild hidden agenda”, was apparent. Stolliday’s decision to issue an informal warning to Jukes, even though he was aware the option of a membership rejection was available, also suggests a lack of understanding of the severity of the conduct highlighted. This was a consequence of a lack of training and guidance for staff on antisemitism.

 

This could also be seen in cases of more “classical” antisemitism. On 19 February 2016, for example, John Mann MP forwarded to Iain McNicol an email from a local member, Tony Olsson, which he described as “An extraordinary diatribe from a Labour Party member.”[555]

 

Olsson’s email included countless examples of classical antisemitism. He wrote, for example:

 

The Jews are so sure that they are God’s chosen race, that they do not, or will not, accept that it is they who are stirring up hatred against themselves. They’ve been doing it for millennia. Is it not time they stopped?

 

Olsson claimed:

 

any criticism of Jews will be treated as anti-Semitism, not least by the large number of Jewish MPs and Lords in Westminster, including those in the Labour Party. This is an unfortunate consequence of legislation designed to protect Jews, but which enables them to act with impunity, and deflect criticism of their actions in Israel, Palestine and the wider Middle East. The problem is perhaps even more acute in

America where many of its congressmen are Jews

 

He quoted from the Bible to explain actions of “the Jews”:

 

This is why the Jews will not engage in discussions about their illegal occupation of Palestine; and continue their vicious persecution and murder of the people they consider are occupying “their” land.

 

That’s why the large contingents of Jews in the British and American Governments will not allow international action to be taken against Israel to stop it breaking International laws and UN resolutions.

 

Olsson even quoted Osama bin Laden’s views on Israel, without comment or criticism.

 

Stolliday forwarded Olsson’s email to Creighton, asking:

 

Is this enough to suspend & send to NCC for consideration?

 

Creighton, however, was unsure:

 

I think so, but I have to say I am very nervous about where the boundaries are drawn (as it were) on these issues, since it does not seem at all clear to me where distinction between right and wrong lies.

 

Stolliday then agreed it was unclear, and suggested to just “leave this one”:

 

I agree not easy. It’s offensive but right at the limit of freedom of speech/thought. I don’t think a warning letter would do anything which is why I thought let the NCC decide  – but maybe we should just leave this one.

 

No case was logged, no further investigation was conducted, and no action was taken.

 

On 23 July 2018, Gloria de Piero MP then reported Olsson for a similarly racist email. On 2 August 2018 Olsson was suspended, and he resigned the following month.

 

Olsson’s email revealed deep, direct, classical antisemitic prejudice and hostility towards Jews. That Creighton and Stolliday felt it was “right at the limit of freedom of speech/thought” exhibits a lack of understanding of antisemitism, reflecting a lack of staff training, while the deliberation between a full NCC case and not acting at all underlines the informal manner in which complaints were handled.[556]

 

On 13 April 2016, meanwhile, Richard Angell emailed Emilie Oldknow on “Antisemitic tweets”, asking if David Brede was a member, attaching a screenshot of Brede reply to David Cameron’s Passover message on Twitter: “ask the Jews to stop seizing Palestinian lands”.

 

Oldknow asked Stolliday to “have a look and let me know about suspensions/regional office investigation etc”. Stolliday liaised with Region, noting that he had been “thinking warning letter”, but was now “erring on side of suspension” given Jeremy Corybn’s latest statement on party action against antisemitism:

 

I was thinking warning letter but because JC said: “Anti-Semitism is absolutely abhorrent and wrong. Anyone that commits any act of anti-Semitism, that makes anti-Semitic remarks, is auto excluded from the party and an inquiry follows immediately. We have suspended, we will suspend, any member that behaves in that way.” I’m not sure a warning letter is good enough.[557]

 

After a two week delay, a suspension was agreed and enacted. In March 2017, almost a year later, after Region interviewed Brede and he showed contrition and “full understanding”, and “pointed out that he apologised at the time almost straight away”, Brede’s suspension was lifted.[558]

 

As antisemitism cases escalated from spring 2016 onwards, mostly prompted by urgent media enquiries, some regional staff asked GLU for central guidance on how to investigate and deal with such cases. On 16 May 2016, for example, Regional Director Cameron Scott asked Stolliday regarding a new antisemitism investigation, with Creighton and Goodyear in cc:

 

Given the sensitivities on the issue is the approach that we look to do the investigation urgently and is there any guidance/learnings from investigations of this nature elsewhere?[559]

 

Stolliday responded simply:

 

I don’t think anyone else has done their investigations quickly – although Harry is making a start. Maybe worth chatting to him?[560]

 

The next day, Buckingham emailed the Regions and Nations asking for progress on cases, and advised:

 

If it’s an anti-semitism allegation, stand by for further advice from Compliance so that we can approach these consistently nationally. This will come later this week.[561][562]

 

However, the Party cannot find any evidence of this having been produced or sent.

 

On 28 June 2016, meanwhile, a regional director asked new Investigations Officer Sam

Matthews “on the antisemitism ones, have we got something to follow now?” Matthews responded that “Full advice on racism in the party with guidance will be available shortly after the Chakrabarti report is released on Thursday.”[563]

 

On 29 June, the director of London Region emailed GLU:

 

you also asked us to stand by for further advice on the anti-Semitism cases. Where someone alleged of anti-Semitism is yet to be interviewed, should we ensure that an interview is scheduled or wait to hear from you?[564]

 

On 27 June, meanwhile, Creighton noted regarding Scotland that “Party discipline remains with the national party except where it is clearly with regions and nations”, and they could “encapsulate that perhaps in new guidance” rather than party rules – “unless Brian wants to deal with Scottish antisemitism differently to English AS!!”[565] It was therefore clearly understood by Creighton that the responsibility for creating national guidance on dealing with antisemitism cases lay with GLU.

 

On 29 June 2016 Terry Flanagan was reported to GLU for an antisemitic email about “Israeli Mossad… orchestrating the attack on… Jeremy Corbyn”, asking “for how much longer are we going to allow supporters of this vile racist state” – Israel – to “pollute” the Labour Party.[566] Camden Council’s Labour whip even emailed Stolliday directly:

 

Flanagan has been subjecting me, other councillors and other members to a string of hateful, abusive and intimidatory emails for many months. These are the subject of local complaints and are being investigated by the CLP. 

 

Although existing complaints against him are being investigated, I think that his latest horrible diatribe merits immediate action by the Party.[567]

 

In discussion with Matthews, who was “erring on the side of suspension”, Stolliday wrote:

 

The problem is in normal times (ie when we’re not in an anti-Semitism swirl) we would probably deal with mad conspiracy theories like this with a warning letter as to future conduct. 

 

As much as I disagree with the content and find it offensive, I do think there is an argument which could be made that this is legitimate political belief protected by freedom of speech. However it invokes a common anti-Semitic trope

(Israel/Jews/Mossad secretly conspiring to influence world events) and in current climate we have certainly suspended for less. So if Kat agrees, go for it.[568]

 

Matthews responded “Understood – helpful to know where the bar sits.”[569] After repeated complaints and chasing from several complainants, submitting numerous emails of Flanagan’s, on 18 August London Regional Director Dan Simpson asked “Without wading through all 27 emails is there any reason not just to suspend Flanagan and then investigate or is there something I am missing?” Flanagan was suspended that day – but in January 2017 his suspension was lifted and the case closed with a staff-issued “formal NEC warning”.605 Flanagan was suspended again in January 2020, in a staff-initiated case concerning antisemitic emails.[570]

 

On 30 June 2016, meanwhile, Richard Angell from “Progress” submitted a complaint about a member who “see[s] ‘Zio’ as OK and ‘Zio’ and ‘Zionist’ as interchangeable”. Oldknow asked Stolliday “What do you think”. He responded:

 

Honestly I don’t know, but I would be guided by Shami’s strong words on the phrase ‘zio’ today

 

Creighton followed up referring to what Chakrabarti had written about the term “zio”:

 

The word zio should have no place etc…..[571]

 

This shows that Chakrabarti’s guidance was already having a positive impact on decision-making by staff in GLU, although actual action by GLU remained slow – this case appears to have been lost without any action being taken. The member in question was eventually suspended on 31 May 2017, 335 days after the original complaint, over a separate complaint of antisemitism.

 

As discussed, both Jeremy Corbyn and Shami Chakrabarti in this period gave detailed guidance to Labour members on how antisemitism can manifest on the left, and the types of conduct that the Party considered unacceptable. It was evident that GLU staff were unclear about how to respond to the many different types of antisemitism, and Matthews commented in relation to Flanagan that it was “helpful to know where the bar sits”. Despite this, however, no internal GLU guidance on how to approach cases concerning antisemitism appears to have then been produced or procured.

 

Instead, on 1 July 2016, new Investigations Officer Sam Matthews emailed all key regional staff with guidance on “Sending Disciplinary Matters to Compliance”, with GLU-GS in cc:

 

Some regional staff have enquired about when it’s appropriate to forward something to our team so I thought it would be helpful to outline where the bar sits when it comes to sending cases our way.

 

Matthews’ guidance was to apply a “common sense test”:

 

What it comes down to is essentially a common sense test. Any examples of personal abuse, sexism, racism, homophobia or threats of any kind should come to us. If there is any question about the personal safety of anyone involved, that information should also go to the Police. 

 

Examples which fall into a grey area are more challenging. They tend to involve situations where someone is being (essentially) impolite towards another member or dismissive of the Labour Party/parts of the Labour Party. For example:

 

  • A member is using expletives, in a way that is not abusive towards any individual (or group of individuals).
  • A member is expressing strong discontent with the position of the Labour Party or some of its MPs in a way which does not constitute a threat or personal abuse towards any individual (or group of individuals).
  • A member is expressing a view which another labour party member finds unsavoury, but is never the less a legitimate political position.

 

We are committed to providing a safe space for debate to take place among members and supporters but those examples generally fall into the general discourse – rather than a cause for disciplinary action.[572]

 

This “common sense” advice was ambiguous and unclear. With many forms of antisemitism, as with other forms of racism, sexism, transphobia and so forth, the question is precisely what is a “legitimate” political viewpoint, and what is “racism”. This is what Stolliday touched on in his response to the Terry Flanagan case, and what this “common sense test” failed to explain.

 

The “Validation” process of 2016, meanwhile, does not appear to have involved any written guidance to staff or NEC members on what kinds of comments merited action, beyond the general statement on not tolerating talk of “traitors” and “scum” that had been agreed.[573]

 

On 23 January 2017, Ben Westerman elaborated on GLU’s rationale for a decision on an antisemitism case, originally submitted by JLM Chair Jeremy Newmark and JLM Director Ella Rose, for Scottish General Secretary Brian Roy. He also shared it with Matthews. He wrote:

 

Treating this as an individual case, we don’t think this quite crosses the line of what the NEC Disputes Panel would be happy to send further to the NCC.

 

Whilst his comments are certainly insensitive, they actively distinguish between Judaism and Zionism, stating that the media have conflated the two (itself questionable but not directly anti-Semitic) and his comment on JLM is that they are “cunning connivers” – not itself an anti-Semitic attack, rather a general attack on them.

 

He further states that the NEC is “in league” with JLM – not anti-Semitism. 

 

On his comments RE Jeremy Newmark – to call him [and JLM] “arrogant and dogmatic” is certainly unpleasant and uncomradely, but can’t be described as antiSemitic according to the newly adopted IHRA definition – it’s simply an attack on a member who happens to be Jewish

 

When it comes to “they are rabid Zionist Jews” – this is the most offensive thing said in the post, and whilst it certainly errs very close to the line, it would not fall within the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism which the NEC have adopted, so for now there is no sanction in place within the rulebook outside of the warning he has already received for it. He also notes that the “not representative of Jews” thing is from the article.

 

Equally, the stuff about “anti-Semitic slurs” being unfounded is highly insensitive, but in itself not anti-Semitic and certainly not what the NEC would consider worthy of a NCC case. 

 

Hope that all makes sense – appreciate you’re under a bit of pressure with these, but we have to treat them individually and be aware of what will constitute something which can be actioned and a case formed for expulsion from the party. 610

 

The guidance and reasoning offered here is very weak in comparison to the Labour Party’s current decision-making matrix and guidance on antisemitism.

 

Staff today would note that the language of the JLM being “cunning connivers” and “in league” with others bears a strong resemblance to antisemitic tropes about Jews; “rabid Zionist Jews” is highly inappropriate and offensive, and a clear use of “Zionist” as a term of abuse, which Chakrabarti had warned about; the reference to “antiSemitic slurs” suggests the member might not treat antisemitism in the same way they would other forms of racism, and may support conspiracy theories about antisemitism being faked; and the attack on a leading Jewish member who “happens to be Jewish” would be concerning if they were being attacked because they had raised the issue of antisemitism. “[Distinguishing] between Judaism and Zionism”, meanwhile, does not mean one is not promoting antisemitic ideas – many people who promote antisemitic ideas do this, from David Icke to opponents of “Zionist world control” who share memes of the Neturei Karta.

 

Ben Westerman is Jewish, he expressed frustrations at times about the inadequacy of the party’s disciplinary processes in relation to antisemitism, and he appears to have been much more diligent in doing his job than his then colleagues. There can be no doubt about his sincere opposition to antisemitism and desire to deal with it in the party. However, this guidance was deficient in many respects. This underlines how complicated some aspects of antisemitism are, and why expertise, training and clear, detailed guidance is so necessary. Unfortunately, however, none of this was procured or produced while Iain McNicol was general secretary.

 

Later, on 28 June 2017, in an update on antisemitism to Jan Royall, Stolliday commented that:

 

I believe… that the prominence of the investigations we are doing has led to a resurgance of what is called the “anti-Zionist movement” – under which many people use well-known anti-Semitic tropes, language and claims but simply use the word “Zionist” instead of “Jew,” and then forcefully claim that this is their right to criticise Zionism and the State of Israel when challenged. This is clearly much harder for us to deal with and harder to prosecute – falling into a murkier area than simple antiSemitic abuse.611

 

                                             

  • Guidance and standards: “170123 BW and SM on AS standards .eml”
  • 170628 Re Jan Royall Antisemitism .eml

Despite identifying this area as “clearly much harder for us to deal with”, “harder to prosecute” and “a murkier area than simple anti-Semitic abuse”, however, Stolliday did not draft guidelines for staff outlining how to handle such cases.

 

Such guidelines were, indeed, never developed while Iain McNicol was general secretary. In January 2018, for example, concerning a case of racism, Scottish General Secretary Brian Roy enquired with Emilie Oldknow “Do we have any specific procedures or policies to deal with complaints of racism or racial discrimination?” Oldknow responded:

 

These are dealt with as part of our usual disciplinary code of conduct on behaviours. Conference passed a rule change last year on all forms of discrimination.

 

It is dealt with through the normal investigation route but the NEC now have specific powers as outlined in the rule book.[574]

 

In short: there weren’t.

 

Similarly, on 21 February 2018, Matthews noted regarding a tranche of antisemitism cases:

 

Some of these will not represent a prima facie breach of 2.I.8 and, as always, you will need to use your judgement in applying the IHRA (NEC adopted) definition of antisemitism and the rule itself in deciding which ones require further action.

 

The lack of guidance on how to approach cases of antisemitism (or, for example, Islamophobia), resulted in a number of individuals being “let off” who should not have been, as GLU staff at times seem to have failed to appreciate the severity of the conduct being presented to them.

 

For example, on 14 September 2016 Regional Director Fiona Stanton forwarded local complaints about member Alan Myers to Sam Matthews. Screenshots showed Myers writing about Israelis:

 

if you say anyhing against them they cry anti semitism and harp back to the holocaust to curry sympathy. Well, the holocaust is exactly what they are performing on the rightful inhabitants of Palestine with the financial support of the US and UK. The problems caused by “terrorism” presently are 100% caused by the Zionist leaders of Israel (an illegal state) and their billionaire masters, the Rothschilds.

 

This was clearly antisemitic and would merit an immediate suspension under our current guidelines and decision-making matrix. Two months later, on 16 November 2016 (after chasing by Stanton), Matthews responded:

 

I don’t think there is enough to suspend Alan Myers here – although we should send a stern warning about his use of language.[575]

 

At this point, the old procedures of automatic suspension when under investigation still applied, and in January 2017 GLU re-suspended a member simply for an obtuse and angry response on Facebook to his suspension being lifted.[576] Matthews, however, felt that Myers’ comments should be settled with a “stern warning” rather than any investigation.

 

Similarly, in March 2017 a complaint was submitted about Patricia Sheerin, who had recently been readmitted following a suspension during the 2016 leadership election. A complainant reported her for “Holocaust denial”, attaching a screenshot from an unofficial pro-Labour Facebook group in which Sheerin wrote that some argue that:

 

the narrative we have been fed is inaccurate and the number of Jews exterminated in the camps was fewer than the 6 million claimed. To research the holocaust and challenge is not to deny it happened.

 

Holocaust revisionism is one of the main forms of Holocaust denial, and this was a clear defence of revisionism. Chakrabarti had explicitly said that not only Holocaust revisionism, but any attempt to “diminish” the Holocaust through comparison with other genocides had “no place in the Labour Party”.[577] Disputes officer Louise WithersGreen, however, emailed Matthews as follows:

 

Only one thing but she already has a warning, albeit for comradely behaviour rather than anti-semitism… it probably doesn’t add up to much but thought I’d check.[578]

 

Matthews did not reply, and no action was taken or case logged. The case was resurrected from “Palestine Live” in March 2018, but this evidence was not cited, and she received an NOI. In August 2018 the NEC then referred her to the NCC and suspended her, and in March 2019 she resigned from the party after receiving her charges.

 

Withers-Green took a similar approach to a complaint about Charles Stewart, who had shared a meme about Jacob Rothschild controlling people’s lives, and commented that it was “Rothschild”. The complainant noted:

 

[This] is a clear repetition of the anti-Semitic trope of Jews running the world in a vast conspiracy.

 

On 2 March 2017 Withers-Green identified Stewart and forwarded the complaint to Matthews, with the note “Maybe”. Matthews did not reply or take action. After recently uncovering this case in our historical audits (see Section 6.8), GLU staff have now saved a further thirty-seven pieces of evidence from Stewart’s Facebook, documenting his support for a wide range of antisemitic conspiracy theories, about “Zionist Western banksters”, Soros and the Rothschilds, and Stewart has been suspended.

 

On 22 April 2017, meanwhile, Colin Maughan sent a letter to the party expressing concern about Corbyn’s personal security due to “Mossad and the (dubious) Labour Friends of Israel in Parliament, who probably have close connections with the Zionists and Rothschilds”, and who wouldn’t “hesitate to silence an outsider, like President Kennedy”. This was flagged to GLU by Labour’s membership team on 2 May 2017, and on 28 June 2017 Withers-Green forwarded it to Matthews suggesting a potential investigation:

 

Anti-semitism in a letter to Jeremy.  It’s only this letter, unsure if this is enough for an investigation, but a letter is quite formal so I’d err on the side of yes.[579]

 

Maughan’s letter included clear, explicit advocacy of antisemitic conspiracy theories, and displayed a deep knowledge of such theories. Withers-Green clearly lacked training or guidance in this respect, while Sam Matthews did not reply. The case was not logged anywhere, and no further action was taken. In 2019, before this email was uncovered, Maughan resigned his membership.[580]

 

Guidance for how to progress with antisemitism cases that had been initiated was also lacking. In May 2016, asked by Scottish General Secretary Brian Roy for guidance on conducting interviews in such cases, Buckingham suggested they ask three questions:

 

We essentially need answers to three questions: 

  1. Did you make the comments/post/etc in question (show the evidence)
  2. What was your intention at the time?
  3. What do you feel about this now?

 

Our proposed action will hinge on the answer to the latter question, assuming the first two are clear.[581]

 

This subsequently became GLU’s core guidance to staff involved. On 1 November 2016, for example, Buckingham advised regional staff regarding antisemitism cases:

 

  1. present them with the evidence and ask them to confirm if they wrote it/said it/whatever.
  2. Ask what their intention was at the time of making the statement.
  3. Ask their view of it now.

 

This will lead them to either recognise anti-Semitism and apologise or [deny] there is a problem/defend the statement. Then just write a report of the interview and send it to us.[582]

 

At a November 2016 “away day” of GLU and Regional Directors, meanwhile,

Buckingham presented on the Role of Disputes. Regarding Interviews, she referred to

“Anti-Semitism – the three questions”. (Options for outcomes, meanwhile, were

“Warning/conditions/NCC”.)[583]

 

These “three questions” were clearly orientated towards encouraging complainants to apologise and then receive a warning and suspension lift, as was standard practice at the time. They did not provide any guidance to central or regional staff on what kind of proposals were appropriate, and GLU staff continued to argue for a “high bar” for NCC cases, and advise that cases that did not meet that bar should be settled informally.[584]

 

In the two and a half years since Jeremy Corbyn’s election, GLU failed to develop any coherent guidance or agreed standards as to when cases would merit action, or what kind of action different types of antisemitism-related cases might merit.

 

           

3.1.6. Conclusions

 

In 2015 and 2016 GLU had no systems for logging all disciplinary cases and tracking their progress. This meant that the Macpherson principle was not adhered to and that cases were often lost.

 

Many complaints were passed to busy regional staff to investigate; there was a lack of guidance for staff on how to investigate and how to take decisions in disciplinary cases; no guidance on antisemitism; and staff do not appear to have been provided with relevant training. This resulted in inefficient processes, often poor judgements, and inconsistent decision-making.

 

GLU favoured informal solutions as opposed to taking cases through Labour’s disciplinary processes. This informal approach sometimes entailed asking an individual to apologise and delete their comment, even in cases involving racism and other forms of prejudice. On some other occasions GLU would suspend someone for a short period of time and then decide to readmit them, without taking the case to the NEC for a decision, which is the proper process set out in Labour’s rules.

 

It also appears that GLU saw the processes as malleable to their immediate needs, which often related to their factional politics. This led to poorly thought out policies like not acting on retweets or shares, developed in order to justify not taking the same action against Emily Benn – a factional ally – that GLU took against Andrew Fisher – a factional opponent and employee of the Leader’s Office. This policy does not appear to have been signed off by the NEC and it was not written into the rules or any formal procedures. GLU appear to have adopted this new policy without any mandate from Labour’s democratic structures, and as a consequence decided not to act on some extreme cases of antisemitism, Islamophobia and other forms of prejudice which clearly warranted suspension and referral to the NCC with a recommendation for expulsion.

 

Despite the clear guidance from both Chakrabarti and Jeremy Corbyn himself on leftwing forms of antisemitism that were unacceptable in the Labour Party, GLU-GSO also failed to develop any guidance for staff on how to handle antisemitism cases, and continued to make a number of inappropriate decisions.

 

Unfortunately, as the next section shows, the situation did not improve in 2017.

3.2. Inaction on antisemitism: November 2016 to February 2018

 

3.2. Inaction on antisemitism: November 2016 to February 2018                                            238

3.2.1. Summary                                                                                                                    239

3.2.2. Staffing                                                                                                                        241

3.2.3. Case management systems                                                                                      246

3.2.3.i. Assessment                                                                                                        250

3.2.4. Post-“Validation” work                                                                                              252

3.2.4.i. Assessment                                                                                                        257

3.2.5. The new complaints process                                                                                   261

3.2.5.i. First step: forwarding to Disputes                                                                   263

3.2.5.ii. Second step: assessing complaints (managing inbox)                                 263

3.2.5.iii. Complaints missed after being forwarded to Disputes                              268

3.2.5.iv. Third step: Disputes authorise action                                                           271

3.2.5.v. Complaints forwarded to Head of Disputes and then ignored                   271

3.2.5.vi. Other requests for action ignored                                                                 277

3.2.6. Actions                                                                                                                        282

3.2.6.i. Table of antisemitism NOIs and suspensions, 1 November 2016 – 19

February 2018287
3.2.7. NEC stage294
3.2.8. NCC stage297
3.2.9. Other categories of complaints301
3.2.10. Conclusions303

 

 

3.2.1. Summary

 

As this report has demonstrated, the “Validation” process during the 2016 leadership election involved a huge amount of work from the GLU team. A system was designed specifically for processing and making decisions on cases at scale. In just over two months, staff processed information on 11,250 individuals and suspended or autoexcluded thousands.

 

However, after the leadership election ended, GLU did not develop any similarly efficient system for processing cases of antisemitism, or complaints more generally. Key GLU staff did not display the same drive for fulfilling their jobs in relation to disciplinary processes that they had displayed in relation to factional work.

 

GLU was well-resourced in this period, with staff describing the team formed at the end of 2016 as “huge” and one of the biggest in Labour HQ.

 

However, this team did not develop or maintain any functioning system for consistently or comprehensively logging, acting on or monitoring the progress of complaints. This meant that complaints were frequently lost, including cases involving extreme levels of antisemitism such as Holocaust denial. Furthermore, the vast majority of complaints of all categories, including cases of Islamophobia, homophobia and other forms of prejudice, simply were not acted on.

 

From 1 November 2016 to 19 February 2018, a sixteen month period, GLU suspended just 10 individuals, and issued twenty-four “Notices of Investigation”, in relation to antisemitism. This was not due to a lack of complaints, however – it was due to a lack of action on complaints being submitted.

 

At no point did the designed complaints process function. The inbox used for receipt of complaints would go months without any staff member tending to it, and in dozens of cases staff even emailed Head of Disputes Sam Matthews proposing that an investigation be launched, but he failed to act or respond. Matthews appears to have been the main blockage to action on antisemitism cases, and the few cases that were acted upon were mostly the result of other senior Labour staff directly chasing him. There appears to have been a lack of managerial oversight over Matthews, and disciplinary processes more generally, from GLU’s Director John Stolliday and the

Executive Director of Governance, Membership and Party Services, Emilie Oldknow.

 

Most antisemitism complaints submitted in this period, including cases of extreme antisemitism such as Holocaust denial and expressions of direct hatred towards Jewish people, were not acted upon at the time. In one case, regular complaints were made over the course of 18 months about an individual who had repeatedly denied the Holocaust and made comments which displayed sympathy for the Nazis. This was repeatedly raised directly with Matthews and GLU’s Director John Stolliday, including by the chair of the NEC Disputes Committee, and Matthews even incorrectly claimed this individual was under investigation – but no action followed.

 

During the course of the Party’s audits into historic antisemitism complaints, and while compiling this report, where the Party has uncovered antisemitism complaints that were not dealt with previously, GLU has opened new cases into those individuals. In many cases, the Party had already suspended these individuals in 2018 or 2019, after Jennie Formby became General Secretary and the GLU team changed, and many of these individuals have now either been expelled or have resigned from the Party. As a direct result of these historical audits, the Party has now also suspended a further 18 people from evidence that GLU received but failed to act on in this period – almost twice as many GLU suspended at the time.

 

In total, the Party has found that there were at least 170 cases of antisemitism by Labour members reported in this period, that warranted investigation but were not acted on, and the total figure is likely to be higher. In more than 70 of these cases, GLU staff had themselves identified or been made aware of the membership numbers of the Labour members in question, but no action was then taken.

 

In total, GLU staff acted on, at most, 16% of the complaints made about Labour members engaging in antisemitism in this period. There were just two cases reported in this period where Head of Disputes Sam Matthews acted in accordance with the designed processes and authorised action, which was then taken, without having a personal relationship with the complainant or being chased by senior Labour staff. This amounted to fewer than 1% of the antisemitism cases submitted in this period that should have been investigated and acted on.

 

There is no suggestion that these shortcomings can be attributed to any antisemitic views on the part of party officials, nor to an unwillingness to oppose their expression. The Party has not found evidence of this, and found evidence to the contrary – that the staff involved had a negative view towards antisemitic views.

 

3.2.2. Staffing

 

Following the summer’s “Validation” process onwards, a considerably larger team was built in GLU, as the below organograms from November 2016 illustrate.[585]

 

 

In September 2016 it was decided to add two further Disputes officers to the Disputes team, doubling its staff from two to four.[586] Ben Westerman, a “Validation

Coordinator” in the summer, filled one role, and Dan Hogan from Labour’s Policy team took the other (starting on 28 November 2016).

 

Head of Disputes Kat Buckingham had been working part-time, 2.5 days a week, and in the office “once a week or so”, since September 2015.[587] In late 2016 she decided to leave, and the role became full-time. Sam Matthews was the only person interviewed for the job, on 14 December 2016. He was the successful applicant.[588]

 

Before starting as a Disputes officer, Hogan also applied for Head of Disputes, but was not interviewed.[589] Stolliday explained that “The requirement was for somebody who had experience of the disputes and investigations systems, and then practical experience of working with that system.”[590]

 

Filling the vacant position in Disputes, on 13 February 2017 Louise Withers-Green started in the role of Disputes administrator. Formerly active in Labour Students,

Withers-Green had, like Matthews, been a “Field Organiser” for “Britain Stronger In

Europe” in the first half of 2016, and he had then recruited her as a “Validation

Assistant” during the 2016 leadership election.[591] She had previously been an intern at

Amnesty International and a self-employed English tutor, and her “Validation Assistant” role was her only relevant experience for a complaints or administration role.[592] Other candidates had worked for law firms, the police and other organisations, in roles that included administration of complaints and case management systems. However, Stolliday noted in advance of interviews that “there is one applicant who Sam would be more than happy to recruit for Disputes administrator”.[593]

 

Withers-Green has said following her participation in a BBC Panorama documentary that she didn’t vote for Jeremy Corbyn in 2015 but “wasn’t hostile to him”, doubting “his electoral prospects, not his politics”.[594] This is difficult to reconcile with her role as “Validation Assistant” in the 2016 leadership election. Withers-Green has also recalled that before starting in the role, “I didn’t know anything about the issue” of antisemitism.633 We have found no evidence of her subsequently being given any staff training or formal guidance about antisemitism.

 

The team was also considerably expanded in other areas. Jane Shaw was appointed to the position of Secretary to the NCC, to work full time on arranging NCC hearings. She was also given an administrator assistant, Katy Leighton.

 

A new “safeguarding” team was also created. Sophie Goodyear from “Internal Governance” applied and became “Head of Complaints and Safeguarding”. Instead of an administrator, another applicant Ben Jameson was given the role of “Safeguarding Manager”. Both reported directly to Executive Director Emilie Oldknow.

 

The “Internal” and “External” governance teams were also doubled in size to two staff each, with Claire-Frances Fuller, Stolliday’s former colleague from the Press office, being given the role of Head of Internal Governance.[595][596] Westerman and Matthews discussed this at the time:

 

Sam Matthews 13:36: 

CF Internal

All is well with the world. 

Ben Westerman 13:37: 

that has john written all over it  he’s hilarious  aren’t they best mates?

Sam Matthews 13:37: 

they describe eachother has “office spouses” Ben Westerman 13:37: 

ha 

hilarious that he’s actually sitting in the interview i love a bit of nepotism 

christ imagine them giving it to stephen now Sam Matthews 13:38: 

It’s not materially worse than Mike [Creighton] sitting on mine but his *yes hillarious

Ben Westerman 13:38:  knowing john, he will have literally presented claire with a script and answers[597]

 

Malcolm Powers, formerly a Regional Director, was also appointed to a special role by Stolliday, leading on party development.

 

Monique Shockness, formerly an apprentice in GSO, also started in an administrator role in March 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

In August 2017, Ben Westerman left the team, and on 6 September 2017 Nareser Osei, then “a local campaign organiser for the Party in Hackney”, started as his replacement.[598] Osei had, like Matthews and Withers-Green, previously been a “field organiser” for “Britain Stronger IN Europe”, as well as an intern at the “Tony Blair Faith Foundation”, a “Campaign Organiser” for Tessa Jowell’s campaign to be selected as Labour’s London mayoral candidate, and a Labour borough organiser.[599] Matthews had known Osei for some time, and in a conversation in February 2017, had already mentioned the idea of hiring Osei.[600]

 

This was a considerable expansion of GLU, in all its functions.

 

On 15 December 2016, Westerman and Matthews discussed the fact that they had a “massive” and “huge” team:

 

Ben Westerman 09:08: 

yeah  weird  massive team Sam Matthews 09:09:  huge. 

Ben Westerman 09:09: 

think we’ll be the biggest unit that’s not field[601]

 

It is difficult to understand why, over the following sixteen months, this considerably expanded team did so little work on disciplinary cases to do with antisemitism.

 

 

 

 

3.2.3. Case management systems

“The Work Goes On delivering the new case management database… but there is no timescale yet” – Sam Matthews, February 2017

“We don’t currently keep a comprehensive log of all complaints submitted” – Dan Hogan, 15 September 2017[602]

 

As we have seen, prior to the 2016 leadership election GLU lacked a system for logging and recording complaints. Lists of suspended members would simply be periodically exported from “Members Centre”, and other details then added.

 

For the 2016 leadership election, Labour’s then Lead Developer Richard Shakespeare created a specific system for processing and making decisions on cases at scale. This was viewed as a one-off system, however, and its use was ended shortly after the leadership election.

 

The task of developing a system for logging and recording complaints and cases appears to have sat with both Sam Matthews and Sophie Goodyear, with Matthews responsible for the cases side of things, and Goodyear complaints.

 

To begin with, some further use was made of the “Validation” system. On 14 September 2016, for example, a regional official asked Matthews regarding a complaint “What are we doing on these issues now?” Matthews responded:

 

For non-urgent cases which you’re happy to be dealt with in due course, the best thing to do is upload any evidence you’ve got to the join system (which is still functional, although nothing new will go in front of the panels now) and “send for review”. That will put it in the pile of legacy work that we’ll start on after conference. 

 

If you can’t find the member or get access to the join-system, send it across to validation and we’ll be working through the pile of emails in that inbox after conference.  

 

Urgent matters still send straight over to us.[603]

 

In December 2016, Matthews met “Tangent”, an existing provider of technology for Labour, regarding creating a new “CRM/case management tool”.[604] This was to develop “Members Centre” so it would also have a “GLU tab” for managing cases, where GLU admins could, on a member’s record, open investigations, record evidence, note decisions, and so forth.[605] However, it appears that budget was not fully approved for this, and development was slow.[606]

 

On 2 February 2017 GLU staff therefore created a GLU Microsoft “SharePoint” and uploaded cases to it. Matthews said:

 

The Work Goes On delivering the new case management database within member centre – but there is no timescale yet. We’re going to be using a SharePoint system for the next little while to track where we are with cases as an interim solution.[607]

 

Cas files would typically say the date the case was opened, its category and who it was assigned to. It was also possible to attach evidence files, though this feature never appears to have been used. Six weeks later, Matthews would describe this as “our current rudimentary sharepoint system”.[608]

 

From February 2017 to July 2017, staff used this “rudimentary sharepoint system” for case management.[609] In total, 136 cases were added to it, with the “Opened Date” varying from March 2016 to July 2017. 19 did not have a “Opened Date”, and almost all of the rest (117) dated to October 2016 after the leadership election (44) and spring 2017 (55). In total, 39 of these cases mentioned “Antisemitism” as a “Category”.

 

Use of this case log appears to have been inconsistent and patchy, however, and many cases were also created in it and later dropped completely without explanation.

 

In July 2017, meanwhile, the new “GLU tab” in “Members Centre” was launched, including a “Disputes Case Management” section.[610] On 24-27 July 2017, Lousie Withers-Green logged a large number of ongoing cases in this tab, although without uploading the relevant evidence, which remained on drives or in emails. Thereafter use of this case management system appears to have been inconsistent and patchy.

 

This just pertained to logging actual cases that had been initiated – not all complaints. As GLU staff wrote on 15 September 2017:

 

We don’t currently keep a comprehensive log of all complaints submitted, as they arrive with the Party via a number of different levels (CLPs, Regional/National offices, elected representatives, GLU).

 

However, they hoped that a new system being developed “will allow us to log complaints centrally in the near future.”[611]

 

Creating a system for logging complaints received was in the purview of Sophie Goodyear. As outlined in February 2017, for example:

 

A new unit has recently been set up to provide a ‘one stop shop’ for reporting and handing complaints. The team (made up of Sophie and Ben) are currently writing and will be implementing a brand new complaints procedure that will include new systems for reporting and recording complaints. The procedure should be in place by the start of April and at the point they will have a specific email address that all complaints should be directed to. They will then log the complaint and direct it to the correct part of the organisation to investigate.[612]

 

However, it appears that Goodyear’s main focus was on developing sexual harassment policies for the party, and, with Jameson, safeguarding policies (for example, for young children and vulernable adults).652 Goodyear also worked on drafting various documents on complaints procedures, some guidance for regional staff, and training for sexual harassment and mediation.[613] A 1 December 2016 “braindump” from Oldknow showed some of the work Goodyear and Jameson were to work on:

 

  • Establish CRB checks for regional staff, labour students, youth officers etc – those who are in contact with young people
  • Training – ‘e’ learning and classroom based package – this needs to be across the organisation from our officers in CLPs to our staff
  • Safeguarding information to be added to our staff induction

programme/documentation – outlining what to do/what to look out for/their responsibilities

  • Adding safeguarding statement to the members induction letters/pack
  • Implement the safeguarding policy (obvs)
  • Design, maintain and review the national complaints log
  • SLAs for the complaints – how long for a response, named person etc
  • Vexatious complaints policy – what to do with serial offenders
  • Robust whistleblowing procedure
  • Pull together easily digestible summary sheet of how to make a compliant, what happens with it
  • Sexual harassment policy
  • Develop a team of ‘experts’ to help advise as and when necessary on difficult complaints
  • Work with the Disputes and Investigation teams to work out workflow and who does what.[614]

 

Progress on the “complaints” side of logging was slow. In autumn 2017, “Tangent” was commissioned to develop a complaints management system that would sit alongside and interact with Members’ Centre’s “GLU tab”, based partly on proposals discussed previously but not budgeted for.[615] Named “Complaints Centre”, this was available for testing in late October 2017, and then launched in early November 2017.656

 

“Complaints Centre” was operated primarily by Goodyear’s “Complaints” team, and its functions revolved around complainants rather than respondents. Once a complaint progresses to investigation in “Complaints Centre” and work passes to the Disputes team, that work moves onto the Members’ Centre “GLU tab”, rather than continuing in “Complaints Centre”.

 

The experience of current staff has been that both “Complaints Centre” and the Members’ Centre “GLU tab” are very limited in their functionality. For example:

 

  • The switching between the two systems is confusing, often results in discrepancies in logging between the two systems and contributes to mistakes in recording information.
  • Reporting functions, enabling staff to track and monitor the progress of complaints as a whole, or the work of individual staff members, are completely lacking.
  • There is no system in either for, for example, recording critical information such as recommendations or decisions in a standardised format, or viewing or even exporting such recommendations or decisions.

 

In addition, the Disputes team would for many months continue to create cases themselves in the Members’ Centre “GLU tab” without, generally, creating a case in “Complaints Centre”. Neither system was therefore a comprehensive log of ongoing complaints and their progress. It was only around July 2018 that comprehensive use of both systems began, with all cases being logged in “Complaints Centre” regardless of how they arrived with GLU.

 

3.2.3.i. Assessment

 

As we have seen, Mike Creighton had already identified in December 2015 the need for a means of logging and tracking cases. However, it took till November 2017 for systems to be created, and these were quite dysfunctional. This new system, like past “rudimentary” systems, was also inconsistently and only partially used.

 

Part of the reason this took so long may have been due to it sitting with various different staff members – at first Kat Buckingham, then Matthews and Goodyear jointly. As far as the Party has been able to tell, none of these three staff had any previous experience of administering a complaints process or case management system.

 

Line management may also have been an issue. On 14 June 2017, for example, Goodyear expressed concerns to Matthews about her line management by Oldknow. Goodyear apparently wanted to “move properly into GLU” instead of being managed directly by Oldknow, though Matthews wasn’t sure that would be an improvement:

 

Sophie Goodyear 10:42: 

at another meeting

she emailed to say she will be 15 mins late yesterday she reduced the catch up from 1 hour to half now it is 15 minutes…

i feel very valued

Sam Matthews 10:42: 

maybe you should just front up about wanting to move properly into GLU?  not that I’m sure that’s better….

Sophie Goodyear 10:43: 

yeah i was thinking something along those lines[616]

 

Ultimately, insufficient managerial drive and organisational prioritisation was given to the creation of a system for logging and tracking complaints and disciplinary cases.

 

After the “coup” against Jeremy Corbyn began on 24 June 2016, in a matter of days Labour staff created a system for trawling social media for different search terms, matching that data to member and supporter profiles, and then presenting it to staff and NEC members for consideration and review. They then processed about 10,000 cases, taking thousands of decisions, in just two months. Staff were, evidently, highly motivated to work on the 2016 “Validation” process. Similar motivation and drive appears, unfortunately, to have been lacking for other areas of GLU’s work, such as the creation of a system for logging and tracking complaints and disciplinary cases.

 

One consequence of this was that complaints and cases were repeatedly lost, while progress on existing cases was sporadic and limited.

 

 

 

3.2.4[617]. Post-“Validation” work

“Set a high bar for what we think would be a successful NCC case and issue warnings to those who do not meet that bar”

 

Already before the 2016 leadership election, GLU had a significant backlog of cases to work through. By October 2016, Labour still had 75 members still suspended from before the leadership election, and about 20 of these related to antisemitism.658

 

The “Validation” process had then generated an enormous number of cases and other work for staff to deal with.

 

For example, some people had the right to appeal actions taken against them. By 1 September 2016, the team already reported having “278 emails in the appeals inbox”, and by 6 September they had identified “50 genuine appeals”.[618] By 18 October 2016, there had been 86 appeals.[619] Auto-excluded members did not have any right to appeal, but on Ann Black’s request at least some of these were reviewed.[620]

 

The decision to suspend and exclude people without attaching the relevant evidence, and delays in getting that evidence to people on their request, led to large numbers of people submitting Subject Access Requests (SARs). This created further work for GLU as it is a legal requirement to comply with SARs, and by 14 December 2016 GLU reported having done 297 SARs.662[621] Members could also continue to request the evidence against them by emailing “appeals@labour.org.uk”, which staff had to manage.[622]

 

In addition, the “Validation” email had been openly advertised as the place to send complaints, and a number of MPs, and members of the public, had submitted complaints to it that GLU had not managed to process during the election itself. On 21 September Westerman noted that

 

there are still anywhere between 1000-1500 emails still to deal with in the validation inbox and we couldn’t have got through them all.[623]

 

It seems that complaints sent to this inbox were never comprehensively covered. In

November 2016 Ben Westerman did go through 96 cases from such emails, noting “I’ve only gone for the very worst.” By 28 November, Westerman had proposed “Further action” for 23 cases (of which 4 involved antisemitism); no actions for two; and warnings for 72. He suggested:

 

I propose a two-tick system similar to the NEC panels whereby if two of us agree on severity, then we further action them, and warnings if not.

 

It is not clear if this ever happened, but by 17 February 2017 Westerman had followed up and acted on all four antisemitism cases. Having now spot-checked a number of the 72 cases of proposed “warnings”, however, it appears that none of these were ever enacted.[624]

 

Other emails in the “Validation” inbox were simply never dealt with. For example, on 12 August 2016 Councillor Alice Smart submitted a complaint about Annette Davies, attaching a series of tweets where Davies wrote about “Zionist controlled Judiciary” and “Rothschild scum”. We have no evidence of any action being taken.

 

After discovering this case in our historical audits, we have investigated and suspended Davies.[625]

 

Finally, there were the reported 1,024 pre-existing members who had been placed under “administrative suspension pending investigation” during the 2016 leadership “Validation” operation.[626]

 

On 2 October 2016, Black suggested to GLU that “if the offence relates to abusive language on social media, should we write seeking regret / undertaking not to do it again? Or perhaps send them Tom Watson’s pledge which was agreed by the NEC on 20 September, and ask them to sign?”[627] Similarly, on 4 October 2016 Black – having been informed of an antisemitism complaint resolved through interview and apology – relayed that she was hoping this approach could be used “for members excluded during the leadership contest for unacceptable posts on social media, and in some cases without the need for detailed investigation”. Stolliday commented “I think [this is] basically where we are as well”.[628]

 

This had, after all, been GLU’s approach to date, and on 4 October Matthews likewise wrote to Regional Directors, on “Administrative suspensions & investigations”, explaining:

 

there are 2 possible courses of action for these members – send to the NEC disputes panel with the recommendation of a full NCC hearing or lift the suspension with a warning about future conduct. It is our hope that most of the cases involved will be the latter.[629]

 

In the end, GLU decided to take a two-pronged approach to these cases.

 

Firstly, following an apparently rapid review of the evidence already received, the vast majority of these cases – 840 – simply had their suspensions lifted with a “warning” (termed an “NEC Warning” on the grounds that staff were using powers delegated from the NEC, although the cases never went to the NEC). On 18 October 2016 GLU reported to the NEC that “[m]any” of the investigations into “Validation” suspensions “had already begun”, and “[w]e have concluded a total of 102 investigations where the recommended action has been to lift the suspension with a warning.”[630] In October stock “warning letters” were prepared,[631] and by 8 November 2016, 840 members had had their suspensions lifted with a warning, each receiving letters to that effect, with some variance in content relating to the evidence against them.[632]

 

The vast majority of these “warning” cases – 712 – had the category of “abusive language and conduct”, while 44 had “supporting another party”, 33 “antisemitism” (3.9%), 30 crowdfunding for other members’ fees and 21 “bigotry and prejudicial abuse”.675

 

The rapidity with which these decisions were reviewed, and the suspensions lifted, seems to have reflected the seriousness of the evidence involved.

 

Aside from these 840, another 230 “Validation” suspensions were designated for further investigation. Matthews described these as “more complex cases which require an interview”.[633] 36 of them – 16% – included a reference to antisemitism as the category or a cause.

 

On 8 November 2016, Disputes officer Ben Westerman shared with GLU and Regions a spreadsheet of these 230 cases “which have been agreed as “further action” and need to be investigated further by either regional teams or the GLU”. GLU was assigned 88 (38%) of the cases and regional staff the other 142 (62%). He noted that “most urgently” they needed to contact the members involved:

 

We are already a bit late on this and they are in limbo having not heard anything but are probably aware of the lift letters that went out, so need those sent out as quickly as possible.[634] 

 

Regional staff would investigate and come up with recommendations, which would be discussed with GLU before being actioned.[635]

 

These investigations involved arranging interviews over the phone or in-person, then reviewing the evidence and making an assessment and recommendation. This was, at the time (and as Stolliday had outlined on 12 September),[636] standard GLU practice for cases, and on 18 November 2016 Matthews emailed all GLU staff and Regional Directors a “guide on conducting an internal investigation and investigative interviewing”. This provided extensive guidance on interview invitations and methods, including template emails and responses to members’ frequently asked questions. Other than a brief, bracketed reference in a flow diagram to “or written statement request” beside “Interview Invitations sent”, there was nothing further on proceeding in this manner – an interview was the norm.[637]

 

The flow diagram also reiterated GLU’s inclination towards lifting suspensions and issuing warnings. Only two options were actually noted for investigator’s recommendation: “no further action” and lifting suspension, or “Recommendation… for a full NCC hearing which could result in expulsion from the party”, at which point the member would be “suspended if not already”. Only those cases would be taken to the NEC, which would in turn refer to the NCC or decide another outcome.[638]

 

GLU, as Westerman wrote on 8 November 2016, was “aiming to have as many of these as we possibly can concluded in time for January’s meeting of the NEC disputes panel.”[639] On 21 November Buckingham reported that “We expect that by January, the majority of those 230 will be either lifted or reported to Disputes”,[640] while the following day Matthews reiterated that “A significant proportion” of these people “will be taken to Disputes in January”.[641]

 

These plans were not fulfilled. Only four of the “Validation” cases were taken to the

January 2017 NEC Disputes. On 2 February 2017, following discussion with Creighton, Matthews presented a new plan for dealing with these cases. He noted there were currently “192 remaining suspensions resulting from the validation process”, of which “70 sit with the Disputes team and 122 sit with the regions”.[642] (In the preceding 12 weeks, GLU had thus apparently resolved 18 cases, and Regions 20 – 17% of the total, all through lifting suspensions and ending the cases.)

 

Matthews attached a PDF, probably exported from Richard Shakespeare’s web app, of “Open cases by Investigating Officer”, listing cases under each regional director or GLU staff. Under category and the person responsible, however, the only information on “Status” was whether it was “Active” or “Resolved”.

 

Matthews’ new plan outlined that for the cases with GLU, investigations officers would:

 

Set a high bar for what we think would be a successful NCC case and issue warnings to those who do not meet that bar.[643]

 

Therefore, all cases that were not expected to meet a “high bar” of what would be a “successful NCC case” – an expulsion – would simply be resolved through staff warnings.

 

With Regions, meanwhile, Matthews planned to email Regional Directors “a list of those who I think are currently still sitting with them and ask for an update on each case”. Where respondents had not yet replied, GLU would take over the cases, and for the rest GLU would work with Regions on recommendations.[644]

 

As Matthews explained:

 

We’ll issue warnings and get them off of the suspensions list before Disputes and we just need to be confident in all the NCC cases we’re taking forward (however many that may be).[645]

 

One cause of delays in this period was respondents simply not responding to emails. Neither GLU nor regional staff had any guidance as to how to proceed in this case, and would typically send a chaser and then leave the case, waiting for a response.

 

A number of these cases were progressed in this period, however – but mainly, again, by interviewing and then lifting the suspensions with a warning.

 

On 25 November 2016, 299 members were suspended, of which 69 had cases relating to antisemitism (though some were still being lifted).[646] Most of these cases dated to the 2016 “Validation” process, and by January 2019, there were still 75 members whose suspensions dated to before 2018, including 28 from 2016, 4 from 2015 and 2 from 2013-14.[647]

 

3.2.4.i. Assessment

 

The Party has identified many problems that led to GLU’s delays in investigating these “Validation” cases, which the Party has since rectified:

 

  • Lack of a system for logging and tracking the progress of cases:

 

Beyond the “Validation” web app created by Shakespeare for reviewing evidence put into that system, GLU seem to have lacked a case management system. In recognition of this, on 2 February 2017, Matthews created a new “rudimentary sharepoint system”,[648] using Microsoft SharePoint: “The Work Goes On delivering the new case management database within member centre – but there is no timescale yet. We’re going to be using a SharePoint system for the next little while to track where we are with cases as an interim solution”.[649] A few months later, this rudimentary system was abandoned in favour of another rudimentary system, and then a few months later that was partly replaced with another limited system, that the staff initially only partly used. The lack of an effective case management system or process was one reason why progress was so slow and (as we shall see) cases became “lost”.

 

  • Distribution of cases to Regions:

 

Cases were divided up between central GLU and Regional staff. However, GLU lacked effective means of tracking work undertaken by Regional staff, or any effective line of sight or oversight regarding work they did on this. This often caused delays and gaps where cases would not progress at all, including due to confusion over whether GLU or Region was actually responsible for cases.

 

  • An approach orientated towards dealing with individual cases of member conduct, not large numbers of cases based on screenshots of social media activity:

 

Going back and forth with people on arranging a time to speak or meet, and then interviewing them, was an extremely time consuming way to investigate cases that solely involved screenshots of social media conduct. While this can be appropriate when dealing with a small number of cases involving, for example, contested allegations of bullying and harassment, this approach was unnecessary and inefficient when progressing hundreds of cases concerning social media screenshots.

 

In addition, the decision to focus on taking forward only the most extreme cases; the practice of examining existing evidence only, without extra systematic social media searches; and a lack of training or guidance on how to proceed with cases, also led to some decisions which were not at all appropriate or sufficiently robust.

 

For example, as discussed earlier, the Holocaust denier Sarah Wilkinson had her suspension lifted without warning in January 2017.[650] Less than two months later, some further evidence was flagged to the team and a “case” created in GLU’s “SharePoint”, but no further action was taken, and Wilkinson remained a member until her resignation in October 2018.[651]

 

Siamak Alimi, meanwhile, had been suspended for a range of posts on “Zios”, the “Zio lobby”, and so forth. In December 2016 regional staff had interviewed Alimi by phone. Due to a mistake in the evidence provision, however, he was only asked about a single retweet, and on the basis of his agreement that the term “Zio” was offensive, it was suggested his suspension be lifted with a warning. In January 2017 a letter was sent to this effect.

 

In March 2017, however, Disputes administrator Louise Withers-Green spotted that much of the evidence did not appear to have been looked at. The Disputes officer involved, Dan Hogan, now thought “this might call for an NCC case, rather than warning”. As Alimi’s suspension had already been lifted, Hogan reported that he was “looking at what he’s tweeted since” to see if he could “reopen a case”. On 24 March

2017 a case was created in GLU’s “SharePoint”, with the note “Issue new NoI, based on [new] conduct”. However, no further action was taken, while complaints about Alimi from “Labour Against Antisemitism” in December 2017 were also ignored. It was only in late March 2018, in the transition period between general secretaries, that those complaints were picked up, and in May 2018 Alimi was suspended.[652]

 

Terry Flanagan, similarly, had been suspended for numerous antisemitic and abusive emails about “Israeli Mossad… orchestrating the attack on… Jeremy Corbyn”, a “Jewish millionaire”, and similar. On 16 January 2017, however, Westerman lifted the suspension with a warning.

 

As one complainant continued to pursue the case and offer new evidence, the case was subsequently re-opened and on 27 February 2017 Westerman sent Flanagan a further “Notice of Investigation”. Thereafter, the case was lost, due in part to the lack of a functioning case system – despite being raised a number of times – and it was not until January 2020 that Flanagan was again suspended – again, for an abusive and antisemitic email.[653]

 

Another example was Brian Lovett-White, suspended for commenting that “Coke [was] clouding [Matthews’] thinking.” Lovett was one of the 840 members who had their suspensions “lifted with warning” in November 2016, without further investigation. Lovett has since been reported to the party for a range of antisemitic and abusive social media activity, and was suspended in August 2019. Because such searches were not conducted in 2016, Lovett had his membership restored and was allowed to remain an active member of the party for many more years, until he was suspended in 2019, on the basis mainly of evidence gathered by staff. He has since resigned from the party.[654]

 

Similarly, Patricia Sheerin was also suspended during the “Validation” process for “directly tweeting abuse to MPs”. Further social media checks were not conducted, which would have revealed a range of extreme antisemitic materials including

Holocaust denial. Instead, her suspension was among the 840 lifted in October 2016.[655]

 

Finally, Alex Allardyce was flagged during “Validation” for writing about “THE ZIONIST CONTROLLED USA”, and calling Bill Clinton a “ZIONIST BASTARD”. However, his entry received the tag “NO ACTION – Bad evidence” – although the identity match was very clear-cut – and no action was taken. In 2018 Allardyce received a staff-issued NEC Warning for a complaint relating to different evidence, and in February 2020 he was suspended after this initial evidence was discovered in our historical audits, based on the totality of past evidence and results from further social media searches.[656]

 

From this small sample of cases, it is clear that, although it reduced staff’s workload, “setting the bar high”, combined with the lack of systematic further investigations of social media, helped lead to some extreme antisemites being “let off” and readmitted back into full party membership. This is one reason why the Party does not take such an approach now, and, on the contrary, investigates individuals fully even though it leads to the creation of significantly more cases and increases the workload of the team – as there is no place for antisemitism in the Labour Party.

 

 

3.2.5. The new complaints process

 

From 25 November 2016 to 19 February 2018, the formal process for deciding on action on complaints, including antisemitism complaints, was as follows:

 

  • Complainants would email “Legal Queries”, an inbox also used for queries for GLU’s internal and external governance teams.
  • A GLU administrator would forward complaints from “Legal Queries” to “Disputes”. (It is not clear why the process was not simply that complaints were sent to “Disputes” in the first place.)
  • Disputes team staff managing the “Disputes” inbox would investigate complaints to identify the Labour member(s) they related to, and make an initial judgement about whether there was a case for action.
  • If they felt a case merited action, Disputes team staff would forward the complaint from “Disputes” to Sam Matthews, Head of Disputes, for his assessment and sign-off.
  • Head of Disputes Sam Matthews would then decide on the course of action to take, and inform the staff managing the “Disputes” inbox and “Investigation Officers” as appropriate.

 

The below flowchart, produced in August 2017, attempted to explain this process

(with additional reference to Regional Directors):[657]

 

 

(LWG – Louise Withers-Green; S – Sam Matthews; RD – Regional Director; SG – Sophie Goodyear)

 

The relevant parts of this process were advertised both publicly and internally:

 

  • On 25 November 2016, GLU administrator Rebecca Childs noted that the “Validation” inbox was now closed and sending an autoresponse: “This mailbox is no longer active. If you have a complaint, please contact

legal_queries@labour.org.uk.” She explained: “Please send any queries you get which you would normally send to “Validation”, along to “Legal Queries”. The Disputes team will be getting their own email address but this will be for internal use only. I’ll be filtering everything through Legal Queries.”[658]

  • On 25 November 2016 the “Disputes” inbox began operating. From then on,

“Legal Queries” would forward complaints to “Disputes”.[659]

  • On 9 March 2017, Sam Mathews advised a Regional Organiser “we don’t check the validation inbox anymore – anyone emailing it gets a bounce-back saying that this account is closed and they should email legal queries”, advising him to email complaints to “Legal Queries”.[660]
  • In response to a complaint made directly to him on 28 September 2017, John Stolliday responded: “The “Legal Queries” email address you have included is the correct one for complaints of this nature. I will ask that team to look at your complaint as quickly as possible.”

 

However, throughout this period, this process rarely functioned.

 

Inboxes were not managed, critical stages in this process would go months without staff working on them, and the most critical step – Head of Disputes Sam Matthews’ input and decision-making – was almost entirely absent.

 

 

3.2.5.i. First step: forwarding to Disputes

 

It appears that it was only the first step of the process – forwarding of complaints from “Legal Queries” to “Disputes” – that was consistently undertaken, by GLU administrator Monique Shockness.

 

It is not clear, however, why this step was necessary, given a separate email address could simply have been advertised as the address for complaints.

 

3.2.5.ii. Second step: assessing complaints (managing inbox)

 

The next step – assessing complaints forwarded to the “Disputes” inbox, in order to then identify members and suggest action – was done inconsistently, and only ever incompletely.

 

For more than two and a half months to 13 February 2017, the “Disputes” inbox, now the official destination for all complaints, appears to have been unmanaged.

Matthews asked Disputes officer Hogan to tend to some of the emails in the inbox in

December, but in total just six emails were sent from “Disputes” between 25

November 2016 and 16 January 2017, followed by a four week gap.[661]

 

On 13 February 2017, Louise Withers-Green started managing the inbox, in her new role as “Disputes” administrator. She began processing complaints received since the very opening of the inbox on 25 November 2016.[662] Withers-Green performed this role going forwards, with a gap during the 2017 general election.

 

However, work on the inbox was never comprehensive – many complaints forwarded to the inbox appear to simply never have been addressed. Between 12 June and 21 September 2017, 171 emails were sent from this inbox, about two per working day. In autumn 2017, moreover, Withers-Green was increasingly moved onto other work and the “Disputes” inbox became even less attended to. From 22 September to 17 October 2017 no emails were sent from “Disputes”, and on Monday 6 November WithersGreen was moved to work on a “backlog” in the newer “Complaints” inbox.[663] From this point on, the “Disputes” inbox appears to have been left completely unmanaged – for four and a half months.

 

Between 4 November 2017 and 28 February 2018, just five emails were sent from “Disputes”, and – without other key staff being cc-ed – no action appears to have been taken on any antisemitism complaints forwarded there. Throughout this period, however, the GLU administrator, Monique Shockness, continued to forward all complaints from “Legal Queries” to “Disputes”.

 

The Complaints@labour.org.uk email address was created in 2015. In November 2017, as high profile allegations  concerning complaints of sexual harassment and assault were reported, it began to be used as a new entry point for complaints, and was publicised as such. There was an overlap in the role of inboxes, however, and many complainants continued to submit complaints to “Legal Queries”, where the

GLU administrator in turn continued to manually forward complaints to “Disputes”.

 

Withers-Green’s “Complaints” inbox work was focused mainly on dealing with complaints of sexual harassment.[664] For example, in November up until 29 November, 56 complaints were logged, of which 28 were cases of sexual harassment and none antisemitism (and replies were only, at that stage, being sent for sexual harassment cases).[665]

 

On 27 November 2017 Withers-Green raised concerns with Matthews about “where I feel things are going wrong and the massive gaps we have”. This partly related to other Labour employees being seconded into GLU to help with the increased numbers of cases, but without being given any guidance.

 

She wrote that:

 

Complaints that are not sexual harassment are not being dealt with at all.  This is generally due to there being a lot of them.  They have been divided up between me and the seconded complaints staff to deal with.  I appear to be the only one dealing with any of them.  I think this is because seconded staff inevitably spend half their time doing their actual jobs, as well as many complaints being boring and tricky to deal with.  It takes quite a lot of experience to know how a complaint is best dealt with, for people joining us there is no guidance on this.[666]

 

Withers-Green was also unsure what actually happened to complaints after they were logged in “Complaints Centre”.[667]

 

Withers-Green forwarded her concerns to Emilie Oldknow, who raised it to a wider group including Matthews and Stolliday. On her first point, Oldknow asked “Can we look at a process of what she means by not being dealt with – does she mean just with Dan [Hogan]? How can we help with this?”[668] Matthews, however, responded:

 

I don’t think point 1 refers to Dan or disputes. Dan is very busy dealing with a handful of non-SH bigger projects (like Slough), but him, Nareser and Ellie are keeping other matters ticking along as well. I believe Lou is referring to is complaints which are going into complaints@labour.org.uk which are not Sexual Harassment are currently not being reviewed, categorised or passed onto us for an investigation to be started. I think this is just a matter of having staff resource covering that inbox.[669]

 

Withers-Green confirmed she was talking about the “Complaints” inbox:

 

complaints coming to the complaints inbox and just sitting there. I monitor the ones that come in new to check if they’re SH and randomly work through some of oldest ones, but there’s already a massive backlog in that inbox.[670]

 

Following this, effort was made to clear complaints in the “Complaints” inbox, which on 4 December 2017 still had “around 295 emails in it”. Staff focused on clearing the backlog, whilst flagging for immediate logging any incoming sexual harassment cases, which alone would be categorised as “high priority”.[671] On 14 December, however, head of complaints Sophie Goodyear still described this as a “huge backlog of complaints”.[672] (On 22 March 2018, similarly, Complaints staff were still “busy working through a backlog” stretching back at least two months.)[673]

 

The priority was logging sexual harassment, and as Withers-Green noted, it was unclear what was actually happening with other cases logged. Between November 2017 and 14 February 2018, just thirteen antisemitism cases were logged in “Complaints Centre”, and most of these were not accompanied by any action.

 

Moreover, Matthew’s assurance to Oldknow that the “Disputes” inbox was being managed, and his team were “keeping other matters ticking along”, does not appear to have been accurate. In November and December 2017 just two emails were sent from “Disputes”, both by Matthews, and none of the numerous antisemitism complaints forwarded to “Disputes” in this period, without other key staff cc-ed, were acted on. From 3 November 2017 to mid-March 2018, the inbox does not appear to have had anyone working on it.

 

The apparent intention was that “Complaints” would be the new starting point for complaints, but this does not seem to have been clear to staff. On 13 February 2018, for example, Matthews himself forwarded a complaint, sent to him directly, to “Complaints”, advising the complainant they “will look at it and come back to you. In future, please direct complaints to that inbox rather than to me directly.”[674]

 

However, the administrator working on “Legal Queries” continued to forward complaints to “Disputes” throughout this period. “Complaints” was also forwarding cases to “Disputes” for action, although that inbox was not being managed. For example, on 25 and 29 January 2018 “Complaints” forwarded three complaints of Islamophobia and online abuse to “Disputes”. On 21 March and 29 March 2018 when the “Disputes” inbox was being worked on, “Disputes” forwarded them back to “Complaints”.[675]

 

Senior staff were aware that there were issues with covering the inboxes. For example, on 4 December 2017 Stolliday emailed Matthews to enquire about a case he had forwarded previously, and commented that it was “probably languishing in Disputes inbox”.[676] The issue was not fully spotted or addressed until mid-February 2018, after which a meeting was held on the role of inboxes, and Shockness was apparently advised to forward complaints to “Complaints” rather than “Disputes”.

 

It remains unclear why, for four months:

 

  • After Louise Withers-Green was moved to working on the “Complaints” inbox, the “Disputes” inbox was apparently left completely unmanaged.
  • It was not communicated to “Complaints” staff that the “Disputes” inbox was not being managed, and Matthews instead told Oldknow it was being managed. -Matthews apparently failed to advise Shockness to forward emails to “Complaints” rather than “Disputes”, despite the fact he accessed that inbox and so would have seen the cases being sent there.

 

All the staff involved – Sam Matthews, Sophie Goodyear, Louise Withers-Green and Monique Shockness – worked in the same office, and according to the seating plan, sat in a row next to each other.[677]

 

The Labour Party believes that this was, unfortunately, indicative of the level of thought being put into Labour’s disciplinary procedures at the time.

 

 

3.2.5.iii. Complaints missed after being forwarded to Disputes

 

Throughout 2017, numerous complaints of extreme antisemitism from Labour members were received, and, after being forwarded from “Legal Queries” to “Disputes”, simply ignored.

 

For example, on 7 October 2017 Jewish Labour member Colin Appleby reported Robert Cullen for tweeting about a “Zionist cancer” in the Middle East, “Zionist scum” and “Zionist puppets”. “Legal Queries” forwarded this to “Disputes”, and promised to

Appleby that the party would “review the evidence and take any appropriate action.”

 

Cullen’s identity was easy to identify and match to Members Centre. However, no case was created anywhere, and no further action appears to have been taken. (The case was uncovered in our historical audits, and, on the basis of Cullen’s support for Chris Williamson standing against Labour, he has now been auto-excluded from the party.)[678]

 

In late October 2017, meanwhile, Appleby submitted a complaint about Andrew Lee Thompson for repeated Holocaust denial and other extreme antisemitism. This was forwarded to “Disputes”, but no further action was then taken.

 

Danny Adilypour, advisor to Labour Party Deputy Leader Tom Watson, had also submitted a complaint about Thompson for abusive behaviour on 2 December 2016, directly to Matthews, Buckingham and Stolliday. On 8 March 2017 Matthews had forwarded this to Hogan, who searched Thompson’s Facebook and saved information proving his identity and an array of evidence of antisemitism, including antisemitic graphics depicting prominent US Democrats and Republicans as Jews, and writing in detail about “Zionist” control of America. However, no further action was then taken.

 

In November 2017 Jewish Labour Movement member Stephane Savary also submitted a complaint about Thompson, providing not only evidence of his explicit, repeated Holocaust denial, but even a photo of his Labour Party membership card including his membership number. His complaint was forwarded from “Legal Queries” to “Disputes”, but, again, no action was taken or case logged anywhere.

 

It was only in July 2018, under the new GLU team, that Thompson was suspended, when the JLM submitted a dossier of antisemitism that included evidence on Thompson.[679]

 

From spring 2017 onwards “Labour Against Antisemitism” (LAAS) submitted complaints about dozens of Labour members, often for gross and extreme antisemitism. However, as discussed later, the vast majority of these complaints, though forwarded from “Legal Queries” to “Disputes”, received no further action at this stage.

 

This even included some cases of people whose membership numbers were located by Shockness. On 6 September 2017, for example, LAAS submitted a dossier, “Report 15”, which included, among other things:

 

  • ten pages of screenshots from Jan Patterson promoting gross antisemitism, including claims of Rothschilds inventing Nazism; Soros and Hilary Clinton being Rothschild puppets; and a post on “Jewish power.”
  • twenty pages of screenshots from David Powell, including numerous examples of gross antisemitism, such as repeated Rothschild conspiracies; posting about Jews receiving a “Jew call” on 9/11; the “Jewish House of Rothschild”; “Zionist neocon Jews”; and Zionist Hollywood “Media programming”.

 

Shockness identified six members from the report, including Patterson and Powell, and sent their membership numbers to Withers-Green at “Disputes”, who thanked her: “SUPER UNREAL LEVELS OF HELPFUL MON!”

 

However, we have no record of Withers-Green or any other staff taking any further action, and no cases were logged anywhere. These cases were uncovered in our historical audits, and Patterson and Powell have now been suspended pending referral to the NEC for expulsion.[680]

 

Similarly, on 31 August 2017 LAAS submitted a complaint about Paul French, for tweeting that “the mainstream MSM media… get their orders from Tel Aviv”. He was easy to match to the appropriate Labour membership record, as he used, for example, his email address as the basis for his Twitter handle. On 1 September “Legal Queries” forwarded the complaint to “Disputes” saying “Not sure there’s much in this”. On 19 September “Legal Queries” also responded “Thank you for your email. We will review the evidence and take any appropriate action.”

 

No further action was taken, however.

 

In February 2018, French lapsed from membership, and since discovering this case we have added a flag to his profile to prevent him from re-joining.[681]

 

 

 

 

 

3.2.5.iv. Third step: Disputes authorise action

 

The “Disputes” inbox was inconsistently managed; never cleared; and for months was not managed at all, resulting in numerous cases of extreme antisemitism from identifiable Labour members being ignored.

 

In the periods where Withers-Green did manage the inbox, though, she did act on some cases, identifying members and forwarding them to Sam Matthews with proposals for action.

 

However, in the vast majority of these cases, Matthews does not appear to have replied or taken any action at all.

 

3.2.5.v. Complaints forwarded to Head of Disputes and then ignored

 

On 5 February 2017 Luisa Attfield, a young Jewish member of the Labour Party, submitted a complaint about several individuals including Ilona Csatlos-Graudins. The evidence included a screenshot of Csatlos-Graudins sharing a post titled “Meet the Jews in Donald Trump’s inner circle”. On 17 February 2017, Withers-Green forwarded this to Matthews for investigation, identifying Csatlos-Graudins as a member and providing her membership number.

 

Matthews did not reply, and we have no record of any case being logged, or any further action being taken. On 1 January 2018 “LAAS” then submitted a complaint about Csatlos-Graudins, which included evidence of her:

 

  • Sharing a YouTube video titled “Zionist – How to Kill Goyim children”
  • Sharing videos on “Rothschild and the illuminati”
  • Posting an image with a series of Jewish men on it, reading “know your enemy these men rule the world”

 

This complaint was also ignored at first, until being picked up at the end of February 2018 (discussed later).

 

Similarly, on 5 January 2017 Rebecca Filer, a JLM member, submitted a complaint about Patrick Mansfield, for repeatedly writing and sharing content about “Zio-Nazis”, the “Cult of Zionism” and “Ziobots”. As well as emailing “Legal Queries”, Filer had sent this to “Validation”, who on 20 January 2017 forwarded it to Dan Hogan: “One for you?” Hogan did not reply.

 

On 15 February 2017, Withers-Green forwarded the complaint to Matthews for action, identifying the member and writing:

 

I think this is definitely a case.725

 

Instead of suspending or investigating Mansfield, Matthews did not reply, and we have no record of any case being logged, or any action being taken.

 

In March 2017 Disputes also identified Mansfield in David Collier’s PSC Report, with the note “Holocaust denial”. However, again, no action was taken.

 

On 19 July 2017 Mansfield’s membership lapsed, and on 21 September 2017 WithersGreen added “Must refer to GLU” to his record.

 

Another case submitted by Rebecca Filer, on 29 January 2017, was similarly sent by Withers-Green to Matthews on 16 February 2017. David Jessep was shown writing that:

 

what is at the heart of everything is Zionism and the infiltration within. It is spread like a virus.

 

Matthews did not reply, and we have no record of any case being logged, or any action being taken. After this complaint was discovered in our historical audits, a new case and investigation has been opened into Jessep.726

 

On 9 May 2017, meanwhile, Jessica Naish from “LAAS” had submitted two documents of screenshots of alleged “Abuse from Labour members”. On 21 August 2017 WithersGreen accessed this email and identified Labour member John Arthur Thatcher. She conducted further searches on his Facebook, saving posts in which Thatcher talked about “Zionist influence on the British election” and the “Zionist lobby”; “Zionist settler scum”; “Zionist pogroms”; his desire to see “the zionists” removed from Labour; and North Korean nuclear weapons being legal if the country “converted… to Judaism”. She forwarded the case to Matthews suggesting “Investigation into antisemitism”.

 

Matthews did not respond, and we have no record of any further action being taken.

 

                                             

  • 2017 Investigate – no action: “170215 FW Patrick Mansfield – Antisemitism.msg”
  • 2017 Investigate – no action: “170216 FW David Jessep.msg”

In autumn 2019 our historical audits uncovered this case, and systematic social media searches revealed a wide range of gross antisemitism throughout his membership, including repeated Holocaust denial and a graphic of Jewish Zionist Rothschilds controlling the federal reserve and orchestrating wars. Thatcher was suspended in 2019 and then resigned from the party.[682]

 

Similarly, on 3 July 2017 a complaint was submitted about multiple Labour members for antisemitism, which included a range of antisemitic comments from Susan Diane

Grant about the “Zio-occupied world”. On 4 July 2017 “Legal Queries” forwarded this to “Disputes”, and on 22 August 2017 Withers-Green identified Grant and saved one further antisemitic post from her Facebook. She forwarded it to Matthews:

 

Ms Susan Diane Grant… Investigation into antisemitism based on the attached.

 

Matthews did not respond, and we have no record of any further action being taken.

 

On 21 September 2017 and 10 October 2017, meanwhile, LAAS submitted dossiers containing further antisemitic posts by Grant. These were forwarded from “Legal

Queries” to “Disputes”, but we can find no evidence of any further action being taken.

 

In autumn 2019 our historical audits uncovered this case, and systematic social media searches revealed a range of antisemitism including explicit Holocaust denial and support for Gilad Atzmon. Grant was suspended and in February 2020 expelled under the NEC’s new expulsion powers.[683]

 

Andrew Bryant was also flagged in Naish’s 3 July 2017 submission, and then identified by Withers-Green and forwarded to Matthews for action on 22 August 2017. Naish documented directly antisemitic comments by Bryant, including:

 

I am sick to death of hearing and reading about moaning jews in this world as if suddeny they are more important than anyone else!!!! If you don’t like it here fuck off![684]

 

Matthews did not reply, and no action was taken. In 2019, however, separate complaints led to Bryant’s suspension.

 

In May and July 2017, meanwhile, complaints were submitted about Brian LovettWhite (previously suspended after suggesting that Sam Matthews used cocaine), with evidence including alleged antisemitism. On 19 July 2017 Withers-Green identified his membership number and forwarded evidence to Matthews, which included LovettWhite saying “Zionism IS antisemitism” and alleging Zionist-Nazi collaboration.

 

Matthews did not reply, no case was logged and no action appears to have been taken.

 

In 2019, a separate complaint, combined with our systematic social media searches, led to Lovett-White’s suspension.

 

On 4 April 2017, meanwhile, Ken Livingstone had received a two-year suspension as a sanction from the NCC. Dan Hogan apparently saw a Labour member, Pete Moyes, react negatively, and Hogan then saved two screenshots from his profile, in one of which Moyes said “the fucking zioscum” are doing a “Holocaust” in Palestine. On 6 April 2017 Hogan created a case in “SharedPoint” for Moyes, with the note “Spotted by DH in KL aftermath. Need to issue NoI”.

 

Two weeks later, on 18 April 2017, another complaint was separately submitted about Moyes talking about the “zioscum… behind all the conflict on the planet in pursuit of debt slavery of all the countries”. On 14 June 2017 Withers-Green forwarded this to Matthews with further screenshots saved, which included Moyes writing about the “zio owned media”, “fucking zioshits controlling camoron… the zio’s control the media”, and sharing text about the “Zio-Jewish nonce arch-Buggerers of British Children at the British Brainwashing Corporation”. “Undoubtedly anti Semitism”, she wrote, providing Moyes’ membership number.

 

Matthews did not reply and we have no record of any further action being taken, or the evidence being saved anywhere.

 

Separately, on 21 November 2017 Hogan created a case for Moyes in Members Centre, “GLU Tab”, with the category of “antisemitism”. No evidence or explanation was attached, and we have no record of any further action being taken.

 

Moyes was suspended in November 2018 following a new complaint, and in May 2019 his membership lapsed. Evidence included him saying that “Russian Bolshevist Communism was Talmudic” and “the Jewish media continues to hide the fact that the communists were Jews”; denying the Holocaust; claiming that “Zionists… backed Hitler and the nazis”; and talking about “zioscum masters” and their “ultimate agenda of wiping out the goyim”.

 

Between 13 February 2017 and 3 November 2017, the Party has found that Louise

Withers-Green forwarded at least 27 complaints of antisemitism to Matthews with proposals for action, with the relevant Labour members’ membership numbers attached, that did not receive any response or action at all from Matthews. When Withers-Green performed the role designated for her, in the vast majority of cases, the members she identified for action simply were not acted on by Matthews.[685]

 

Other staff also identified some Labour members engaging in antisemitism. A particularly notable example was in March 2017. On 9 March 2017 Labour activist Patrick Lilley emailed Dan Hogan, saying it had been “Good to catch up just now”, and “Since we spoke today this came to my mind and I’d like to flag it up with you in case it got lost in the system.”[686] He attached a link to a report by David Collier on antisemitism in the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), specifically flagging Labour member Elleanne Green.

 

Hogan then emailed this PSC report to Westerman and Withers-Green, dividing an investigation into possible Labour members included in the report between the three of them (with Matthews in cc):

 

We need to check whether any are Labour members, and for the ones which are, capture anything dodgy from their timelines before it’s deleted.[687]

 

A spreadsheet shows that, in total, the team then identified 27 current Labour members for investigation regarding antisemitism.[688] A number of these members had their timelines searched and screenshots saved in the Disputes team’s shared disciplinary folders.

 

However, no action was then taken in relation to any of these people (with the exception of Elleanne Green. An NOI was issued to Green in April 2017 over separate complaints. Green was later suspended in July 2018 and expelled by an NEC panel in January 2020).

 

For example, Norma Frye was documented as having shared numerous antisemitic conspiracy theories, including Holocaust denial, and identified by the team as a Labour member. Cookie McBride was, likewise, identified as a Labour member sharing antisemitic conspiracy theories. But no action was then taken against either, and no case was logged anywhere.

 

In September 2019 these cases were discovered in historical audits, both Fyre and

McBride were suspended, and in December 2019 they were expelled by the NEC.[689]

 

Our historical audits have now led to 8 Labour members in this report into PSC, which was reported to GLU in March 2017, receiving suspensions and NOIs, and some have now been expelled. Others identified in the report had subsequently been reported separately and had already had action taken against them. Patricia Sheerin, for example, was documented in the report as promoting antisemitic conspiracy theories and identified by staff as a member at this time. No action was then taken, but the case later returned in March 2018 and she has resigned since being suspended.

Others that would have received action have since lapsed or resigned from the party. For example, Sarah Wilkinson, whose suspension Westerman had lifted without warning in January 2017, was identified as supporting Holocaust denial. In her case, this was actually logged in GLU’s “SharedPoint”, with a folder created in their shared drive. In July 2017 a case was then logged in Members Centre’s “GLU tab”. No action was actually taken against her, however, and in October 2018 she resigned.[690]

 

A few were also misidentifications. For example, GLU had, on the basis of this report, identified a councillor David Carter as engaging in Holocaust denial – and then taken no action. Fortunately, this was actually a different David Carter.

 

In total, the Party has found that there were more than 70 cases in this period where GLU staff had themselves identified or been made aware of the membership numbers of Labour members accused of engaging in antisemitism, in most cases allegations that were very serious and well documented, but no action was then taken.[691]

 

3.2.5.vi. Other requests for action ignored

 

We have also found many antisemitism complaints forwarded by other sources, including high-ranking Labour staff and politicians, direct to “Disputes” or Sam Matthews for action, which appear to have been ignored, despite the members involved being identified or easy to identify.

 

On 5 May 2017, for example, John Stolliday emailed “Disputes” with the membership number of Brian Twist and the subject “One to go please”. A PDF was attached containing a comment from Twist:

 

Parasites. We won’t forget the disgusting attacks on our leader by the Jewish media and certain parts of the Jewish community when we do reach power.

 

On 29 June 2017 Withers-Green forwarded this to Matthews, along with similar posts:

 

All of this is outside of his short membership time.  However, we don’t have the timestamp for one comment and I feel that calling the jewish community parasites is particularly bad.

 

Matthews did not reply, and we have no record of any action being taken.

 

On 17 May 2017, meanwhile, Jonathon Hoffman had also submitted a complaint about Twist, enclosing a screenshot in which Twist wrote about JLM leader Jeremy Newmark:

 

Scum… the sooner we disinfect the party of people like Newmark the better.

 

On 25 July 2017, this single piece of evidence was uploaded to Twist’s Members Centre profile. We have no record of any further action being taken, however.

 

In September 2018 Twist’s membership lapsed, and we have now attached the evidence to his profile to prevent him from rejoining.[692]

 

In August 2016, meanwhile, a member of “Labour International” submitted a complaint about fellow international member Chris Crookes, for antisemitism. In September 2016 he followed up with further evidence. Both emails were forwarded by “Legal Queries” to “Validation”, but no further action appears to have been taken.

 

On 4 November 2016 a different member of “Labour International” then emailed a complaint to Lorraine Hardy, secretary of Labour International, cc-ing NEC Disputes chair Ann Black and members Christine Shawcroft and Rhea Wolfson, concerning:

 

Christopher Crookes, who claims to be a member of Labour International CLP, and who we believe to be a holocaust denier and a Nazi sympathiser.

 

The complaint came from the “pro-Corbyn” admins and moderators of an unofficial

Facebook group for members of Labour International CLP, who had discovered that

Crookes had, “over a number of years”, published a range of Holocaust denial and “pro-fascist” materials across the internet, including on Facebook and in Amazon reviews. Extensive evidence was attached of Crookes’ explicit Holocaust denial.

 

On 10 November 2016 this was then forwarded to Buckingham and Stolliday, and Buckingham sent it on to Matthews:

 

Can you investigate this one please?

 

Matthews did not respond and no further action appears to have been taken.

 

On 30 November 2016, Lorraine Hardy complained to Black that some members suspended during the leadership election had still not had their suspensions lifted as announced:

 

Yet, Chris Crookes, who was reported to Compliance recently for Pro Nazi comments and being a holocaust denier is still shown as a member with no indication of suspension or expulsion.

 

Hardy raised this again to Black on 11 December:

 

A members report downloaded today still shows the same 15 LI members suspended and yet Chris Crookes in Sweden L1361255 (holocaust denier and apparent Nazi sympathiser) reported to John Stolliday and Kat Buckingham, with cc to you, is not yet even shown as suspended let alone expelled.

 

Ann Black forwarded this email to Iain McNicol and Julie Lawrence, Director of GS Operations. Lawrence forwarded this to Matthews asking him to act. Matthews then forwarded the email to Hogan, but only asked him to sort the ongoing suspensions and lifts:

 

Could you look at the cases below and decide whether any of them require further action?… If we’re not taking further, could you sort lift/warning letters for them?

 

On 4 January 2017, Hardy again emailed Buckingham and Stolliday:

 

It is a little worrying to see that Chris Crookes is not yet suspended.

 

Stolliday then raised doubts as to “whether this is the same Chris Crookes who is a member in Sweden” even though the evidence provided in the original complaint demonstrated that this was the same Chris Crookes and addressed the questions Stolliday raised. Hardy noted that they came across Crookes because he was a member of their Labour International Facebook group.

 

On 28 April 2017, Hardy then followed up, emphasising the overwhelming evidence they were the same person:

 

Surely they are one and the same person and the Party should take a serious re-look at the original complaint of 10 November 2016?

 

Stolliday forwarded this email to “Disputes”. After the election, “Legal Queries” then followed up asking for the original evidence to be sent again. However, once provided this was again simply forwarded to “Disputes”, from where no further action was taken.

 

A further report from Euan Philipps of “LAAS” was also received on 19 July 2017, contaning two posts of Crookes defending Ken Livingstone’s comments and dismissing antisemitism. It was forwarded from “Legal Queries” to “Disputes”, but no action was taken.

 

On 15 August 2017, however, Withers-Green forwarded Hardy’s email with evidence to Matthews:

 

Investigation methinks.

 

No case was logged, and we have no record of Matthews taking any action.

 

On 7 September 2017 “Labour International” members again raised Crookes with Ann Black, who forwarded their email to Claire Frances Fuller, GLU’s Head of Internal Governance.

 

On 8 October 2017, Ann Black then raised the case directly with Matthews:

 

Chris Crookes was reported by Labour International nearly a year ago.  Is he somewhere in the system, and if not, could he be followed up for investigation?

 

LI are not happy with me, and it would help to be able to take something back.

 

She forwarded emails containing all the evidence.

 

Matthews did not reply.

 

On 11 October, Black then chased Matthews “requesting urgent action”:

 

Attached is Labour International secretary Lorraine Hardy’s record of previous correspondence, where the party clearly agrees that whoever it is has engaged in holocaust denial, but questions whether it is the same Chris Crookes.  Further evidence follows showing that it _is_ the same person.

 

I am requesting urgent action, and before the Disputes Panel meeting on 31 October.  This case is being unfavourably contrasted with that of Moshe Machover by LI members.

 

If you need further copies of the original correspondence, screenshots etc Lorraine will be able to provide them.

 

Matthews now responded:

 

We’ll be sending a notice of investigation today and will endeavour to have a report ready for Disputes on the 31st.

 

No case was created, and no NOI was sent. We have no record of any action being taken at this point.

 

On 29 October, Black then emailed Matthews to confirm that a report on Crookes would be tabled at NEC Disputes on 31 October. The following day he responded:

 

Chris Crookes is under investigation but there hasn’t been time to conclude an investigation properly – it’s my understanding that we’re awaiting a response to questions sent to him. He won’t be in the tabled reports.

 

This was inaccurate. We have no evidence of Chris Crookes having been contacted; no record of any case being saved; and no evidence of Matthews forwarding any of these emails on to investigations officers for action.

 

On 12 December 2017, meanwhile, Black emailed Matthews again for an update: “I am being chased”. Matthews did not respond. She emailed him again on 4 January 2018:

 

Any chance of an update on Chris Crookes by Wednesday 10 January, for me to report to Labour International?  Even if it’s no progress because of other work, Christmas etc.

 

Again, Matthews did not respond, and no action was taken.

 

In February 2018, meanwhile, 289 members of “Labour International” signed a petition demanding action on the Holocaust denier in “Labour International”, with the petition containing a full timeline of their attempts to get GLU to take action on Chris Crookes. On 15 February 2018, Hardy sent this directly to Iain McNicol, with Ann Black and NEC member Christine Shawcroft cc’d, as well as Fraser Welsh from GLU’s Internal Governance team. Welsh agreed to take this up, but we have no record of any further action being taken.

 

It was not until 26 March 2018, when GLU came under more scrutiny from LOTO, that

Matthews then accessed his previous emails from Ann Black and initiated a case.[693]

 

In total, between August 2016 and February 2018, an 18 month period, the case of Chris Crookes was raised directly with Sam Matthews twelve times, with John Stolliday four times and with other GLU staff four times, as well as being forwarded from “Legal Queries” to the appropriate inbox for action (“Validation” and then “Disputes”) five times. It also went directly to general secretary Iain McNicol twice.

 

And yet, despite repeated assurances, including Matthews’ direct assurances to Black that “We’ll be sending a notice of investigation today and will endeavour to have a report ready for Disputes on the 31st”, and then his claim that “my understanding [is] that we’re awaiting a response to questions sent to him” – no action was taken.

 

Chris Crookes was finally suspended in March 2018, in the transition period between general secretaries, and expelled by the NCC in July 2019.

 

 

 

 

 

3.2.6. Actions

 

GLU staff did take some action on antisemitism in this period. Due to the lack of tracking, to assess the number of antisemitism cases acted on in this period we had to manually review all letters sent to Labour members by GLU.[694]

 

In total, between 1 November 2016 and 19 February 2018 – a period of almost 16 months – GLU staff initiated just:

 

  • 10 suspensions for antisemitism
  • 24 NOIs for antisemitism
  • 2 General Secretary membership rejections for antisemitism

 

The suspensions and NOIs for antisemitism pertained to just 32 individual members

(or 34 including the General Secretary membership rejections).740

 

(For 2017, the figures were 10 suspensions and 22 NOIs, sent to 30 individual members.)

 

Workload on other cases was also not high. In total, across all categories, including antisemitism, we have found that GLU staff initiated just:

 

  • 56 suspensions
  • 71 NOIs
  • 5 General Secretary membership rejections

 

By contrast, the Party has recorded 296 suspension and 283 NOI “first outcomes” in

2019, for antisemitism cases alone.[695]

 

This small number of actions was not due to a lack of complaints in the period November 2016 – February 2018. As detailed above, many extreme antisemitism cases reported to GLU were simply not acted upon.

 

Between 1 January 2017 and 31 December 2017, “Legal Queries” sent 1,540 emails to “Disputes”, almost all of which were simply forwarding on complaints that had been received. 338 of these return a result for the term “antisemitism”.[696] This cannot be taken as the number of complaints submitted – it will include non-members; it will include duplicates (“LAAS”, for example, would typically submit each complaint multiple times); while many complaints were also about multiple individuals, and not all antisemitism cases would include that term in written form. It also does not include complaints sent directly from other Labour staff to staff in GLU, or to the “Disputes” inbox. But this gives some indication of the proportion of cases being ignored, given that GLU in 2017 acted against just 32 members in relation to antisemitism (and, as documented below, a number of those actions were on cases reported the previous year).

 

More activity took place with regard to auto-exclusions of members accused of supporting other political parties, with 209 autoexclusion letters being sent. These involved a lot less work, as the member was excluded immediately. Some of these would be flagged by CLP secretaries; in other cases, GLU staff would look through nomination papers or examine who had attended meetings of rival far left groups like TUSC.

 

It is difficult to see any criteria under which these autoexclusions could be considered a higher priority than acting against members denying the Holocaust and supporting genocide, other than, potentially, a narrow factional one.

 

In examining the minority of antisemitism cases where GLU staff did act, moreover, the Party has found that for the vast majority of actions – 27 out of the 34, or 79% – action did not follow from GLU’s own internal processes and procedures, but was instead caused by individuals who were able to directly access and get in contact with – or chase – the relevant GLU staff – usually other high-ranking Labour staff.

 

There were three cases that received action where complainants knew Hogan and

Matthews personally, and this seems to have led to fairly prompt responses (Elleanne Green, April 2017; Ben Bayley, September 2017; Andy Thomas, October 2017). More often, action only followed higher ranking Labour staff like Stolliday or McNicol requesting it; Labour’s press team flagging a case for urgent attention, following press enquiries; or Regional officials very directly chasing Matthews or other GLU staff, sometimes over a period of many months.

 

When they were responsive, GLU staff could react and produce the required documents in as little as 38 minutes. Other times action came after months of direct chasing (and, in most cases, no action was taken at all). Half of these cases were therefore acted on in less than a month (mostly a matter of days), while the other half took an average of 147 days for a letter to be sent – five months.

 

There were just seven cases in this period where “normal” complaints led to action, without documentary evidence available to the Party showing that other Labour staff were chasing GLU or the complainants had personal relationships with the GLU staff involved.

 

This included four cases left over from 2016:

 

  • one case from the Oxford University Labour Club investigation a year earlier. (Finn Lees)
  • three cases from the “Validation” process, received in August-September 2016 but not acted on at the time. Westerman proposed action in November 2016, and NOIs were issued in February 2017. (Kevine Walcott, Ian Millard, Iqbal Halani)

 

The other three included one case that had originally been submitted and chased by a Labour staff member, a local organiser, but it appears to have been a second complaint by a young Jewish member that prompted action. The content was written, explicit and classical antisemitism. It is not clear how it came to Westerman’s attention, but he issued an NOI two days after the second complaint (Zaman Nazari, February 2017).

 

There appear to have been just two occasions, in this entire period of almost sixteen months, where normal antisemitism cases going through GLU’s designed flow of complaints led to action from Matthews.

 

One case, Maher Hamadouch, was sent to Matthews directly in March 2017 and was likely flagged and acted on promptly because it included explicit threats of violence, including the member tweeting “I will kill you” at another member, and he had been attending Young Labour events. Matthews agreed an NOI, however, rather than a suspension, despite these threats.

 

The other, received on 29 March 2017, alleged antisemitism in a pro-Labour Facebook group by Labour member Ashley Small. Louise-Withers Green liased with the complainant for further information, and on 30 March 2017 forwarded the evidence to Matthews for action. Within an hour, Matthews responded:

 

CONGRATULATIONS ASH SMALL – he’s made it into the 10 most asinine, intellectually redundant conversations I’ve wasted my life to read this morning. 

 

Obvious use of Zionist as a term of derision, repeated use of antisemitic tropes. 

 

One for ben please. 

 

Westerman then issued an NOI the following day.

 

All of these actions were before April 2017. From 1 April 2017 to 19 February 2018, a period of over ten months, there was not a single antisemitism case that went through GLU’s designed processes and received action (a suspension, NOI or membership rejection).

 

It is unclear why.

 

It has not been possible to determine a total number of antisemitism complaints received in this period, because it would require review of every single email sent to

“Legal Queries”, “Disputes” and individual GLU staff members in this period, which the Party does not have the staff resources for. However, extensive searches of these inboxes with terms like “antisemitism”, or the names or email addresses of known complainants such as people from LAAS, has revealed numerous complaints that should have been acted on in this period but were not.

 

In total, the Party has found that there were at least 170 cases of reported antisemitism by Labour members that warranted investigation in this period but were not acted on at the time, and the true figure is likely to be higher. This includes more than 70 cases where GLU staff had themselves identified or been made aware of the membership numbers of the Labour members in question, but no action was then taken, and more than 90 cases where the Labour members in question were very easy to identify from the reports submitted.[697] Many of these members were complained about on multiple occasions in this period, and in most cases the conduct highlighted was extreme.

 

GLU staff in this period therefore acted in fewer than a third of the antisemitism cases where GLU staff themselves were aware of the precise identity of the Labour members involved, almost always thanks to chasing by other high-ranking members of Labour staff.

 

In total, GLU staff acted on, at most, 16% of complaints about Labour members engaging in antisemitism in this period, counting only cases where both a Labour member and their conduct was clearly identifiable to GLU staff, or actually identified by GLU staff themselves. The true figure is likely to be lower. The two cases that were reported in this period where Matthews then acted in accordance with the designed processes and authorised an NOI, amount to fewer than 1% of antisemitism cases submitted in this period that should have been investigated and acted on.

 

Cases ignored in this period have been acted on since, being picked up in spring 2018; re-submitted in 2018 or 2019 and then picked up; or discovered in our historical audits and then acted on.

 

 

           

3.2.6.i. Table of antisemitism NOIs and suspensions, 1 November 2016 – 19 February 2018

 

Date Name Member

ship

Number

Actio n Origin GLU Timefra me Source
20-Jan-17Finn LeesL1267641NOI24/02/2016 OULC.

 

Decision from Mike Creighton:

Following on from the Royall report, can you both look at the attached and determine which, if any, should be investigated (none are to be suspended prior to investigation).”

331 days2017 Actions:

“170120 FLees Labour Party Notice of

Investigation.eml”;”

160606 FLees

Decision Royall

Report.eml”

1-Feb-17Kevine

Walcott

L1444106NOI29/09/2016 Stolliday flagged. Walcott herself emailed loads after.

 

In Westerman’s 28 Nov 16 postleadership wash-up of missed “Validation” cases.

 

15/12/2016 Ben Westerman emails Sam Matthews recommending suspension. No more evidence of how a decision was made.

 

01/02/2017 Ben Westerman sends an NOI – no suspension.

125 days2017 Actions:

“170201 KWalcott Labour Party Notice of

Investigation.eml”

2-Feb-17Ian

Millard

N/aNOI30/06/2016 flagged to “Validation”.

 

Tweets included “National Socialist Germany 1933-1945. Its flaws were few, its achievements many. Don’t believe

Jewish-Zionist lies”

 

In Westerman’s 28 Nov 16 postleadership wash-up of missed “Validation” cases.

 

Response to NOI says the party has mistaken identity, sent NOI to wrong Ian Millard. The Millard the Party sent the NOI to says in his response that he managed to identify the actual Ian Robert Millard in “5 minutes”.

217 days2017 Actions:

“170202 IMillard Re  Labour Party Notice of

Investigation.eml”

7-Feb-17Zaman

Nazari

L1216530NOIScreenshots were suspension worthy:

Jews deceitful infiltration of UK’s politics”, Jews bite babies penises.

 

09/01/2017 Complaint from a CLP Organiser (Labour staff) to Rebecca Child.

29 days2017 Actions:

“170207 ZNazari Labour Party Notice of

Investigation.eml”

 

10/01/2017 Child forwards to Disputes with link to membership profile. 05/02/2017 Luisa Attfield submits complaint to Legal Queries and Validation.

07/02/2017 Westerman sends NOI with evidence from Attfield’s complaint.

10-Feb-

17

Gareth

Price

L1441128NOI23/08/2016 reported to Validation.

 

10/02/2017 Fraser Welsh flags Price’s antisemitism to Sam Matthews. The only reason Welsh saw this evidence was because he was investigating another Gareth Price and the evidence had been put in the same folder. Sam Matthews raises this with Ben

Westerman who sends out a Notice of Investigation the same day.

 171 days2017 Actions:

“170210 GPrice

Important  Labour

Party Notice of

Investigation.eml”;

“170210 Gareth Price L1441128 – anti-Semitism.eml”

16-Feb-

17

Mike

Cushman

A044272NOI20/09/2016 to Validation (No evidence provided just link to Twitter account)

 

15/02/2017 Dan Simpson submits a complaint about Mike Cushman to Stolliday, Matthews and Flemming. The complaint contains a link to a CST article on Mike Cushman.

 

Matthews opens a complaint and forwards Simpson’s email to Westman. Westerman sends out a Notice of Investigation the following day.

149 days

OR

1 day

2017 Actions:

“170216 MCushman

Notice of

Investigation from the Labour

Party.eml”; “170215

CN  333 – FW  Mike

Cushman

A044272.eml”

17-Feb-

17

Iqbal

Halani

L1380497NOI26/08/2016 to Legal Queries.

 

In Westerman’s 28 Nov 16 postleadership wash-up of missed “Validation” cases.

 

15/12/2016 Ben Westerman emails Sam Matthews recommending suspension. No more evidence of how a decision was made.

 

01/02/2017 Ben Westerman sends an NOI – no suspension.

175 days2017 Actions:

“170217 IHalani CN

323 IMPORTANT  Notice of investigation 2248858.eml”;

“161215 Iqbal Halani You will not enjoy reading this email.eml”

8-Mar-17David

Wangusi

L0026017NOI08/02/2017 Member complaint is forwarded to Sam Matthews by Finn McGoldrick  (Labour staff, Regional Organiser).

07/03/2017 Finn McGoldrick chases up the complaint against Wangusi emailing Sam Matthews asking for an update. Matthews replies saying an NOI would be sent out that day.

08/03/2018 Dan Hogan sends a Notice of Investigation to David Wangusi.

28 days2017 Actions:

“170308 DWangusi Case No 341  Notice of

Investigation.eml”

 

29-Mar-

17

Maher Hamado

uch

L1504882NOI24/03/2017 to Validation.

 

It is most likely that this case was dealt with because it also included a threat as one of the pieces of evidence

Hamadouch tweeting to someone “I will kill you”. It seems likely that a staff member flagged this.

5 days2017 Actions:

“170329

MHamadouch

Notice of

Investigation from the Labour

Party.eml”;

“170324 FW  Maher

Hamadouch.eml”

31-Mar-

17

Ashley

Small

L1555257NOI29/03/2017 from CJ Appleby  to

Compliance – Legal Queries

30/03/2017 the complaint is forwarded to Sam Matthews from Disputes by Withers-Green, after she retrieved further evidence from Appleby. Sam Matthews says it is one for Ben Westerman, a notice of investigation is sent out the next day.

2 days2017 Actions:

“170331 ASmall

IMPORTANT  Information regarding your Labour Party

Membership

Status.eml”;

“170330 FW

Antisemitism – Facebook page –

Ash Small.eml”

6-Apr-17Elleanne

Green

A519028NOI09/03/2017 David Collier PSC Report submitted to Hogan by Patrick Lilley, who knows him personally, flagging local member Green specifically. 22/03/2017 Labour member Patrick

Lilley submits a complaint to Legal Queries about Elleanne Green linking to David Collier’s report.

06/04/2017 Ben Westerman emails Louise Withers Green asking her to draft an NOI and send it, a Notice of Investigation is sent to Elleanne Green the same day.

28 daysCase: Elleanne

Green

7-Apr-17Terry

Couchma

n

L1538997Susp.13/09/2016 to Validation. Tweets include:

Calling Mr Corbyn a “gutless

unprincipled creep” (for suspending Mr

Livingstone

*                      Calling for a “cull” of “Blairite sociopaths”,  who are also referred to as “ZioNazis”

*                      Describing NEC members as “creepy little slime moulds”

*                      Tweeting an article about Michael Foster with the comment “We have to rid ourselves of these ZioNazis” 07/04/2017 Lorna Snowball from

Labour Press emails Dominic Collins,

Phil Gaskin, Sam Matthews, ClaireFrances Fuller and John Stolliday saying that Jewish News have flagged Terry Couchman’s antisemitism. Stolliday replies saying to suspend. Sam

Matthews is CC’d and replies “Agree that we’ll want to suspend and investigate immediately”.

 

206 daysFinal Summary:

Terry Couchman

 

A letter of suspension is sent out the same day.
12-Apr-

17

Philip

Foxe

L1446906NOI19/01/2017 to Legal Queries 05/04/2017 Aimy Saunders (staff member) emails Rebecca Child asking “has anything been done with this at your level?”. Rebecca forwards the email to Louise Withers Green “I forwarded this to Disputes a while ago. Do you know what’s happening with it?”.  Regional staff told DH “is currently investigating”. 12 April 17 case further raised with Stolliday by Dan Simpson. On that day, a notice of investigation is sent to Philip Foxe.83 days2017 Actions:

“170412 PFoxe

IMPORTANT  Information regarding your Labour Party

membership.eml”

 

“170405 FW  For action – Complaint of anti-semitic behaviour within the Enfield

Southgate CLP and councillor nominations.eml”

25-Apr-

17

Alan

Myers

L1321513Susp.14/09/2016 Fiona Stanton forwards Sam Matthews and John Stolliday a complaint she received about Alan Myers relating to antisemitism.

 

24/04/2017 Matt Watson (Regional

Communications Officer) emails Fiona

Stanton and Neil Flemming saying the

Jewish Chronicle is asking about Alan Myers and whether he has been suspended as a candidate. The email is forwarded by Stanton to Sam Matthews asking him “View’s on what we do?”, Matthews replies “Yep Suspend. Copying in John [Stolliday] for info”.  Matthews then emails again with a draft suspension letter and says “Feel free to confirm to the press that we have suspended. This will go out in tomorrow’s post and out by email when Louise gets in this morning.”

Flemming replies, querying Matthews’ identification of the member, “I think thats the wrong Alan Myers. He’s the one in Crook, County Durham I think”.

Matthews responds “Bugger. Good spot. Will fix before it goes out in the morning”.

 

25/04/2017 A suspension letter is sent to Alan Myers.

222 daysCase: Alan Myers
3-May-17Dinah Mulholla ndL1268455NOI03/05/2017 LAAS complaint with link to article on antisemitism.uk, sent direct to  Fraser Welsh (Deputy Gen Sec Welsh Labour).

 

Mulholland was a Labour PPC in Wales. It was then published in CAA, and tweeted at Welsh Labour.

 

3 hours2017 Actions:

“170503 FW

Request from

Labour against

Antisemitism.eml”;

“180503 FW

Request from

Labour against

Antisemitism

URGENT .eml”;

 

This was sent to Matthews flagged as “URGENT” – “We’ve not had press enquiries yet but we may well.” Already before the letter went, Labour press had a spokesperson line explaining she had been removed and an investigation was underway.“170503 anti semitism – Dinah Mulholland – Ceredigion.eml”; “170503 RE  candidates.eml”;

“170503

DMulholland

IMPORTANT  Information regarding your Labour Party membership status.eml”

3-May-17Mike

Sivier

L1153041Susp.25/04/2017 complaint submitted with link to  antisemitism.uk article about Mike Sivier, a local candidate.

 

02/05/2017 Fraser Welsh (Deputy Gen Sec Welsh Labour) flags the antisemitism.uk article about Mike Sivier to Sam Matthews and Louise

Magee (Gen Sec Welsh Labour). Magee replies “I think we need to suspend him or at least be able to say he is being investigated”. Matthews replies “Had a quick look and i agree”. Matthews then emails Ben Westerman asking him to draft a suspension letter for Sivier. “Could you run up a suspension letter for this individual (see below) and send it round to the people on the chain below,

myself included, for signoff please?” Westerman does this and the suspension letter is sent out the following day.

03/05/2017 a suspension letter is sent to Mike Sivier.

8 days2017 Actions:

“170503 MSivier

IMPORTANT  Information regarding your Labour Party membership status.eml”;

“170503 FW

Antisemitism – Mike

Sivier

L1153041.eml”

31-May-

17

Phillip

Jones

L1199153Susp.30/06/2016 Richard Angell complaint to Iain McNicol and Emilie Oldknow, was discussed but nothing happened.

 

30/05/2017 After identifying Phillip

Jones as running the Twitter account

Labour Insider. John Stolliday emails

Claire-Frances Fuller and Sam

Matthews asking Fuller to suspend Phillip Jones the following day.

 

31/05/2017 A suspension letter is sent to Phillip Jones.

 

335 days /

1 day

2017 Actions:

“170531 PJones IMPORTANT  Information regarding your Labour Party membership status.eml”;

“170530 Re  Labour

Insider.eml”

7-Jun-17Matt

Viney

L1392446Susp.07/06/2017 Media enquiry about the Bristol banner incident. Suspension letter is sent out the same day.1.5 hours2017 Actions:

“170607 MViney

IMPORTANT  Information regarding your Labour Party

 

membership status.eml”
7-Jun-17Nima Masterso nL1486908Susp.07/06/2017 Media enquiry about the Bristol banner incident. Suspension letter is sent out the same day.3 hours2017 Actions:

“170607

NMasterson

IMPORTANT  Information regarding your Labour Party membership status.eml”

21-Jul-17Alan BullL1441104NOIRegional Director raised directly with Matthews, and chased. Complainant contacted Stolliday directly to chase.18 daysFinal Summary:

Alan Bull

24-Jul-17Laura

Stuart

L1475960NOILondon Regional Organiser raised directly with Westerman.2 working days2017 Actions:

“170720 Laura

Stuart.eml”

25-Jul-17Sue Carpente

r

L1715056GS Reject

.

Abusive email to McNicol, forwarded to Matthews with request for action.Same day

(letter

produced in 38 minutes).

2017 Actions:

“170725 Sue

Carpenter 1.eml”,

“170725 Sue

Carpenter 2.eml”

18-Sep-

17

Ben

Bayley

L0112308NOIComplaint from a Labour student activist from April 2017, now picked up. That activist was a key witness in the

Marc Wadsworth case, and was being interviewed for the case at the time. The case was dropped almost immediately, as there was little to nothing to it.

6 months2017 Actions
21-Sep-

17

Lynne

Gillard

L1318282NOITom Watson’s chief of staff raised directly with Stolliday and Matthews.2 days2017 Actions:

“170920 Lynne Gillard.msg”

29-Sep-

17

Alan

James

Griffiths

L0062401Susp.Acting Regional Director phone call direct to Stolliday.1 day2017 Actions:

“170928 Alan

Griffiths.eml”

03-Oct-17Slawomir

Wojcik

L1599443Susp.JLM member contacted McNicol,

Oldknow and Stolliday directly, cc-ing local MP and head of JLM.

4 working days2017 Actions:

“170929 Wojcik.eml”

04-Oct-17Katherine Coutanch

e

L1430139NOIDirect email to Matthews. Deputy Welsh GS, Fraser Welsh, then directly chased Matthews.62 days2017 Actions: “171004 coutanche.eml”
10-Oct-17Andy

Thomas

L1377005NOIComplainant who had direct contact with Matthews, emailed him cc-ing Stolliday.1-2 working days2017 Actions:

“171010 Andy

Thomas.eml”

10-Oct-17Michael

Lee

L1722101NOIRegional Director contacts Matthews, Hogan and Osei directly.2 days2017 Actions:

“171010 Michael

Lee.msg”

08-Nov-

17

Alan BullL1441104NOIComplainant emails Stolliday directly, who asks Matthews. Complainant chases. Regional Director contacts

Matthews directly.

91 daysFinal Summary:

Alan Bull

14-Nov-

17

William

Wells

L1411162NOIHead of JLM contacts McNicol, Stolliday and Regional Director directly. McNicol and Stolliday do not reply. Regional Director chases Matthews directly. LOTO Political Secretary Amy Jackson also emailed.Same day2017 Actions:

“171114 Billy

Wells.eml”, “171114

Billy Wells 2.eml”

29-Nov-

17

Laura

Stuart

L1475960Susp.Adam Langleben from JLM publicly tweeted about lack of action. Stolliday emailed him in response, for information, and proposed suspension.1 day2017 Actions:

“171128 Laura

Stuart.eml”

07-Dec-

17

Daniel

Harris

L1437686Susp.Repeated earlier complaints were not investigated. Regional Organiser emails Matthews directly and calls him.Same day

(letter

produced in 60 minutes).

2017 Actions:

“171112 Daniel

Harris.eml”,

“171112 Daniel

Harris 2.eml”

06-Feb-

18

Colin BellL1422689NOIComplainant emails Stolliday directly, who forwards to Matthews. Two months later, Labour staff email MM and Hogan directly.65 days2017 Actions:

“171204 Colin

Bell.eml”

13-Feb-

18

Shahab

Mossavat

L1375257NOIDan Simpson, PLP Director, emails Stolliday directly, and then chases.Final summary:

Shahab Mossavat

 

 

 

 

 

3.2.7. NEC stage

 

In this period, slow progress was also made on taking cases to the NEC, or preparing cases for the NCC.

 

Between 1 July 2016 and 19 February 2018, there were 7 meetings of the NEC Disputes Committee, but GLU brought just 37 cases relating to antisemitism for their consideration – an average of less than two per month. In 2017 28 such cases were assessed by the NEC Disputes Committee. In the three NEC Disputes meetings from July 2017 to January 2018, just 11 cases of antisemitism were brought.

 

In each case, only a brief summary of the case was required, but GLU produced just 37 of these summaries in 20 months.

 

An email from January 2017 outlined the roles of the team, setting out who was responsible for this work. Matthews’ responsibilities included “Line management” and “Disputes Signoff”, while Westerman and Hogan’s role was “conducting investigations” and writing Disputes reports for the NEC.[698]

 

The NEC Disputes Committee generally decided to refer to the NCC, and in cases where the individual was not already suspended, to impose administrative suspensions for the small number of antisemitism cases GLU brought to them. They agreed this dual course of action on two cases in March 2017, three in July 2017, and one in January 2018, while another member received a “Formal Warning” conditioned on attending antisemitism training, but when he refused he was automatically referred to the NCC and his suspension reinstated. As in 2016, GLU’s proposals were usually “waved through”. On 7 March 2018, for example, Disputes officer Megan McCann remarked: “disputes was very fun” – “everything passed easily”.[699]

 

The Chakrabarti Report had recommended that “the NCC should be encouraged to consider greater use of a wide and creative range of sanctions”, including:

 

  • a warning;
  • the requirement for apologies and/or some other form of sensitive reparation to another member or person or persons;
  • A public warning or reprimand;
  • suspension from the Party for up to two years;
  • and expulsion.[700]

 

The guidance agreed by the NEC outlined a similar range of possible sanctions that could be issued by the NCC, including punitive suspensions of varying lengths and types, and by the NEC, including Formal Warnings.

 

However, GLU did not implement the policy recommended by Chakrabarti and agreed by the NEC, and still tended to advise that cases that would not go to the NCC be ended with a staff warning. The “Validation” cases investigated in early 2017 were approached in this manner, for example, and the same approach was often present thereafter.

 

For example, on 13 April 2017 a Regional Director sent Matthews a case where someone wrote that Livingstone was “clumsy but correct”. He thought this would merit “probably a suspension pending investigation”. Matthews, however, suggested that:

 

I don’t think that post alone is enough for us to take action

We couldn’t take an NCC on the basis of that alone

 

He argued:

 

making those comments on someone’s facebook post is very different from saying them on every major news network

totally agree it’s rancid – but need to think about whether we’d actually get an expulsion out of it and not just waste our time

 

After Ryan said he would “just add him to my watch list”, Matthews added:

 

as soon as it’s a course of conduct that we can prove, let’s do the fucker[701]

 

However, at no point did either Ryan or Matthews appear to have looked at his social media profile to see if there a pattern of conduct was already apparent. As is clear, Matthews’ guidance remained that if cases did not meet GLU’s high bar for a “successful” NCC expulsion case, they were not worth pursuing.

 

Similarly, asked for advice on what information was needed in a “post interview recommendation” on 5 September 2017, Matthews advised:

 

Depends on the recommendation – if you’re sending it to NCC, we need comprehensive interview notes and a full write-up of why it requires the strongest action. 

 

If it’s a warning or a suspension lift etc, a couple of lines will do – just enough to enable us to write the letter & log what happened for future reference.[702]

 

The vast majority of remaining antisemitism suspensions from 2016 were not progressed at all in this period, with the members simply remaining suspended, while only a handful of individuals acted against in 2017 were then brought to the NEC.

 

In a stark contrast with 2017, in 2019 NEC antisemitism panels heard 274 cases – an average of 23 per month. Rather than just short summaries, GLU staff also provided reports containing all case information in each of these cases, and yet staff have managed to increase the rate at which cases are provided to the NEC more than tenfold.

 

In November 2017, NEC Disputes Chair Ann Black noted:

 

there is continuing and justified concern about delays in investigating cases and arranging hearings by the national constitutional committee. I am still rescuing individuals who were excluded or suspended over a year ago. More personpower is being assigned to this and I hope will finally clear the backlog.[703]

 

 

 

 

 

3.2.8. NCC stage

 

NCC cases also proceeded extremely slowly.

 

In 2016, none of the cases referred to the NCC were heard by the NCC, and in 2017 just four antisemitism cases were “concluded”: two by resignation; one, Ken Livingstone, was given an extended suspension in April 2017; and one, Mosabbir Ali, was expelled on 17 September 2017, the first expulsion for antisemitism in this period.

 

It was not until January 2018 that a further four antisemitism cases were concluded – all by expulsion – followed by three more on 19 February (expelled), 19 March (lapsed) and 20 March 2018 (expelled). That spring, Withers-Green had been assigned to work specifically on preparing cases for the NCC, and on 6 February 2018 Stolliday wrote to

Shaw that there was “going to be a wave of cases coming your way with bundles

Louise is now putting together”.[704]

 

The NCC’s processes were slow, and it was accustomed to operating at its own leisure. Staff reported in 2016 regarding delays that “[t]he NCC never meet during the summer”,[705] and as Stolliday wrote on 21 November 2016, apologising to a respondent for the delay in their case, “the NCC is a body of ordinary party members and we rely on them making themselves available for NCC hearings when they also have other commitments”.[706]

 

As NCC secretary and staff member Jane Shaw later reported, on 11 June 2018,

 

Prior to me being NCC sec [from late 2016], it was a job that an individual did alongside their “day job”.  Hardly any cases had a public profile and there was no necessity for cases to be concluded within a specific time.  If circumstances caused a key player to be unavailable (e.g. once as a NEC presenter I became ill) timetables and hearings were simply postponed and rescheduled.[707]

 

It is not clear that the urgency and importance of these cases was really felt in the GLU team, and this certainly did not filter through to the NCC. The NCC was slow to hear cases and arrange hearings; and hearings were regularly re-arranged or delayed due to respondents claiming they were unavailable or unwell or because their lawyers caused delays. NCC hearings would also be arranged around the availability – and unavailability – of large numbers of in-person witnesses.[708]

 

Most importantly however, GLU was very slow to prepare the documentation on cases for the NCC, without which the NCC would not begin arranging proceedings. This was specifically designated as being part of Matthews’ role.[709]

 

Throughout this period, staff in LOTO and others enquired about when these cases would be dealt with, particularly high profile antisemitism cases. GLU-GSO repeatedly assured LOTO and others that cases would be dealt with soon, but these promises were rarely fulfilled.

 

On 9 January 2017, for example, Matthews reported that, having spoken to Shaw, they

expected the Mosabbir Ali case to be heard after the Copeland by-election in February. It was not heard till September 2017.[710]

 

On 14 March 2017, GLU-GSO staff gave LOTO a briefing on NCC cases. They listed 46 cases, and reported “It is our aim to supply the Secretary of the NCC with charge bundles in all of the above cases within 1 month for hearings during June and July” 2017, with Jackie Walker among the cases they were keen to move to a hearing “as quickly as possible”.[711]

 

On 15 June 2017, meanwhile, Matthews and Stolliday drafted a reply from Iain McNicol to a letter from Jeremy Newmark from JLM. Asked about the “high-profile cases” of Walker, Wadsworth and Greenstein, Matthews wrote that charges “are all in the final stages of being formulated so they can be presented to the secretary of the NCC for hearings to be arranged”, and they intended “to arrange hearings for all 3 of these cases over the course of the summer.”[712]

 

However, Matthews later reported internally, on 10 October 2017, that there had been “a delay which straddled the GE in working out an agreed format for cases to be supplied” – a standardised charge sheet – “which we sorted just after the General Election”. After the election, Matthews noted, “we’ve been working on pulling together the 3 highest profile & more complex cases which have now gone to Jane

(Greenstein/Wadsworth) or are with lawyers to go shortly (Walker).” They were “due to send off the 5 remaining cases which can be dealt with on correspondence this week”, leaving a further “35 bundles to pull together”. Matthews was confident that “at the rate we’re referring now, my team can do them”, but noted that “this is a question of clearing a 2 year backlog.”[713]

 

An email from January 2017 outlining the roles of the team showed that Matthew’s included “Line management” and “Case management”, “Disputes Signoff”, and “NCC case construction & presentation”.[714]

 

In late 2017, Matthews then proposed a designated staff member take over the role of preparing NCC cases from him, and from early 2018 Withers-Green took on this work, enabling a few more cases to progress.

 

As can be seen, throughout this period, GLU staff presented an array of excuses as to why NCC cases were taking so long to be heard, and why so few were getting resolved. As well as issues with the NCC, failures of GLU staff to produce the required work seem to have been key, however, while there were also concerns about how staff were managing the work of the NCC itself.

 

On 24 January 2018 Dan Hogan expressed his concern about the work NCC secretary Jane Shaw was doing on NCC cases, including that of Marc Wadsworth, including allegedly forgetting to send a bundle and failing to ask panel members’ availability.

 

I am now hearing from witnesses who we need for the hearing that they are growing increasingly disillusioned by this process and the time it is taking. These are also senior stakeholders in Labour’s Jewish community, and in the context of recent negative and inaccurate media reports on how the Party treats cases of antisemitism, we cannot afford to be seen to dither on a case of as much symbolic importance as [Marc Wadsworth]’s. As you know, whenever there is a news story about antisemitism in the Labour Party, MW is held up as a leading example. This case is a priority.

 

Given the fumbles and apparent lack of urgency since this case was passed to the NCC, I am not confident that Jane understands the importance of this case, to GLU or to the wider organisation. On a less important note, it’s also immensely frustrating to see a case I have invested a great deal of time and effort into being put at risk through the nonchalance of another member of the unit. 

 

He emphasised that “Jane is senior to me… [and] I should not have to explain to her why the MW case is a priority”, with his experiences raising “serious concerns about Jane’s professionalism and understanding of the priorities of this unit”.[715]

 

 

3.2.9. Other categories of complaints

 

The Party’s investigation has focused on antisemitism cases, and an audit has not been conducted to assess how historical complaints of other types of cases were dealt with under Iain McNicol.

 

However, in the course of this investigation the Party has found numerous nonantisemitism complaints that were dealt with – or, rather, not dealt with – in a similar manner.

 

For example:

 

  • In May 2017 a member responded to a Labour email “Dear Jeremy, Please just fuck off and die… please, just fuck off and die, you terrorist-sympathising, semiliterate tramp.” This was forwarded on to “Disputes” for action, but we have no record of it being logged anywhere or of any action being taken. This person’s membership lapsed in 2019.

 

  • In August 2017 a member emailed Islamophobic and racist abuse about Labour MP Naz Shah: “Sack the Muslim MP Shah… get her out! She has no place in the country let alone the LP”. This was forwarded to Sam Matthews for action, but we have no record of any further action being taken.

 

  • In October 2017, a CLP Executive Committee reported a member for aggressive and bullying behaviour, including calling another member a ”grass” and saying “I can’t wait to see you soon I hope […..] I am going to fuck you up”. This was evidenced by screenshots, and submitted to Disputes. In December 2017, meanwhile, locals raised directly to John Stolliday Islamophobic posts by the individual: “What do you call a man in his 50s who has sex with a 9-year-old girl? 1.6 billion people call him the Prophet of Islam”. However, no record was made or case created, in Members Centre or Complaints Centre, and we have no record of any action being taken.

 

In May-June 2018 other complaints led to a case being generated, but the case was then lost in staff turnover. It has now been resurrected through our historical audits and the member suspended.

 

  • In November 2017 a member was reported for homophobic comments, including saying that Labour “look like the Gay party”. The complaint was forwarded to Dan Hogan, who created a case in Members Centre. No further action was then taken, however, until in March 2018 Megan McCann sent the member an NOI. She then prepared a report for the NEC, but the case, which was never logged in Complaints Centre, appears to have been lost after she left in mid-2018. The member has since resigned.[716]

 

The fact that antisemitism complaints were largely not being dealt with, and often were being mishandled or dropped, appears to have been a consequence of the fact that all complaints received by the party were largely not being dealt with, and often were being mishandled or dropped.

 

In addition, 34 out of 127 NOIs and suspensions issued in this period pertained to antisemitism – 26.8% – a slightly larger proportion than the 338 of 1,530 emails (22.1%) that contained the term “antisemitism”. Other staff in the Labour Party who had direct access to GLU, such as some regional staff or staff working for Labour MPs, were keen for action and directly chased GLU on antisemitism cases. Given GLU seemed to act only when chased by senior staff, this could actually have resulted in more action being taken on antisemitism complaints than other types of complaints. However, it is difficult to say this with any certainty as GLU did not properly log complaints.

 

 

 

3.2.10. Conclusions

 

We have not found evidence that shows antisemitism complaints were treated differently in this period. GLU did not display any urgency when it came to dealing with complaints, regardless of whether these were about antisemitism or other types of prejudice. This is in contrast to work that appeared to be factional such as the “validation” operations during the 2015 and 2016 leadership elections, or work on cases involving factional disputes with individuals on the left, for example the Siddiqi case study.

 

Although GLU did not act on most antisemitism complaints received in this period, including cases of extreme prejudice against Jewish people and Holocaust denial, some staff made comments about finding the content offensive. This suggests that their lack of action could be down to incompetence, mismanagement, prioritising other work and/or lack of motivation to take disciplinary action when there were not factional gains to be made. It is also notable that the major blockage in this period appears to have been one individual, the Head of Disputes Sam Matthews, who played a key role in the disciplinary process he had designed. It also appears there was a failure by his line managers, GLU Director John Stolliday and Executive Director Emilie Oldknow, to effectively monitor or exercise oversight over his work and over disciplinary processes more generally, which contributed to the lack of action on complaints during this period.

 

From spring 2018, onwards, specific efforts have been made to ensure that antisemitism complaints are correctly logged and dealt with. Effort has also been made to improve the handling of complaints and to ensure that all cases involving protected characteristics are treated equally, including through increasing staff resourcing, although the focus has primarily been on antisemitism. All types of cases have been impacted by drawn out processes and a backlog of cases. This is not unique to antisemitism cases. This report will later set out the improvements that have been introduced to speed up procedures.

 

The next section will demonstrate that after LOTO and stakeholders raised concern about lack of action on antisemitism cases, GLU came under increasing levels of pressure and scrutiny. This led to GLU taking more action from February 2018 onwards. After Jennie Formby was appointed General Secretary in March 2018, action on antisemitism complaints increased dramatically.

 

3.3. The relationship between LOTO and GLU pre-2018

 

3.3. The relationship between LOTO and GLU pre-2018 304
3.3.1. Summary305
3.3.2. LOTO and GLU pre-Jeremy Corbyn (2010-2015)308
3.3.2.i. Assessment313

3.3.3. LOTO and GLU under Jeremy Corbyn, September 2015 – February 2018 314

3.3.3.i. Consultation on cases involving elected representatives and high profile

members315
3.3.3.ii. Scrutiny of GLU’s work324
3.3.3.iii. LOTO enquiries about GLU and antisemitism329
3.3.4. Ken Livingstone338
3.3.4.i. Assessment359
3.3.5. Jackie Walker361
3.3.6. Moshe Machover371
3.3.7. Conclusions376

 

 

3.3.1. Summary

 

This section examines the relationship between LOTO, GLU and the General

Secretary’s Office (GSO) before February 2018, and communication about disciplinary cases and processes, including before Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader in 2015.

 

When Ed Miliband was Leader, staff in GSO and GLU, including Emilie Oldknow and Mike Creighton, routinely sought LOTO sign-off on decisions on disciplinary cases involving elected representatives or high profile members of the party, and changed course of action if LOTO’s views were different from their own.

 

LOTO Political Secretary Anna Yearley, for example, said on one case “I would favour not suspending till we know the outcome. Unless media pressure too much” and on another case “I think we need urgent clarification on what he said. I don’t think we should suspend him unless we have clear evidence… on what he said”.

 

On some occasions Emilie Oldknow and Mike Creighton expressed their disagreement with the action Ed Miliband’s staff had proposed. When LOTO proposed that a candidate be suspended, for example, Creighton said he was still “marginally… on the side of a warning” and “I guess i just don’t like being told who my candidate are [by] MoS [the Mail on Sunday]”, but the decision was taken to suspend despite this disagreement.

 

In another case where it had been decided that a police and crime commissioner would be asked to resign rather than be suspended, Oldknow said “have spoken to Bob [Roberts, LOTO Director of Communications] and I know this has been decided, but I don’t see why we cannot suspend him now”, suggesting that Oldknow understood that LOTO had ultimate decision-making power on disciplinary cases, above GSO and GLU.  

 

When Jeremy Corbyn became leader GLU largely stopped this process of consulting LOTO in cases not involving high-profile individuals such as nationally elected representatives.

 

In November 2017 Corbyn’s Political Secretary Amy Jackson emailed GLU and GSO about two council candidates, saying one had made comments that were “very antisemitic and pretty recent” and that “she must not be allowed to stand for selection” and on another council candidate accused of antisemitism Jackson emailed saying “this guy shouldn’t be a candidate”.

Even though Ed Miliband’s office had taken decisions on disciplinary cases about candidates and other elected representatives and office holders, GLU’s Director, John Stolliday reacted angrily to Jeremy Corbyn’s office urging action on two council candidates who had engaged in antisemitism. He emailed GSO and GLU colleagues saying “we are now getting demands from the leader’s office to take action on people” and that it was “not [LOTO]’s role, and never has been” to request disciplinary action against elected representatives of the party. Stolliday also explicitly noted “the implicit criticism and insinuation running through these [communications from LOTO] that we are not taking action on antisemitism”.

 

Creighton reacted in a similar manner when John McDonnell publicly criticised GLU’s handling of Vicki Kirby’s case, whose suspension was lifted without further investigation by GLU in 2014. Creighton said McDonnell “need[s] to grow up”, but then subsequently re-suspended Kirby.

 

After Corbyn said in April 2016 that antisemitism was abhorrent and that anyone who makes antisemitic remarks would be suspended while an inquiry takes place, Stolliday cited this as a reason to switch to issuing a suspension rather than a warning letter in a case he was considering. Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell’s public comments on the Party’s handling of antisemitism therefore put pressure on GLU to act.

 

In April 2016 LOTO and McDonnell proposed a plan of action to tackle antisemitism, and Karie Murphy emailed saying she had spoken to Tom Watson and “he is completely supportive of John/JC plan”, which included the proposal of an independent inquiry.

 

Jeremy Corbyn himself and members of his staff team requested to GLU that particular antisemitism cases be dealt with. In 2017 LOTO staff chased for action on high-profile antisemitism cases Ken Livingstone, Tony Greenstein, Jackie Walker and Marc Wadsworth, stressing that these cases were of great concern to Jewish stakeholders and that resolving them was essential to “rebuilding trust between the Labour Party and the Jewish community”. GLU often failed to quickly progress these cases, as well as on several cases of antisemitism that LOTO staff directly raised or discussed with GLU.

 

Whatsapp discussions among senior Labour HQ staff show that LOTO was unhappy with the NCC panel’s decision to suspend Ken Livingstone for another year rather than expel him. Emilie Oldknow wrote that “Karie has been telling Shadow Cabinet members that I’ve orchestrated the Ken situation so… Tom got his people on the panel to make a soft decision, all in order to embarrass JC and create a crisis”.

 

When Ken Livingstone repeated his offensive comments immediately after his NCC hearing in April 2017, Jeremy Corbyn publicly said that an investigation should be launched into those new comments, and he spoke to Jeremy Newmark, then Chair of JLM, who said:

 

When I spoke to Jeremy Corbyn on Wednesday afternoon he told me that new complaints based upon Mr Livingstone’s comments and actions subsequent to

7.45pm on Tuesday evening when the verdict became public would be taken forward by the NEC.

 

Newmark sought assurances from Iain McNicol that this was in hand. McNicol said “I can assure you that your complaint about Mr Livingstone is being investigated… staff are currently working on compiling the numerous strands of evidence, including a significant number of witness statements”. However, emails reveal this was not true. No investigation was launched until ten months after Ken Livingstone made the comments, despite LOTO repeatedly chasing for updates and asking why the investigation Corbyn called for hadn’t been launched.

 

Stolliday finally confirmed in early 2018 that no investigation had been launched, saying “I anticipate [Livingstone] will be back in membership in April”, even though he admitted that staff and the General Secretary had the power to launch an investigation and to suspend Ken Livingstone at any time of their choosing.

 

The reasons GLU cited for the delays on this case do not explain why it took ten months and chasing from LOTO to launch the investigation – which ultimately involved writing two sentences – or why JLM was misinformed about the investigation having been launched earlier. Seumas Milne asked in February 2018: “Emilie, in our discussions about the KL saga I never quite got why the second investigation was never started”.

 

After Jackie Walker’s first suspension, she was interviewed by the Acting Regional

Director, who then recommended her suspension be lifted, to which McNicol replied “agree lift”. Director of Audit and Risk Mike Creighton said “in my view we were a bit quick to suspend this one” and “having looked at the screengrabs most were legitimate political opinion and not anything we would suspend somebody for”.

 

Following Jackie Walker’s subsequent comments at Labour Conference 2016, the Head of Press emailed asking “Is she being suspended? LOTO briefing she’s going to be…sigh…”, suggesting that LOTO wanted Walker suspended and were therefore briefing the press that she would be. Following Walker’s suspension, emails show LOTO and later Jennie Formby chased for updates on Walker’s NCC hearing date. GLU staff confirmed that they had intentionally delayed Walker’s case to establish precedent through other high-profile cases, which led Jennie Formby to remark “I was told by Sam Matthews in relation to the deliberate decision to delay it by over a year – a delay for which Jeremy has of course had to bear the blame.” Jennie Formby and

GLU pushed for Walker’s hearing to take place, despite continued delays by the NCC.

 

LOTO enquired about Moshe Machover after they received complaints from members about an Israeli Jewish man being auto-excluded for alleged support for another political party. LOTO asked about the reasons for his auto-exclusion and questioned whether this was conducted in line with the Party’s rules. Following Machover’s appeal against his auto-exclusion, the allegations of antisemitism were not investigated further by GLU through the proper processes for allegations of antisemitism. LOTO does not appear to have requested that this be dropped.

 

 

 

 

 

3.3.2. LOTO and GLU pre-Jeremy Corbyn (2010-2015)

 

In order to understand how these processes worked before Jeremy Corbyn became leader of the Labour Party, the Party has conducted a brief examination of the handling of some disciplinary cases whilst Ed Miliband was leader (pre-May 2015).

 

The Party found that for cases involving elected representatives, key staff from LOTO – most notably LOTO Political Secretary Anna Yearley, and also LOTO Director of Communications Bob Roberts and LOTO Chief-of-Staff Tim Livesey – were regularly and fully consulted, and were also clearly understood as higher-ranking decisionmakers on disciplinary matters. This involved cases involving high-profile elected representatives, as well as many lower-ranking officials. LOTO staff also made decisions on how to progress cases once initiated, too.

 

Decision-making processes on disciplinary matters were highly informal. Other staff across Labour HQ outside of GLU (formerly referred to as “Compliance”) were regularly consulted and even gave decisive input.  

 

For example, in March 2013, an email chain was established with various Labour Party staff including Declan McHugh, Director of Strategic Planning and Constitutional Affairs, McNicol, Roberts and Yearley, concerning reports that Lord Ahmed had made

 

a number of antisemitic remarks. Yearley responded that she did not recommend suspension unless there was clear evidence:

 

I think we need urgent clarification on what he said. I don’t think we should suspend him unless we have clear evidence…  on what he said

 

An hour later, however, LOTO Director of Communications Bob Roberts followed up:

 

After talking with Ed and Anna, Ed is very clear we need to go further than we did last night

 

Therefore I am going to brief that we are “suspending pending an investigation”

 

I am going to act fast on this as the story is showing signs of taking off this morning so say in next 10 mins if there are serious objections.

 

Yearley responded: “Perfect. Jan royall telling naz now he’s suspended”.[717]

 

The decision to suspend Lord Ahmed’s membership was taken by LOTO staff on behalf of Ed Miliband.

 

Yearley and other LOTO staff were involved in signing-off responses to complaints about Labour Lord Janner.[718]

 

LOTO staff were similarly integrated into cases regarding prospective parliamentary candidates (PPCs).

 

On 19 September 2014, for example, a discussion took place about whether or not to suspend Marie Rimmer PPC, prior to her court hearing for an alleged assault. Katy Dillion, Broadcasting Manager, copied Yearley into an email:

 

CC’ing Anna. She’s talking to Emilie [Oldknow] about a plan.

 

On a separate email chain about the Rimmer case on 2 October 2014, Yearley then advised:

 

I would favour not suspending till we know the outcome. Unless media pressure too much.[719]

 

On 12 April 2014, meanwhile, a discussion took place regarding the proposed suspension of Labour Parliamentary Candidate Deborah Hopkins for a number of offensive tweets. This involved a range of senior Labour HQ and LOTO staff. Creighton suggested:

 

a formal written warning as to her future conduct, and requiring the removal of all the offensive tweets (or closure of the account altogether).

 

I think unless there are strong  views – and perhaps depending on the media hit – I think I would recommend [this] course of action.

 

Patrick Hennessy from the media team responded “Thanks Mike – let’s sleep on it.” The following day “looking at it all in the cold light of day it seems pretty serious to me”, and:

 

I also mentioned it to Bob [Roberts, Director of Communications], with EdM in the MidEast, and he took a dim view.

CC’ing Anna and Ayesha [Hazarika, an advisor to Harriet Harman]: would welcome views.

 

Yearley responded:

 

I think this stuff is pretty awful. 

 

The question is what can we do- is there enough here Mike/Declan for an administrative suspension? Iain obviously has the power to do this without the nec. 

 

Creighton noted “there is enough” but he was still “marginally… on the side of a warning”. It was, he noted, fine either way from compliance, and “Now just a tactical decision”:

 

I guess i just don’t like being told who my candidate are [by] MoS [the Mail on Sunday]. 

 

Yearley then sought Hennessey’s input:

 

paddy can we get away media wise with your option one [investigation and apology]? If not fear we need option two [suspend]

 

After it was decided to suspend Hopkins, and that Creighton would be the person to enact it, Yearley commented:

 

Bob [Roberts, Director of Communications] will be well jealous. He loves suspending people.[720]

 

As with GLU generally, the preference was for issues to be resolved informally. For example, on 5 August 2014 Tom Hamilton, Head of Briefing and Rebuttal, flagged that Baroness Glenys Kinnock, a member of the shadow frontbench, had retweeted a tweet on Conservative policy on the Gaza conflict that said:

 

It is a clear indication that government policy can be brought if you donate enough to the party

 

Hamilton commented:

 

This looks like Glenys Kinnock retweeting an antisemitic slur…[721]

 

Livesey sent this to Stewart Wood, asking:

 

Stew – do you think she might reconsider this tweet? Our donors will feel v queasy with this sort of baiting.  She may have a point but as a front bencher it will be twisted against us v v quickly and the Jewish community will not respond well.

 

Wood confirmed he had already asked her to “undo the retweet”.[722] Nothing further appears to have happened.

 

LOTO staff also appear to have been integrated into decision-making on far lowerprofile cases. On 25 September 2013, for example, McHugh emailed colleagues in both GSO and LOTO, including McNicol, Oldknow and Yearley, recommending a suspension of a Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) in Lancashire over a complaint alleging past “expenses irregularities”. Oldknow and Yearley signed off the proposal.[723]

 

Similarly, on 23 October 2012 McHugh shared a draft suspension letter for a councillor who had been arrested and bailed with Oldknow, Ian McNicol and the appropriate Regional Director. He noted:

 

Given this is Braford I am copying to Anna [Yearley]. 

 

 

Unless anyone has any objections I will email out this afternoon. 

 

Oldknow and Yearley both then emailed to approve the letter.[724]

 

An August 2014 email chain regarding encouraging a PCC to step down, or their being potentially suspended, meanwhile, suggests that Oldknow understood ultimate decision-making power to lie with LOTO staff, not her. Oldknow expressed her concern that the decision not to suspend was inconsistent with other decisions:

 

Have spoken to Bob [Roberts, LOTO Director of Communications] and I know this has been decided, but I don’t see why we cannot suspend him now. As you will know, we are just about to suspend Olly Martins in Bedfordshire which on the face of it looks a lesser charge.

 

We will get asked why aren’t we suspending him.

 

Regional staff continued to work on asking him to step down rather than issuing a  suspension a course of action of which Livesey from LOTO continued to approve.[725]

 

LOTO staff were also directing how cases progressed, beyond the initial decision on whether or not to suspend and investigate. On 16 May 2013, McHugh emailed Yearley, LOTO Trade Union Liaison Manager Simon Fletcher, Iain McNicol and other senior staff for “views, and hopefully backing” on proposals of how to move forward with disciplinary matters regarding the suspension of two suspended councillors in Warrington. In this case McHugh advised that while “they” (GLU staff) had the original objective of referring the case to the NCC to secure lengthy punitive suspensions, this view had been revised because of the “practicality and political value of that course of action”. McHugh noted that to refer to the NCC would be “time consuming and costly” but justifiable if “the political reward was sufficiently large”. He suggested that, instead, the General Secretary and NEC Disputes should be asked to commission a “short inquiry into the Labour Party in Warrington”.

 

Yearley responded signing off the proposal:

 

I think this sounds like a sensible way forward. Like you say, it’s not without its own problems but it seems the fairest way to proceed. 

 

Thanks Declan.[726]

 

An exchange in April 2013, meanwhile, suggests that Yearley was understood as having managerial or decision-making oversight over a wide array of compliance work. McHugh sent her, Creighton and Oldknow an update and questions on an array of different topics, including disciplinary proceedings and decisions on internal governance. Yearley responded updating McHugh and giving her input on all the issues he listed.[727]

 

3.3.2.i. Assessment

 

Evidence returned from the Party’s investigations shows that, prior to Jeremy Corbyn’s election as leader, decision-making on disciplinary matters was very informal, with decisive input on individual cases coming from Ed Miliband’s advisers in the Leader’s Office and a range of staff who worked outside of GLU in Labour HQ. LOTO staff appear to have been understood – both by themselves and by staff in GLU-GSO – as the ultimate decision-makers on all cases involving elected representatives of the party, both low and high-ranking.

 

However, with the election of Jeremy Corbyn, the relationship between LOTO and Labour HQ underwent a fundamental change.

 

3.3.3. LOTO and GLU under Jeremy Corbyn, September 2015 – February 2018

 

As demonstrated in the first chapter, many staff in GLU, GSO and Labour HQ in general viewed Jeremy Corbyn, his team and his supporters with hostility. There was little desire for cooperation. On the contrary, key staff were working against Corbyn, his team and, at times, against the Labour Party itself.

 

Despite this conflict, lines of communication between LOTO and Labour HQ were initiated and formalised. For instance, there were weekly “political meetings” between LOTO Chief of Staff Karie Murphy, LOTO Political Secretary Amy Jackson and occasionally other staff from the LOTO Political Team with McNicol and Oldknow, and sometimes Stolliday or other relevant GLU staff, on the political management and internal governance of the party – for example, party reforms, parliamentary selections, and so forth. The aim of these meetings was to ensure smooth political management of internal Labour Party issues. These meetings were often cancelled by GSO.

 

While GLU always remained in charge of process, and retained the sole power to discipline members, LOTO staff would sometimes be consulted on high-profile cases, mostly those involving elected representatives, as the Leader is held ultimately accountable for such issues, and may also have to defend these decisions in the media. It is therefore crucial that both the Leader and his staff understand the details of such high-profile cases, and the rationale behind decisions made.

 

In 2015-18, communication between LOTO and GLU regarding disciplinary issues covered the following:

 

  • Enquiries as to what GLU did and how it worked.
  • Enquires about statistics of disciplinary cases and progress of ongoing cases.
  • Enquiries about some specific cases, mainly due to members or stakeholders raising concerns with LOTO or because the case was in the media and LOTO were receiving press enquiries.
  • Enquiries about the progress of high-profile antisemitism cases that Jewish communal representatives were raising.
  • Consultation on some cases involving high-profile elected representatives or members of the party.

 

 

 

3.3.3.i. Consultation on cases involving elected representatives and high profile members

 

Despite the significant increase in hostility between LOTO and Labour HQ following the election of Jeremy Corbyn in September 2015, some consultation on disciplinary cases involving elected representatives still took place, as it had previously.

 

For example, on 26 April 2016 Oldknow consulted LOTO Deputy Chief of Staff Anneliese Midgley about the emerging controversy around historic social media comments by Naz Shah MP, and Oldknow reported that “Their view is no – we shouldn’t suspend”, on the basis that Shah had apologised twice, resigned and had the support of the Bradford synagogue.[728] The following morning she wrote to Stolliday, Creighton and regional staff:

 

We’re not going to suspend Naz. I think she is going to make a statement in the House later apologising. This is the action LOTO want to take.

 

They do not want her to suspend her.[729]

 

A few hours later, however, it was relayed by the Whips Office that “Jeremy Corbyn has instructed the General Secretary to administratively suspend Naz Shah MP from the Labour Party.”[730]

 

Similarly, in the case of former London mayor and (then current) NEC member Ken Livingstone, in mid-April 2016 a meeting was organised between GSO and LOTO (Chief of Staff Simon Fletcher and Political Assistant Janet Chapman) regarding several complaints about Livingstone, after which McNicol met with Livingstone.[731]

 

On 28 April 2016 (the day of Livingstone’s comments about Hitler allegedly “supporting Zionism”), GLU-GSO staff also consulted LOTO before issuing a suspension. Kevin Slocombe, LOTO head of media, was with Corbyn when he first heard of Livingstone’s remarks, and has recalled:

 

I showed Jeremy the transcript on the train… and as reported by Anushka Asthana,

Jeremy [was] clearly unhappy and concerned about Ken Livingstone[‘s] comments.[732] Guardian journalist Anushka Asthana wrote at the time:

 

A little later, Corbyn is jolted out of this reminiscence and back to the present day. After Livingstone’s fateful appearance on BBC Radio London, the Labour leader’s head of media sees something on his phone. Kevin Slocombe mutters the words that signal the start of one of Corbyn’s hardest days as Labour leader; a day that would result in him suspending one of his closest friends in politics as his party was plunged into a very public row over antisemitism.

 

“Ken’s said something on the radio,” says Slocombe, a slightly panicked look spilling across his face. “I need a transcript.” Soon the senior adviser slips into the seat beside his leader for a hushed conversation. As Corbyn steps off the train into Grimsby, the darkening in his mood is just perceptible.[733]

 

On this day, there were two conference calls, around 11am and 2pm, about the decision to suspend Ken Livingstone, who was an NEC member at the time. LOTO staff

Simon Fletcher (Chief of Staff, LOTO) and Anneliese Midgley (Deputy Chief of Staff,

LOTO) and HQ staff Iain McNicol and Emilie Oldknow were in attendance. Seumas Milne, Jeremy Corbyn and Kevin Slocombe (Head of Media, LOTO) were in attendance for part of the conversations over the phone, as Corbyn was campaigning at events in Grimsby that day.

 

At this time, LOTO staff were unaware of the protocol relating to suspensions of NEC members, and due to Corbyn being out campaigning, he was also unaware of exactly what Livingstone had said apart from Slocombe’s brief description on the train. The calls were used to establish the facts of Livingstone’s offensive comments, and establish what the normal protocol in such a situation was. All staff agreed that Livingstone ought to be suspended pending an investigation, and Mann MP ought to be dealt with by the Whip’s Office. GLU then suspended Livingstone.

 

An example of what could be considered a “courtesy consultation” of LOTO staff regarded a celebrity member of the Party. On 8 December 2016, Guido Fawkes reported that the frontman of “Primal Scream”, who had supported Corbyn, told the crowd at a gig:

 

I’m no comedian but should I tell a joke? What do you call a Conservative MP that’s been stabbed to death? A beautiful f**king thing.[734]

 

On 9 December 2016, Buckingham emailed Oldknow: “We would like to suspend, but appreciate you might want to talk to LOTO first?” Oldknow then emailed Katy Clark (Political Secretary, LOTO) and Nancy Platts (NEC and Trade Union Liaison, LOTO), saying that “In usual circumstances, with a party member, we would look at warning/suspension over something like this. Can you let me know LOTO view please?” It is not clear why the suggestion changed from suspension to “warning/suspension”.[735]

 

On 20 December, Platts apologised for her delay in replying, and asked if someone could “warn him privately and ask if he is prepared to apologise for his inappropriate joke and if he seems sensible and amenable to the warning, that might be enough”, though if further comments followed after the warning “formal discipline could be explored”.[736] On 4 January 2017, Oldknow asked Stolliday if this had been done, and he responded he would – “Thanks Nancy – we’ll pick this up and see where we get to.”[737]

 

On 30 January 2017 a case then seems to have been created in the “Validation” system GLU had been using.[738] Nothing further appears to have happened after that point, however.

 

This indicates it was not a high priority case, and LOTO staff were consulted as a courtesy given it involved a high-profile, Labour-supporting celebrity.

 

It was certainly not standard practice for GLU to consult Jeremy Corbyn’s office on high profile cases (as they had with Ed Miliband’s leader’s office). For example, on 12 December 2016 Stolliday emailed Clark “[j]ust to let you know” that they had identified

a member who was filmed saying “the white helmets in Aleppo were

UK/USA/’Rothschild’ propaganda after Jeremy’s speech on Saturday” – a public controversy at the time – and decided to suspend and investigate. Clark responded: “Thanks for letting us know. It’s appreciated”, and copied in Seumas Milne “from a media perspective”. In the exchange it was clear that GLU had taken the decision, and Stolliday was informing LOTO as a courtesy given media attention.[739]

 

Similarly, for the NCC hearing of Tony Greenstein in February 2018, Oldknow simply sent Murphy and Milne a reminder that it was happening. The discussion makes clear that LOTO was playing no role in the case:

 

[18/02/2018, 17:39:22] Emilie Oldknow: Reminding you both that it has been the Tony Greenstein disciplinary case this weekend

[18/02/2018, 17:39:55] Emilie Oldknow: And they are just on closing statements now

[18/02/2018, 17:40:12] Emilie Oldknow: I anticipate at decision on him tonight

[18/02/2018, 17:40:26] Emilie Oldknow: It is for antisemitism

[18/02/2018, 17:41:06] Karie Murphy: Ok I’ll thanks

I’ll text Seumas too

We are about to do a conference call at 6.30 

I’ll tell him then if not before

[18/02/2018, 17:41:54] Emilie Oldknow: Ok

[18/02/2018, 17:42:01] Emilie Oldknow: I’ll let you know as soon as I know

[18/02/2018, 17:42:19] Emilie Oldknow: But if the NCC don’t expel there is likely to be an explosion

[18/02/2018, 17:42:25] Emilie Oldknow: On twitter etc

[18/02/2018, 18:59:25] Emilie Oldknow: Greenstein has been expelled[740]

 

In the overwhelming majority of disciplinary cases the Party has reviewed from 2015 to March 2018, decisions were taken internally in GLU-GSO, and LOTO was not consulted, even though Ed Miliband’s office had been consulted routinely.

 

An enquiry from LOTO about the case of Peter Gates illustrates the relationship.[741]

 

In late 2015 and early 2016, there were clashes in Rushcliffe CLP between longstanding members who were CLP Officers and sat on the Regional Board and members who had recently joined the Party and been elected local branch officers, with rival complaints “around bullying, harassment, process etc… flying around”. After an allegedly confrontational meeting in March 2016, Deputy Regional Director Emma Foody contacted GLU: “I feel that we need to show some support to the CLP Officers and to the Chair of the Regional Board, but would welcome your advice.”[742] Stolliday then suspended the 10 branch officers who made up one side of the conflict – one of whom was Peter Gates.

 

Gates and other members subsequently raised this with GSO and members of the NEC:

 

It is concerning a number of people here that the 10 suspensions have been applied only on the evidence of one side, without allowing those suspended to have any say or allowing other accounts to be heard. This seems quite unjust…

 

I think we are feeling unfairly victimised in this process and are not being allowed a voice –  as a result a very distorted picture is being communicated.[743]

 

In April 2016, Oldknow responded to Gates that:

 

I do agree that trying to find a solution locally seems the best option if possible.[744]

 

All except two then had their suspensions lifted in early July 2016. Gates, however, remained suspended, and continued to raise his case wherever he could.

 

On 1 December 2016, Platts asked for an update on his case,[745] and then specifically said “Mr Gates has said that he is having difficulty getting information – has anyone told him why he has been suspended?” Stolliday spoke to Region and responded that the allegations “were made clear to him in his investigatory interview and the region have been in constant communication with him about the case”.[746] Platts responded:

 

Please can you send me a copy of recent communication with him that sets out the allegations and the process?

 

I am booking a meeting with Jeremy to go over some of the recent correspondence he has received and the summary report Kat [Buckingham] provided.[747]

 

Stolliday then responded privately to Creighton and Oldknow:

 

This is an outrageous ask. I’m not sending any correspondence or case info to Nancy or anyone else.[748]

 

He drafted a response insisting that cases must be confidential, and also that any involvement from the Leader “personally intervening on either side in an investigation” – which Platts had not suggested – would make “it impossible for the NEC or the NCC to come to an independent decision based on the evidence.” Creighton added that it was “A very restrained response” – “It would be nice if just once she took the side of the staff”.[749] The matter was then resolved through a phone conversation.

 

This response to a request for information so the Leader’s Office can respond to complaints and concerns being raised by the member in question, is in stark contrast to GLU’s response to Ed Miliband’s Director of Communications saying “Ed is very clear we need to go further than we did last nighton a disciplinary case in 2013.

 

In this period, GLU periodically provided detailed information on cases on request to Ann Black, Chair of the NEC Disputes Panel, without similar resistance.

 

Gates’ case was heard by NEC Disputes in January 2017, but continued to suffer delays thereafter. In March 2017, Black noted that “the Disputes Panel asked for this to be progressed as speedily as possible”. On 20 July 2017 Black contacted Matthews again directly: “please see my other mail and reply to Peter.  He hasn’t heard from us for over four months.” The same day, she forwarded this email to Stolliday:

 

… here is another message for Sam.

I cannot justify the situation any further.[750]

 

It was not until June 2018, after more than two years of suspension, that the NCC finally heard Gates’ case, and decided to exclude him from membership for two years, taking into account the two-year suspension he’d already served.

 

These examples indicates that GLU did not prioritise concerns raised by LOTO during this period.

 

After the 2017 general election cooperation between LOTO and Labour HQ improved slightly.

 

When the“MeToo” movement started in October 2017, a number of very high-profile elected officials, and staff members , were accused of sexual harassment or sexual assault, including Lord Neil Kinnock, Ivan Lewis MP, Kelvin Hopkins MP, Welsh Assembly Member Minister Carl Sargeant, LOTO staff member David Prescott, and others. This resulted in a flurry of communication between GLU-GSO and LOTO on the handling of these cases.

 

The seriousness of appropriately and delicately handling these cases was underlined on 7 November 2017 when Carl Sargeant committed suicide. Sargeant had been suspended from the Party but was not provided with information regarding the allegations against him. The handling of his suspension by GLU, Welsh Labour and the Welsh Assembly was the subject of intense media scrutiny. On 7 November 2017,

Sargeant called GLU asking to speak with Head of Disputes Sam Matthews. Matthews responded that he was unavailable to speak and would call back later. Later that day, Sargeant took his own life.

 

GLU-GSO and key LOTO staff, mainly Murphy and Jackson, participated in handling these extremely sensitive cases, including contact with the high-profile individuals accused.

 

On 2 November 2017, Stolliday emailed McNicol and Oldknow suggesting that they needed to improve this coordination:

 

I don’t think we can keep dealing with decision making in action against high profile people via informal methods. This is leading to confusing instructions, unclear knowledge of who knows what and illogical decision-taking trees.

 

I think there needs to be a small group of decision-makers and relevant additional staff who are involved in each decision. There also needs to be an audit trail of how we deal with those decisions in each case.

 

Can I propose that we agree with LOTO a small list of people who are copied into each and every case so we all know what’s going on and each able to action our own bit.

 

He noted that, for example,

 

Eg tonight nobody told [Regional Director] Cameron Scott about [Kelvin Hopkins MP] until I called him. And we need to widen the circle on the Wales case to this group as it will need to be a suspension tomorrow [for Carl Sargeant] after [Carwyn Jones] has taken action.[751]

 

Stolliday suggested this list would be Murphy, Seumas Milne, James Schneider/Sian

Jones (both press), lead GLU-GSO staff, and the PLP secretary Dan Simpson or Regional Directors as appropriate. This suggestion mirrors Sam Matthews’ later suggestion in 2018 to set up a designated group of LOTO staff to email about antisemitism cases.

 

This does not seem to have happened, however.

 

In January 2018, meanwhile, Scottish General Secretary Brian Roy sought advice from

GLU on allegations that a Labour Group leader had said he could not vote for Scottish

Labour leader Anas Sarwar for “racist reasons”. Sarwar claimed that the individual had “stated that ‘he couldnt’ support (Anas) because Scotland wasn’t ready for a brown Muslim Paki’”, and the conversation was witnessed by two other people – but the respondent “has categorically denied all of the allegations and in fact indicated to Anas that he would be voting for him.” Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard, Roy reported, supported “suspension pending investigation”, and Roy sought GLU’s approval. On being chased, Stolliday responded:

 

If we even consider suspending a council leader you are going to need to speak to LOTO and the LGA [Local Government Association Labour Group] I think – it’s a massive step and one we rarely do. 

 

And I thought you emailed saying he hadn’t done it??

 

Matthews agreed on the need “to engage the various stakeholders properly on this”. Roy then spoke to Amy Jackson who emailed “Sorry for the delay. Karie and I agree that he should be suspended. Please go ahead with the suspension”.[752]

 

In December 2017, Head of Complaints Sophie Goodyear copied Karie Murphy, Seumas Milne and Amy Jackson into a complaint of sexual harassment, regarding a former staff member (employed prior to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership). Murphy responded:

 

Thank you for copying me in. I think LOTO have less of a role to play in this as this person is not an elected representative and no longer employed by the Party (as far as I know). There is little doubt, if true, that this is an abuse of position.[753]

 

As this made clear, Murphy saw LOTO’s role as pertaining only to elected representatives and LOTO staff members.

 

In November 2017, as detailed later, Jackson had intervened to ensure action regarding two potential council candidates accused of antisemitism. Stolliday reacted angrily, and insisted internally to GLU-GSO that it was “not [LOTO]’s role, and never has been” to request disciplinary action against elected representatives of the party.[754]

 

However, as we have seen, under Ed Miliband LOTO staff had played that role and had been fully integrated into decision-making in that respect. The pre-existing level of consultation with, and authority given to, LOTO was simply not there after Jeremy Corbyn became Leader.

 

Instead, GLU independently took all kinds of decisions relating to council candidates and other elected representatives. For example, between July 2017 and January 2018, GLU issued three NOIs to Alan Bull regarding antisemitism. Despite him becoming a council candidate and having shared Holocaust denial, GLU never considered a suspension and never informed LOTO about his case. The first LOTO found out about it was from media reports on 21-22 March 2018.[755]

 

In December 2017, meanwhile, Matthews and Hogan suspended the council candidate and CLP Chair Syed Siddiqi without any consultation with LOTO, and maintained the suspension in spite of serious concerns raised by NEC Disputes Panel Chairs Ann Black and then Christine Shawcroft.

 

As under Ed Miliband’s leadership, some consultation and coordination between GLUGSO and LOTO continued to take place on disciplinary matters regarding elected representatives of the party. However, this was mainly on very high-profile cases, and Corbyn’s office was considerably less integrated into this process than Miliband’s office had been. Even when LOTO urged action against council candidates accused of antisemitism, GLU was extremely reluctant to fulfil requests for action from Jeremy Corbyn’s office.

 

3.3.3.ii. Scrutiny of GLU’s work

 

Throughout this period, there were periodic enquiries from LOTO staff as to what GLU was doing. Concern was expressed about GLU’s factional activities, as referred to earlier in this report, as well as general problems, such as delays in the progress of disciplinary cases.

 

There are many examples of LOTO staff expressing concern about what seemed to be a lack of action on cases from GLU.

 

On 7 March 2016, for example, following some controversial cases appearing in the media, on request of then LOTO Political Secretary Katy Clark, Oldknow provided “an explanation of what the Compliance Unit does for Jeremy and the PLP this evening should it be raised”, attaching a six page document focused mainly on electoral regulations, along with managing “around 30 Subject Access requests year which take a considerable amount of staff time”. About complaints, it simply said:

 

“The Compliance Unit is responsible for the conduct of major investigations, particularly in respect of membership abuse or selection abuse.

 

We are currently carrying out a major review of the Labour Party’s complaints, harassment, and safeguarding policies.”[756]

 

Later, in June 2016, Oldknow provided Clark with a list of all suspended members with the dates of their suspensions.[757]

 

In March 2017, LOTO Chief of Staff Karie Murphy asked Oldknow “for a note on how the NCC works and how they make decisions”. Oldknow then had prepared and sent back a briefing on what the NCC did, and a list of ongoing cases.[758]

 

In 2015, there had been serious concern within the Jeremy Corbyn leadership campaign about what appeared to be factionally motivated suspensions and exclusions of Corbyn-supporters (the “Trot hunt”, as Labour HQ staff referred to it).

 

In 2016, there was far more widespread concern in the Labour Party about the factional role played by the GLU team, including:

 

  • The attempt to exclude Jeremy Corbyn from the ballot;
  • The decision to disenfranchise new members;
  • And the “Validation process”, accurately believed to be targeted specifically at the Labour left.

 

In late August 2016, for example, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell expressed concerns about a “rigged purge” of Corbyn supporters, noting that the apparent reasons for the suspensions were becoming “bizarre”.[759]

 

LOTO staff and NEC members were not aware that the list of MPs which GLU used had focused on MPs from the Labour right, and ignored MPs from the Labour left. But the suspicion was widespread – and, as has been shown, well-founded – that this “purge” had been targeted at members on Labour’s left. LOTO staff and NEC members had also seen the rest of the list of “banned phrases”, when it was shared with the NEC in August 2016, and NEC Disputes Panel later reported their concerns about some of the words used.[760]

 

GLU staff rejected the criticisms made, including by NEC members such as Ann Black, and outwardly insisted that they had taken the right course of action aside from individual instances of human error.[761]

 

For example, on 11 October 2016 a CLP secretary emailed GLU with a motion on Labour’s disciplinary processes calling for “the use of expulsions and suspensions as a factional weapon to come to an end”, and for GLU “to have its responsibility for membership disputes/disciplinary matters transferred to a genuinely accountable body”. Iain McNicol’s secretary commented that “This is so irritating”, and Stolliday remarked “This makes me so angry”, claiming the decisions were taken by NEC panels not party staff.[762]

 

After the leadership election, NEC members continued to express concerns about the large numbers of members suspended or excluded on apparently flimsy grounds, who were contacting them regarding their cases.[763][764] Some NEC members raised individual cases on behalf of people who contacted them. For example, on 28 October 2016 Black emailed regarding a number of cases where there was “flimsy evidence for excluding some of the individuals who have written to me”,810 while on 24 November NEC member Claudia Webbe emailed concerning the suspension of Steve Cooke from Stockton North, following his “representations” to her. (Iain McNicol responded that the case was proceeding, but “As you know we cant get into the details or individual cases with third parties.”)[765] NEC members such as Black and Webbe were elected in the CLP division of the NEC and therefore were members’ representatives, making enquiries on their behalf.

 

At a meeting of the NEC Disputes Panel on 18 October 2016, many of these concerns were raised, and subsequently formalised in a letter from the NEC Disputes Panel (comprising the whole NEC) to GLU-GSO. Stolliday’s notes from the meeting show a range of concerns raised, concerns not limited to the party’s “left”. Christine Shawcroft expressed her concern that current members, as well as new supporters, were looked at (a concern echoed by Darren Williams), and:

 

I’m very concerned that [people’s] social media has been trawled through to find things they said years ago… I’ve had countless communications from people who are really worried and [upset by] all this. One person didn’t know she had been suspended. She’s still got no idea why.”

 

Regarding exclusions, Shawcroft argued:

 

We need a proper definition of what counts as supporting another Party, whether it’s nominating another candidate or clicking on Facebook because you like the energy policy of the Greens – that is not supporting another party. And people who supported green policies before the general election and now support Jeremy. Why can’t people change their minds 2 years later?

 

Alice Perry noted the need for “a series of levels to separate out the worst cases from the rest”, and “clear guidelines”:

 

There is a perception, rightly or wrongly, that there have been frivolous suspensions and this undermines the very many serious cases I saw on the Panel.

 

Darren Williams noted that:

 

There is a suspicion that some local MPs and members have been using this system to settle old scores and get people suspended… Also at the last leadership election people were not stopped from voting when they were suspended. When was that changed? Where did this power come from?

 

Martin Mayer suggested “clearer guidelines” were needed and most cases had not been serious, while Jeremy Corbyn argued:

 

On support for another political party, it is very unclear what that constitutes. There’s a whole range of policies you might support without actually supporting another party, and the timeframe of previous support is unclear”, while “We need to deal with the serious cases of abuse.

 

Jennie Formby pointed out:

 

One of the problems was there were computers looking for keywords. It means there were computer generated complaints that shouldn’t have come before us. I also made two complaints about people for awful abuse towards Jeremy and no action was taken against these people.[766]

 

The document the NEC Disputes Panel agreed and sent to GLU in January 2017 raised similar concerns.[767]

 

After the 2016 election, LOTO received many complaints from members about their suspensions and the lack of information they received, and in turn made some enquiries of GLU-GSO.

 

For example, in September 2016, a member emailed various NEC members raising her suspension for alleged “foul language”, insisting that as a “retired teacher”, “mother and a grandmother”, she had “never used ‘racist, abusive or foul language’ in my life and I find it insulting to be accused of it.” John McDonnell forwarded this to LOTO chief of staff Karie Murphy, who then sent it to Oldknow asking “Can you check this one please?”

 

The reason for the suspension – not provided to the member – was a single comment in which the member had asked “is the Labour Party becoming a neo-Nazi party?”, in relation to “undemocratic measures” taken against new members and “This is not the Labour Party that I grew up knowing.” Her suspension remained in force until after the leadership election, prohibiting her from voting in that election.[768]

 

On 21 September 2016, Murphy also sent Oldknow a list of 56 individuals who had complained to LOTO about not having received a ballot:

 

We need to respond to these individually as the[y] have written to LOTO. Can you ask compliance to look at each one and provide an explanation – ie the particular circumstances for each being excluded.[769]

 

On 21 October 2016, Nancy Platts from LOTO contacted Oldknow:

 

Jeremy has asked me to get him a report on all suspensions of individuals and CLPs – who is the best person for me to get this from?

 

I think he is looking for more detail on each of those that went to the Disputes

Committee plus any others in the pipeline.[770]

 

Platts asked for this again on 18 November.[771] Again on 24 November she asked “please can we have a date by when the report that Jeremy asked for will be available?” Oldknow then promised to send the “Disputes list” by the end of the week, and it was later provided.[772]

 

On 15 December 2017, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell emailed Iain McNicol to enquire about a suspended member who had not received information on what he was accused of and wanted to know if he could appeal – “I would be most grateful if you could update me and advise on the progress of the investigation.” On 21

December McNicol responded, promising to keep him updated and assuring him:

 

All cases are handled as speedily as possible but as you’ll know we do have a backlog currently being worked through by the NCC and the NEC disputes panel.[773]

 

As there was political controversy surrounding suspensions and exclusions during the 2016 leadership election, and this was the subject of media interest, it was to be expected that LOTO would make some enquiries about GLU’s work and would request information that they could relay to individual members writing to LOTO to complain.

 

The relationship between LOTO and GLU-GSO prior to Corbyn’s leadership shows that such sharing of information was previously considered normal conduct and that it was only under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership that GLU-GSO did not generally share information with LOTO and often ignored requests for information or for disciplinary action to be taken.

 

3.3.3.iii. LOTO enquiries about GLU and antisemitism

 

As both antisemitism in Labour, and the Party’s disciplinary processes more generally, became the subject of public interest, LOTO made contact with GLU on these issues. These contacts included:

 

  • Raising antisemitism cases with GLU.
  • Communications to and from the LOTO and Labour HQ media teams relating to cases that were gaining media attention.
  • Questions about the implementation of the reforms to the disciplinary process proposed in the Chakrabarti Report, and general progress on dealing with antisemitism.
  • Discussions concerning elected representatives accused of antisemitism.
  • Enquiries as to the status of high-profile antisemitism cases of concern to Jewish stakeholders: Ken Livingstone, Tony Greenstein, Jackie Walker and Marc Wadsworth.

 

Evidence shows that, throughout 2016-18, although LOTO was concerned about the factional activities of GLU, LOTO also expected action to be taken on allegations of antisemitism. During the second half of 2017 and early 2018 in particular, LOTO staff expressed increasing concern about the failure of GLU to take effective action on antisemitism.

 

These two positions were not, after all, contradictory: it was GLU’s role to act on complaints of antisemitism, not to engage in factional politics. The expectations LOTO placed upon GLU were in line with the Unit’s responsibilities to the organisation and the Party’s membership.

 

GLU-GSO, in response to both LOTO and other internal and external stakeholders, would insist that they always acted promptly and that work was progressing on all antisemitism cases. As Creighton said in April 2016, “we act immediately [if] we have evidence”.[774]

 

At 7pm on 7 April 2016, Jeremy Corbyn received an email from Gideon Falter, Chairman of Campaign Against Antisemitism, regarding “pro-Hitler antisemitic tweets by Choudhry Shahzad, a Labour Party activist”, including a link. At 9pm, Corbyn forwarded the email to Iain McNicol:

 

Dear Iain,

I received this this evening.

Could you pass it on to whoever deals with this.

I am acknowledging receipt to the sender.

All best,

Jeremy

Sent from my iPad

 

On 8 April 2016, he was suspended.[775] (In August 2016, regional staff interviewed

Choudhury, and in light of his responses recommended referral to the NCC, which the NEC agreed in October 2016. No further work was done on the case since, and it was not logged anywhere. Choudhury remains suspended.)

 

Public comments by Corbyn and McDonnell prompted some action by GLU. In March 2016, for example, McDonnell, along with others in the PLP, publicly criticised GLU’s handling of the case of Vicki Kirby, whose suspension was lifted without further investigation in 2014. Although Creighton commented that McDonnell “need[s] to grow up”, GLU-GSO subsequently decided to re-suspend Kirby.822

 

The following month, McDonnell said he favoured life-time bans over antisemitism – “Out, out, out. If people express these views, full stop they’re out” – rejecting the suggestion that antisemitism issues were being used as a “convenient stick” to beat the leadership:

 

If people have raised this, we’ve got to deal with it – full stop.[776]

 

In April 2016, meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn publicly said:

 

Anti-Semitism is absolutely abhorrent and wrong. Anyone that commits any act of anti-Semitism, that makes anti-Semitic remarks, is auto excluded from the party and an inquiry follows immediately. We have suspended, we will suspend, any member that behaves in that way.

 

Stolliday cited this statement as reason to switch to issuing a suspension rather than warning letter in a case he was considering.[777]

 

In April 2016 there was also discussion in LOTO of the need for “urgent action” on antisemitism. On 29 April 2016, the day after Ken Livingstone’s suspension, McDonnell wrote:

 

Urgent action needs to be taken this morning to follow up yesterday, I can’t emphasize the importance of this – and I want it to be implemented this morning as a matter of urgency.

 

McDonnell set out the proposals that had been under discussion with LOTO:

 

  • Statement of principles and purpose towards tackling antisemitism
  • Drafting of detailed guidance notes for consultation on antisemitism for all party members and representatives
  • A training programme for party members and party representative at all levels of the party including MPs, councillors, party office holders and members
  • Setting up an advisory group to advise on combating anti-Semitism – comprising representatives of representative bodies drawn from Jewish communities and Jewish members of the party
  • The establishment of a clear and efficient procedure for dealing with any allegations of anti-Semitism
  • Setting up an independent enquiry into anti-Semitism in labour to report in two months to leadership and NEC – (to potentially be led by “Shami” Chakrabarti)
  • In the interim – create a special officer in the compliance unit, who deal specifically with allegations of anti-Semitism

 

LOTO Chief of Staff Simon Fletcher then assigned relevant tasks to different team members, while LOTO Office Manager Karie Murphy added she had spoken to Tom Watson, and “He is completely supportive of John/JC plan”. The discussions led to Shami Chakrabarti being appointed to lead an inquiry into antisemitism and other forms of racism in Labour.[778]

 

On 28 March 2017, meanwhile, after a third email in two weeks from Ellie Hobhouse, Political Advisor to Shami Chakrabarti, who had been “asked to put together a list of measures taken by the Party to respond to accusations of antisemitism”, Stolliday responded to her query. He reported:

 

In terms of action on anti-Semitism, as you know a huge amount of work has gone into tackling anti-Semitism across all levels of the Party. That does not mean there isn’t more to do, but we have responded effectively and seriously to this issue.

 

Individual disciplinary cases continue apace and many have already been sent by the NEC to hearings of the NCC, or are awaiting an NEC decision in coming weeks and months.

 

 

Since last year the Party’s focus has been to both improve our disciplinary procedures for those accused of anti-Semitic behaviour, and to proactively offer training and development to our members in issues surrounding anti-Semitism.

 

Finally the Governance Unit has undergone a fundamental restructuring over the past year, and is now enlarged and better set-up to handle cases. This includes the appointment for the first time of a full-time Complaints and Safeguarding team, who are currently delivering a professional complaints and safeguarding policy and procedures. This team will be a single point of contact for complaints received by the Labour Party, and will act as an arbiter to ensure complaints are dealt with seriously and in a timely manner.[779]

 

In early October 2017, there were numerous press reports about Tapash Abu Shaim attending Labour Party conference, and his reported history of “antisemitic comments”. This included enquiries from LOTO Head of Strategic Communications James Schneider and Labour HQ Press Officer Georgina Robertson. Over a ten day period, the case was raised repeatedly, and:

 

  • It was reported in the Jewish Chronicle and elsewhere.
  • John Stolliday and Sam Matthews said it would be investigated.
  • The response was given, in consultation with GLU, that Shaim was under investigation.
  • Claire-Frances Fuller, Head of Internal Governance, criticised Robertson for allegedly not sharing the media enquiries with GLU immediately, as “we all have a responsibility to protect the reputation of the Labour Party and so if this type of information about individual members is brought to the attention of [any] member of staff, the Governance and Legal Unit should be made aware as soon as possible so an investigation can be started asap”, even though Stolliday had in fact been the first to be informed about the emerging case.[780]

 

However, no case was logged by GLU, and no action was taken.828 This was despite the fact – which Matthews failed to mention – that GLU had actually already investigated Shaim and documented his antisemitism in March 2017, and also processed a case about him for antisemitism in late 2016.

 

This case was re-raised by a complainant in 2019, and, combined with the information current GLU staff uncovered in historical audits and systematic social media searches, this led to Shaim’s suspension from the Party.

 

On 17 October 2017 Laura Murray, LOTO Stakeholder Manager responsible for relations with the Jewish community, emailed Stolliday, with other senior LOTO and GSO management in cc, with requests for information including:

 

could we have an update on the current status of the cases of Ken Livingstone, Jacqui [sic] Walker, Tony Greenstein and Marc Wadsworth and a clear timetable of when they will all be heard by the NCC and when a final decision will be made on them. The Jewish Labour Movement expressed frustration that these cases have taken such a long time to be heard, as they feel that it is difficult to begin the process of rebuilding trust between the Labour Party and the Jewish community whilst we have still not dealt with these cases.

 

She noted that Corbyn and Jeremy Newmark from the JLM were meeting next week “and both are really keen that we deal with all these outstanding issues as soon as possible”.

 

Stolliday responded:

 

I share the frustration of JLM and others in the time it takes for hearings to be progressed, but we are getting through them. Of the ‘big name’ cases you highlight, Greenstein and Wadsworth have NCC hearings in December in January. Walker will be shortly sent to her with proposed dates early in the new year. Any further Livingstone investigation has not yet gone to the NEC Disputes panel for a decision. I anticipate this will come to the January Disputes.

 

I totally agree with your desire to progress positive relations, and I hope you understand that we are doing what we can within our rules to deal with these complaints when they are sent in to us.[781]

 

In November 2017, meanwhile, LOTO Political Secretary Amy Jackson requested action over several public reports on antisemitism from local council candidates.

 

In early November 2017 complaints were received about Nasreen Khan, reported to be a council candidate in Bradford, for allegations including antisemitism. The screenshots included her writing in 2012 that schools were “brainwashing us and our children into thinking the bad guy was Hitler. What have the Jews done good in this world??”, and that “Jews have repeated the rewards of playing victims, enough is enough!”.[782]

 

GLU staff considered a suspension but then Claire-Frances Fuller, with Stolliday and Matthews in cc, noted that her comments predated her membership and she had apologised, assumed the Local Campaigns Forum were aware of that on selecting her, and so decided to take no action.[783]

 

On 11 November 2017 Jackson then emailed GLU-GSO staff regarding Khan:

 

Just spoken to Iain about this and following up with an email. The story about nasreen Khan has just been brought to my attention. Clearly the comments she made were very antisemitic and pretty recent. …

 

As mentioned, Iain [McNicol] and I have spoken and agreed she must not be allowed to stand for selection. I’m not sure of the process of stopping her from standing but it needs to be done immediately and Nasreen needs to be informed so we can answer the large amount of press queries we are getting.

 

Please confirm when this has been done.[784]  

 

On 13 November 2017 Oldknow then picked up the case. On checking, it became clear that the local LCF had not actually been aware of the posts when shortlisting Khan, so it arranged to re-interview her.[785] On 13 November Ann Black also enquired with GLUGSO about the case,[786] and on 15 November the regional board re-interviewed Khan – in fact only ever on a short-list – and removed her from the short-list.[787]

 

On 14 November 2017, Liz Martin, LOTO Local Government Liaison, raised with Amy Jackson the case of Billy Wells, a council candidate in Norfolk, noting that “On the advice of Shami [Chakrabarti], Billy Wells needs to be investigated”. She reported Shami’s reaction to Well’s reported remarks that “This is antisemitism and not antizionism.”

 

This followed public reports about Wells from the Campaign Against Antisemitism. Jackson forwarded this to Oldknow, Stolliday and Matthews:

 

Could you please advise on what to do as if these comments are true, this guy shouldn’t be a candidate.

 

Stolliday then emailed Oldknow, Matthews and McNicol privately:

 

“We are in a position where, having been criticised regularly and continuously for the decisions we take on these sorts of cases, we are now getting demands from the leader’s office to take action on people. 

 

Notwithstanding that I absolutely agree that we should be taking action in this instance and some of the others, I think we are getting into dangerous territory where LOTO are demanding disciplinary action against individuals, including the overturning of democratic decisions made by local members in terms of selections. That is not their role, and never has been. 

 

There is also the implicit criticism and insinuation running through these that we are not taking action on antisemtisim [sic], which coming from LOTO is painfully ironic. But I’m not going these for my own sanity…”

 

It is unclear why Stolliday thinks it “painfully ironic” that LOTO staff wanted action on antisemitism. This comment is not evidenced by LOTO having argued against action on antisemitism, or expressed a desire for less action. Stolliday’s objections also contradict GLU’s previous standard practice of seeking the approval of the Leader’s Office under Ed Miliband for decisions on cases involving candidates.

 

Stolliday’s acknowledgement that “the implicit criticism and insinuation running through these” enquiries from LOTO was “that we are not taking action on antisemitism”[788] demonstrates that GLU knew  that LOTO wanted action to be taken on antisemitism.

 

On 30 October 2017, meanwhile, Jackson emailed Oldknow and McNicol, with Murphy and Laura Murray in cc:

 

Is it possible to add an additional item to the Org agenda for tomorrow titled disciplinary procedures? 

 

In light of all the issues that have arisen over the past couple of weeks, we need to have clear guidance on the disciplinary processes as well as the complaints procedures/codes of conduct. 

 

We could add it to the Org agenda underneath the complaints and harassments procedures. If we put these two issues next to each other, we can be clear on not only how to make a complaint, but also the process for someone who is having a complaint made against them, and the appropriate role for all concerned in managing these complaints. A few members of the NEC have raised with me that the disciplinary procedures are still unclear so we need to use this opportunity to get some clarity. 

 

 

We also need guidance on the Chakrabarti  motion – again, something to be put on the agenda to agree the process of how this will happen which I suggest should be the same as above, although with Shami’s office having input, and again with a view to putting a recommended paper to the NEC Away Day. We have had a huge amount of lobbying on this with many CLPs and organisations expressing concern that it is too open ended so it’s important we deal with this quickly to give members the reassurance they’re seeking.

 

Oldknow asked Stolliday and Matthews to “pull together a one-sided page on what is the process for our disciplinary matters”. She noted:

 

I think this is because some people feel we are not implementing this properly.

 

I have not been provided with any evidence to substantiate this.

 

But, it is always helpful to reconfirm what previously was agreed by Org.

 

Matthews and Stolliday then produced the briefing.[789]

 

On 12 December 2017, meanwhile, a LOTO internal briefing on Labour and the Jewish community noted that:

 

The cases of Ken Livingstone, Jacqui Walker, Tony Greenstein and Marc Wadsworth have still not been dealt with by the party which is a cause of great concern to Jewish stakeholders.

 

It also expressed concern that the Chakrabarti Report “has not been fully implemented”, noting that JLM was concerned about this, and that LOTO wanted

“outstanding anti-Semitism cases to be dealt with by the NEC swiftly and decisively”.[790] On 24 January 2018, meanwhile, Dan Hogan emailed Jennifer Gerber of “Labour Friends of Israel”, regarding delays to an NCC case she was due to be a witness in:

 

Please be assured that the Party and the Governance and Legal Unit have always taken, and will always take, cases of alleged antisemitism extremely seriously. I can’t comment on specific cases, but it is fair to say that there were a number of serious inaccuracies in the media reports of last week’s meeting of the NEC Disputes Panel. I can assure you that no past decisions have been reversed, and it is certainly not the inclination of the Governance and Legal Unit, or of the Disputes Panel, to be lenient in cases of alleged antisemitism as has been suggested in some parts of the media.[791]

 

On 24 March, Amy Jackson emailed Stolliday and Matthews regarding a case of antisemitism:

 

Have had some media interest around this person who has tweeted this obviously disgusting and antisemitic abuse. Are they a labour member and if so are they suspended? If you could let me know any information that would be greatly appreciated.

 

Stolliday responded informing Jackson that the person in question, Mossabir Ali, had been “was expelled by the NCC last year.”[792]

 

On 27 March 2018, Laura Murray enquired about statistics on antisemitism cases now being publicised, including active investigations, suspensions, complaints, cases awaiting NCC hearing and the number of NCC cases dealt with last year:

 

They weren’t anything I had heard before, but maybe he had got them from a Disputes Panel paper that I didn’t get or something. I wondered if you, or somebody in your team, could verify these for us?

 

Matthews then provided some of these figures in response.[793]

 

3.3.4. Ken Livingstone

 

As discussed earlier (Section 3.3.3.i), Ken Livingstone had been suspended in spring 2016. Almost a year later, in April 2017, his NCC hearing took place.

 

On 28 March 2017, Oldknow discussed arranging the panel for his hearing:

 

28/03/2017, 10:43 – Emilie Oldknow: FYI. Lee Vaizey (expelled Galloway) has dropped out of Ken panel because her daughter is in hospital. We are trying to replace now. Likely Maggie Cosin[794]

 

LOTO staff were unhappy about delays to the NCC hearing, moved to the same day as the official launch of Labour’s local election campaign:

 

[31/03/2017, 18:42:11] Emilie Oldknow: Ken adjourned until Tuesday [31/03/2017, 18:42:19] Emilie Oldknow: Elections launch date….

[31/03/2017, 18:42:56] Emilie Oldknow: We do not decide this date btw and I haven’t been in the hearing today

[31/03/2017, 19:02:40] Karie Murphy: Bloody hell !!

[31/03/2017, 21:31:04] Seumas: Is there any way to move it to Wednesday? [31/03/2017, 21:37:39] Emilie Oldknow: It’s not decided by us. It’s decided by the panel

[31/03/2017, 21:45:25] Emilie Oldknow: John confirms that it doesn’t start until 3 and verdict not expected until 7/8pm[795]

 

Late on Wednesday, 4 April 2018, Ken Livingstone received a sanction of a two-year suspension (with the NCC ruling that he had already served one year of this sentence during his administrative suspension) from the NCC rather than an expulsion. He immediately repeated his defence of the comments which had led to his suspension.

 

Decisions of the NCC are final. However, both public statements at the time and WhatsApp messages make clear that LOTO staff had expected Livingstone to be expelled, and were both shocked and unhappy about this decision. Labour HQ staff were also unhappy about the verdict, but appear to have been slower than LOTO to move to a place of supporting a new case against Livingstone.

 

Stolliday’s initial update on the evening of 4 April 2018 did not criticise the verdict, arguing “the fact that all three charges were found proven demonstrates the rigour and validity of the case we brought”.[796] He also approved a Labour HQ press line saying that “The Labour Party will make no further comment on this matter.”[797] In the “LP Forward Planning Group” he called the sanction a “slap in the face”, however.[798] On the morning of 5 April 2018, Stolliday sent a draft report to McNicol and Oldknow on the hearing. He wrote that it was “impossible for me to understand” how they had reached the correct verdict, but then only issued a two-year suspension – but also that:

 

I obviously accept the decision of the NCC, but I wonder whether in future there may need to be some level of sentencing guidelines for NCC members so that when a breach of this crucial rule designed to protect our reputation is found proven, it must follow that an expulsion – even for a short period – is the appropriate sanction. However such a move would put pressure on NCC members when considering verdicts, and would be politically difficult to achieve in the current environment.[799]

 

That morning, senior Labour HQ staff drafted lines for Labour spokespeople to take on the verdict. The lines said there had been a “clear case” for Livingstone’s expulsion, which GLU had pursued, but noted that “it’s a matter for the NCC”. On the question of further charges against Livingstone, they said “That’s a matter for others but if there’s further wrongdoing it should be dealt with properly.” They also said that this was an issue of individuals on the NCC rather than Labour rules, and the NCC members “need to account for their decisions.” On Stolliday’s advice, this final line was taken out before being shared with LOTO:

 

The line which says the NCC must account for its own actions – while technically correct – sounds like we’re putting pressure on them to do that. I’m uncomfortable putting them (especially the chair) in that position – even if we all disagree with their sanction.

 

Both Stolliday and Head of Policy Jackson agreed “that’s where it’s going”, but Stolliday did not want to put the NCC “in an awkward position”.[800]

 

Late on 4 April 2018, Shadow Attorney Shami Chakrabarti had issued an initial statement saying that the party had demonstrated an “ability to look at itself fairly and carefully in the mirror in more difficult times, however painful this might be”:

 

I hope people might now revisit my report and remind themselves of better ways to argue about difficult issues without compromising our values of solidarity, tolerance and respect.849

 

The following day, however, Chakrabarti expanded on these remarks by noting that many felt “the punishment of suspension” was “inadequate”. Livingstone’s repeated remarks, Chakrabarti said, “could be potential grounds for further investigation by the party”:

 

Ken Livingstone was fairly and rightly found guilty of bringing the Labour Party into disrepute. The punishment of suspension was thought inadequate by some members of both the Labour Party and the Jewish community that Livingstone has so offended.

 

However, his remarks since yesterday’s decision have overtaken those arguments. I am horrified by Ken Livingstone’s lack of contrition and repeated offence which could be potential grounds for further investigation by the party.

 

In the meantime I can only implore Mr Livingstone to maintain a silence and to please stop further damaging community relations, the party to which he has given so much of his life and himself.850

 

A year later, in 2018, Chakrabarti emphasised that she found it “very difficult to see that any rational decision-maker in the light of what has happened in the last two years could find a place for Mr Livingstone in our party at this moment”.851

 

Oldknow internally described “Shami’s line” (referring to Chakrabarti’s second quote) as “unbelievable”, and Head of Press Neil Fleming noted that “She’s not come through us”. The reasons for this criticism are not clear, but it may have been because Chakrabarti called for further investigation, rather than seeing the NCC’s decision as the final outcome, or because Labour HQ staff were still consulting LOTO and anticipating a line from Corbyn. Oldknow asked about it on what she called “the whatsapp group of death” – the “SKEI” group – but Milne replied saying that was “her own thing”:

 

[05/04/2017, 13:51:44] Emilie Oldknow: This Shami quote on Ken?? Is that the line Seumas?

[05/04/2017, 14:30:04] Seumas: No her own thing852

                                             

852

2017: “170405 RE  Shami line .eml”. WhatsApp: “SKEI”

 

By the time Seumas Milne replied, Jeremy Corbyn had already publicly responded by saying that Livingstone’s “subsequent comments” should now be subject to further disciplinary action, which was therefore LOTO’s “line”. Corbyn said:

 

Ken Livingstone’s comments have been grossly insensitive, and he has caused deep offence and hurt to the Jewish community.

 

Labour’s independently elected National Constitutional Committee has found Ken guilty of bringing the party into disrepute and suspended him for two years.

 

It is deeply disappointing that, despite his long record of standing up to racism, Ken has failed to acknowledge or apologise for the hurt he has caused. Many people are understandably upset that he has continued to make offensive remarks which could open him to further disciplinary action.

 

Since initiating the disciplinary process, I have not interfered with it and respect the independence of the party’s disciplinary bodies. But Ken’s subsequent comments and actions will now be considered by the National Executive Committee after representations from party members.[801]

 

Discussion in the “SMT Group” made clear LOTO’s negative view of the NCC’s “soft decision”, with key staff in LOTO, such as LOTO Chief of Staff Karie Murphy, suspecting it had been orchestrated “to embarrass JC and create a crisis”:

 

06/04/2017, 21:11 – Emilie Oldknow: Got a crazy tale for you…

Apparently Karie has been telling Shadow Cabinet members that I have orchestrated the Ken situation so that KL made provocative comments and then Tom got his people on the panel to make a soft decision, all in order to embarrass JC and create a crisis.

06/04/2017, 21:11 – Emilie Oldknow: TW has heard this too

06/04/2017, 21:22 – Patrick Heneghan: That’s from Simon f I guess 06/04/2017, 21:22 – Patrick Heneghan: Based on what I heard[802]

 

Oldknow also reported that on the morning of 5 April 2018, Steve Howell had been “pushing” the idea that the “right wing Labour machine” had “co-ordinated the hearings to coincide with the local elections to damage Corbyn”.[803]

 

However, discussion in Labour HQ’s WhatsApp group “SMT Group” on 6 April 2017 indicated some reluctance towards launching a second investigation into Livingstone, despite Corbyn’s comments:

 

06/04/2017, 09:29 – Emilie Oldknow: Iain – John McD wants a statement from you now regarding the process for anything else with Ken

06/04/2017, 09:29 – Patrick Heneghan: We said no

06/04/2017, 09:29 – Emilie Oldknow: Standard reactive lines

06/04/2017, 09:29 – Patrick Heneghan: But he’s desperate to put your name into this

06/04/2017, 09:29 – Emilie Oldknow: Be we are heading for an new investigation 06/04/2017, 09:30 – Emilie Oldknow: Yes. We was desperate for your name to be attached to it

06/04/2017, 09:30 – Emilie Oldknow: “The guardian of our constitution”

06/04/2017, 09:32 – Julie Lawrence: Sorry I missed the call. Did Katy say anything about it? Is she coming in this morning – I’ve not heard.

06/04/2017, 09:36 – Tracey Allen: No news from me

06/04/2017, 09:47 – Iain McNicol: Am just tried you. Let me know when you are free for a call.

06/04/2017, 09:47 – Iain McNicol: Em

06/04/2017, 09:49 – Iain McNicol: Surely JC needs to be the driver of Get Ken

06/04/2017, 09:51 – Patrick Heneghan: They want to pivot from

06/04/2017, 09:51 – Patrick Heneghan: JC has been clear in his view

06/04/2017, 09:51 – Patrick Heneghan: To

06/04/2017, 09:51 – Patrick Heneghan: It’s now a matter for the party

06/04/2017, 09:51 – Patrick Heneghan: But replacing party with gen sec

 

It is not clear why GSO and senior management in Labour did not want to take responsibility for this course of action, following clear statements from LOTO, including Jeremy Corbyn, that they expected this to happen. It was the responsibility of GLU to launch and conduct disciplinary investigations, not Jeremy Corbyn.

 

Later on 6 April 2017, McNicol wrote to members of the Labour NEC, saying that he had instructed staff to open a new investigation:

 

The Labour Party has received many complaints following the end of the recent hearing of the NCC and I have instructed my staff to follow the procedures and begin an investigation into whether the Party’s rules may have been broken again. If they have then I am determined they are investigated fully and properly.

 

As the General Secretary of this Party my responsibility is to make sure our organisational response matches the challenges we face. 

 

I will come to the next meeting of the NEC to inform you of the progress we are making on these issues. I would welcome any input you have as NEC members ahead of that meeting.

 

McNicol also “asked NEC members to offer their input before their next meeting, when he will give an update on the investigation.”[804] This statement was drafted by Stolliday.[805]

 

The same day, Stolliday and others helped to draft a speech by McNicol which would call on Livingstone to resign. However, the speech was not delivered.[806]

 

On 7 April 2017, Emilie Oldknow reported that they had discussed a “second Ken case” with lawyers, were on “strong ground” and would launch a “new investigation… after May elections”:

 

07/04/2017, 16:35 – Emilie Oldknow: Just been on call with lawyers re: second Ken case

07/04/2017, 16:35 – Emilie Oldknow: Actually – still on it….

07/04/2017, 16:35 – Emilie Oldknow: We are on strong ground with it

07/04/2017, 16:36 – Emilie Oldknow: So that’s where we will be headed

07/04/2017, 16:36 – Emilie Oldknow: To a new investigation. Likely to be after May elections is my judgement

07/04/2017, 16:43 – Iain McNicol: Agree. Anything before May will be seen as a campaign by us to lose seats in the Elections.[807]

 

However, Oldknow anticipated “court proceedings by Ken” in response, and Tracey Allen therefore suggest that McNicol “should [speak] to [Corbyn] about asking Ken to resign”, as it was “going to cost the Party a fortune”:

 

07/04/2017, 16:48 – Emilie Oldknow: We won’t send out the NoI until after elections

07/04/2017, 16:49 – Emilie Oldknow: Also this is likely to lead to court proceedings by Ken so…. it may go on some time yet

07/04/2017, 18:43 – Tracey Allen: Iain maybe you should spk to JC about asking Ken to resign. This is going to cost the Party a fortune. Even he must realise he has a duty to do this???[808]

 

John Stolliday reported that the Labour Party had spent “in the region of £100,000” on legal fees for the Ken Livingstone case, not including its own staff costs.[809]

 

On 7 April 2017, Iain McNicol emailed Jeremy Newmark (Director, JLM) to assure him that the further investigation would take place:

 

Jeremy Corbyn’s statement made clear that it is deeply disappointing that Ken Livingstone has failed to acknowledge or apologise for the hurt he has caused. Jeremy further set out that Ken’s subsequent comments and actions will now be considered by the National Executive Committee. I have asked my Governance and Legal team to start the work of a new investigation into comments made after the verdict on Tuesday.862

 

Newmark responded with his thanks and noted:

 

When I spoke to Jeremy Corbyn on Wednesday afternoon he told me that new complaints based upon Mr Livingstone’s comments and actions subsequent to

7.45pm on Tuesday evening when the verdict became public would be taken forward by the NEC.  I was very clear that this needed to be a personal commitment that we could rely upon.  I took Jeremy’s commitment as a personal assurance from him that the NEC will act upon all of this – not just consider it.  I was also clear that we do not have the luxury of another year to wait for all of this to move forward.  We understand that there are provisions for interim action given the lull in NEC meeting time due to the local election campaign.  I know that you understand the position and will do all that you can to ensure this moves forward in a swift and appropriate manner.[810]

 

However, this did not happen.

 

On 28 June 2017, meanwhile, Stolliday responded to a query from Baroness Jan Royall. On Livingstone, he claimed that:

 

The election has delayed us a little but we are looking at his comments post the NEC meeting and building evidence of impact & witness statements so that we can ask the NEC to decide whether to refer him to the NCC again. This would have happened at the NEC meeting on Tuesday next week, but the election means we won;t be in a position to do that quite so quickly – will have to be the next meeting of Disputes after July. Once we have completed evidence gathering when we do formally investigate him we will place him under a formal notice of investigation, and I anticipate that will trigger a legal challenge against the NCC’s previous ruling, so I’d prefer to keep details of this under our hat at the moment please.

 

On other high profile cases referred to the NCC, Stolliday said:

 

I hope these are going to be able to come through quickly now that the election is out of the way – certainly in the next few months.

 

Moreover, Stolliday felt that:

 

I think despite the cases we are starting to get there in terms of awareness, training and rules. It is now crucial to get some of these cases through the NCC and get sentences which visibly demonstrate we are getting a grip on this.864

 

Contrary to Stolliday’s assurances and despite Corbyn’s public statements of a reinvestigation into Livingstone, GLU did not commence a new investigation into Ken Livingstone, and it was LOTO staff who repeatedly chased them to do so.

 

Following Livingstone’s repeated offensive comments on Hitler and Zionism, a very large number of complaints were submitted to the Party. In April 2017, Oldknow, McNicol and Sam Matthews discussed the process for initiating a new investigation. However, no further investigation was opened into Livingstone’s comments, despite stakeholders and LOTO staff repeatedly requesting action.

 

On 14 June 2017, Jeremy Newmark emailed McNicol on a number of matters of concern to the JLM, including:

 

Please could I have your assurance that our complaint related to Ken Livingstone’s behaviour following the NCC hearing and verdict is being investigated and that a speedy recommendation will be made to the NEC when it next meets?  I am happy to accept your assurance on a confidential basis given the legal scenario, however you will appreciate that I need to reassure our members and the wider Jewish community that the Party is not ignoring our concerns.  I have pointed out that the local and then the General Election caused some delay but people have responded that other disciplinary incidents were indeed dealt with during the campaign.865

 

Stolliday asked Matthews to draft a response on behalf of McNicol, adding:

 

                                             

  • 2017: “170628 Re Jan Royall Antisemitism .eml”
  • Ken Livingstone; Outstanding Cases & JLM Anti-semitism training

I spoke to Jeremy (Newmark) yesterday and tried to downplay his expectations a little bit for immediate action and said to him I didn’t want him going around saying there is an investigation.[811]

 

It is not clear why Stolliday was downplaying expectations for action. Matthews drafted a response to go from McNicol to Newmark including:

 

1) I can assure you that your complaint about Mr Livingstone is being investigated. However, it will not be possible for an investigation, conducted to the extraordinarily high standards necessary, to be concluded before the disputes panel next meets on the 4th July. Staff are currently working on compiling the numerous strands of evidence, including a significant number of witness statements.[812]

 

On 30 June 2017 McNicol sent this in an email to Newmark.[813]

 

However, contrary to Mattthews and McNicol’s assurances to Newmark, it is not clear that any investigation was ongoing, nor that any witnesses statements were being compiled. Given that Livingstone’s comments were made on TV, it is also unclear what witness statements would be needed to bring this case to the NEC or open an investigation.

 

On 17 October 2017, Laura Murray (LOTO Stakeholder Manager) requested an update on Livingstone’s case from Stolliday, saying:

 

Finally, could we have an update on the current status of the cases of Ken Livingstone, Jacqui Walker, Tony Greenstein and Marc Wadsworth and a clear timetable of when they will all be heard by the NCC and when a final decision will be made on them. The Jewish Labour Movement expressed frustration that these cases have taken such a long time to be heard, as they feel that it is difficult to begin the process of rebuilding trust between the Labour Party and the Jewish community whilst we have still not dealt with these cases.869

 

Stolliday responded on 24 October 2017, saying that:

 

Any further Livingstone investigation has not yet gone to the NEC Disputes panel for a decision. I anticipate this will come to the January Disputes.[814]

 

However, this would require additional investigation to be done, such as putting the allegations to Livingstone and receiving his response, which had not happened and did not happen.

 

On 17 January 2018, Georgina Robertson (Press Officer) enquired about the status of Livingstone’s case with Stolliday, following an enquiry from a Daily Mail journalist. Stolliday responded:

 

Ken Livingstone was suspended from membership by the NCC following a hearing last year. The NCC decided that he should be suspended until April 2018, at which point his membership will recommence.

 

Robertson responded “Will there be another hearing before April to consider this case again?” and Stolliday replied:

 

There is currently no other hearing planned. That doesn’t mean one might not happen – the NEC could refer him to the NEC again – but I anticipate he will be back in membership in April.[815]

 

Despite the large volume of new complaints received about Livingstone nine months earlier, Stolliday expected Mr Livingstone to be back in full membership from April 2018, and had not undertaken any steps to re-investigate his comments.

 

On 17 January 2018, Murray emailed Stolliday to convey the concerns expressed to her by the JLM that Mr Livingstone would be reinstated in April:

 

JLM raised with me their concern about Ken Livingstone’s 2-year suspension ending on 24th April – two weeks before the local elections.

 

From memory, a second suspension was given to Ken after he continued to repeat his comments on TV following his last NCC hearing. Does this mean that, after his first suspension ends, he will continue to be suspended under the second suspension?

 

Thanks in advance for any light you can shed on this![816]

 

Stolliday responded that:

 

A second suspension was not applied, so he will come back into membership in

April.

 

The Party received a small number of complaints about his comments after the NCC hearing. We haven’t formally opened a new investigation yet, and that is a conversation we will have over here

 

I think that would probably be a notice of investigation and then the NEC Disputes panel would decide whether to refer to the NCC (and indeed also whether at that point to suspend him).

 

Happy to chat. I recognise it’s not ideal in terms of campaigning etc that he is unsuspended shortly before the elections. That was the decision of the NCC and not one we had any influence over.[817]

 

This email made clear that, despite Corbyn’s statements in April 2017 that a new investigation would be opened into Livingstone’s additional comments, GLU had not opened any investigation and that any decisions would be based on “a conversation we will have over here” ie. not with LOTO. Stolliday expressed his view that there should be a notice of investigation, not a suspension, and that only the NEC should decide whether or not to suspend him, even though staff had the power to impose an administrative suspension pending that process.

 

LOTO staff had believed that a new investigation had already begun – in keeping with the press statement released by Corbyn – while Stolliday and the GLU team had decided not to open a new investigation. Nine months on, GLU had not taken any action.

 

This demonstrates that the email Sam Matthews drafted form Iain McNicol to Jeremy Newmark saying that the investigation was already underway and that they were gathering witness statements was untrue.

 

Murray expressed her concern about it being “potentially disastrous” for Livingstone “to be reinstated as a member just two weeks before the local elections”:

 

Thanks very much for the update – that’s really helpful. I’ve flagged the issue with Karie & Amy so they are aware. 

 

I think the JLM are right – it would be potentially disastrous for him to be reinstated as a member just two weeks before the local elections. You mentioned before that his case may come before Disputes in March – is that what happens towards the end of a members suspension, their case is reconsidered by Disputes? Could he potentially have his suspension lengthened there?

 

Please do let me or Amy know what you all decide in terms of how to proceed – good luck with it and thanks for all your help!

 

Stolliday, however, again admitted that this was a decision for GLU staff and Iain McNicol, who had the power to open an investigation and suspend him but were choosing not to at that time:

 

It does;t come automatically again to Disputes. Once the suspension ends he’s automatically back in.

 

It would come again to Disputes if we opened a new investigation into him and took a new recommendation to Disputes on the basis of what he said post the hearing. They could decide to refer him to the NCC again (or not), and also to suspend him membership if he was;t already suspended administratively.

 

At any time during an investigation the General Secretary can decide to apply a further administrative suspension if evidence came to light that the GS considered merited his membership being suspended while we continue that investigation.[818]

 

On 26 January 2018, asked by Jon Trickett MP’s team for a briefing on actions on antisemitism ahead of a TV appearance, Stolliday responded that, on the “Number of anti-semitic allegations and the process/how long the cases are taking”:

 

We don’t have numbers available – many allegations sent to us refer to people who are anonymous on the internet or not actually party members. There are a number of cases currently working their way through our procedures. Many of these have been sent by the NEC for a hearing at the NCC – although some of these have gone to court to delay those hearings being held. We are working on getting those hearings held as soon as possible. We can’t comment on individual cases.[819]

 

On Livingstone, meanwhile, Stolliday said he couldn’t “really comment on individual cases”, but:

 

It would be a matter for the NEC whether they consider any further action against him based on any alleged breaches of the Party’s, rules which occurred after that NCC hearing.[820]

 

Stolliday’s deferral to the NEC to consider further action against Livingstone ws unusual, as the standard practice was for staff to take the initial administrative decision regarding investigation (with or without administrative suspension) in advance of NEC Disputes Panel considering the case. This also contradicted Stolliday’s admission to Laura Murray that staff and the General Secretary had the power to investigate and suspend Livingstone.

 

As discussed in the following section, in late 2017 and early 2018 GLU-GSO came under increasing pressure from LOTO, and other stakeholders such as the PLP, over its failures to act on antisemitism. In response, Oldknow began to take more of a role in managing Disputes.

 

It was around this point that Oldknow appears to have finally picked up the Livingstone case on behalf of GLU-GSO. On Monday 22 January 2018 Oldknow emailed Milne, Murphy and Jackson an update on the progress of antisemitism cases “where the Disputes team are with them”. On Livingstone, Oldknow wrote:

 

It is our intention to bring a report to the March meeting of the Disputes Panel. Amy – can you confirm action as we discussed on Thursday ahead of the suspension being lifted in April?[821]

 

Minutes of a 30 January 2018 meeting between John McDonnell, Ian Lavery, McNicol and Lawrence recorded regarding Livingstone:

 

noted LOTO/GLU across Ken L recent interview. Noted JMc has agreed with Amy to talk to KL if that is helpful[822]

 

Minutes of a 31 January 2018 Labour Senior Management Team meeting record Oldknow as reporting that there would be a “Meeting tomorrow with LOTO to decide on some outstanding disciplinary matters (Livingstone/Coyle/Field)”.[823] This was a reference to a regular political meeting between LOTO and GSO, which took place on Thursday 1 February 2018. On 6 February 2018, Oldknow emailed Jackson:

 

Can you let me know what action you would like us to take in relation to NC and KL? I probably need to follow up KL with Seumas and Karie direct actually.

 

Jackson responded:

 

Re KL yes please do follow up with Seumas and Karie directly.

 

Given the repeated enquiries from LOTO staff about a second investigation into Livingstone being opened, and requests that this happen, and the high profile nature of the case, it was not surprising that such consultation should happen.[824]

 

At 13:54 on 14 February 2018, Matthews reported that the “Ken Letter” was “ready to go” – “Hi John, As discussed, need to get this out as soon as possible. Please find attached for using to chase LOTO.” The draft letter attached was a standard, template NOI, which contained two sentences on the new allegations against Livingstone:

 

Specifically, [the allegations] include your conduct immediately following the conclusion of hearing of the National Constitutional Committee (NCC) regarding your conduct on 4 April 2017. They also include more recent conduct such as your participation in a Press TV broadcast “The Big Conversation” on 26 January 2018 the topic of which was “has the Holocaust been exploited to oppress others?”[825]

 

Matthews’ email also contained a transcript of Livingstone’s April 2017 remarks, which had been produced by the Media Monitoring Unit in April 2017. Therefore Ken Livingstone being sent a letter about a new investigation did not rely upon any investigation already having taken place, despite the claims in McNicol’s email to JLM saying they needed to investigate and gather witness statements before the new process could be launched.

 

At 13:55 on 14 February 2018, Stolliday noted to Jackson, Allen, Oldknow and Matthews:

 

For KL the NoI is ready to go out today asking for an interview in the next few weeks so we can get this to Disputes in March as discussed.

 

Emilie is waiting to hear back from Seumas but we will need this to go out in the next 24 hours or so if it’s got any chance of coming to Disputes in March.

 

Oldknow raised this with Milne in the “SKEI” chat:

 

[14/02/2018, 13:51:08] Emilie Oldknow: The NOI is about to go to Ken as agreed with Amy

[14/02/2018, 13:51:46] Emilie Oldknow: Seumas, you mentioned before wanting to speak about this and we tried but never finished

[14/02/2018, 13:51:53] Emilie Oldknow: Or really started actually

[14/02/2018, 13:52:06] Emilie Oldknow: Can you let me know please

[14/02/2018, 14:27:26] Seumas: Can you call?

 

At this point, Milne discussed with Oldknow trying to arrange that Ken Livingstone resign from the party rather than go through another disciplinary case. The risk of another disciplinary case was that there would be further controversy and media circus; the NCC might again decide not to expel Livingstone; and Livingstone might take the party to court, costing the party a considerable amount of money. In April 2017 Tracey Allen had herself noted these concerns to the “SMT Group”, suggesting that people speak to Livingstone to ask him to resign.

 

On 20 February 2018, Matthews noted that “Conversations about [the KL case] are taking place at the moment.”[826] In a briefing note prepared for McNicol for discussions with Corbyn that day, it was noted regarding Livingstone that “It is our intention to bring a report to the March meeting of the Disputes Panel. In discussions with LOTO

about his suspension being lifted in April.” This is a reference to the fact his suspension was due to be lifted in April, and GSO and LOTO were now discussing how to prevent this.[827]

 

On 24 February 2018, Labour Deputy Head of Press Stephanie Driver apparently informed The Observer, on the basis of information from John Stolliday, that no further investigation into Livingstone was being opened, and indicated he would be readmitted to the party in April. LOTO staff recall that Seumas Milne was furious and believed this may have been briefed in order to create a bad news story for the leadership.

 

LOTO staff, including Milne, then intervened, briefing on background that “it is highly unlikely that Ken Livingstone would be reinstated unless and until those issues were investigated and resolved. And It would be wrong to suggest reinstatement is inevitable”.[828] This resulted in the following clarification:

 

After a day of confusion in the high command, Labour officials said that an NEC inquiry first announced ten months ago by Jeremy Corbyn, but never begun, would probably be opened next month – just weeks before the former London mayor’s twoyear suspension is due to end on 27 April. The about-turn by Labour came after the Observer contacted party sources on Friday and was told in repeated exchanges that no further action was in the pipeline and that the former London mayor was likely be allowed back in as a full member. When this was reported on

Guardian.co.uk there was a furious reaction from Labour MPs and members.

 

Five hours later, the party changed its line and said it would be inaccurate to suggest either that no further investigation was planned or that Livingstone was on course to be readmitted. It said the NEC would probably begin looking at uninvestigated claims against him next month.[829]

 

This was discussed the “SKEI” group chat:

 

[24/02/2018, 14:29:05] Emilie Oldknow: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/feb/24/ken-livingstone-hitlersuspension-end-no-further-action

[24/02/2018, 14:44:58] Karie Murphy: Ben just sent me it.

Catch up soon as on this one? No change this end to our suggested solution. [24/02/2018, 17:58:15] Seumas: Unfortunately Steph [Driver, Deputy Head of Press] briefed observer after talking to john Stolliday without discussing it further.. we now pouring cold water on background

[24/02/2018, 19:10:26] Emilie Oldknow: ????

[24/02/2018, 22:30:05] Seumas: Mean briefing led observer to say ken coming back because post hearing allegations not investigated blah blah

 

The following day, Milne noted that he had never understood why the Party had delayed so long in investigating Livingstone’s further comments:

 

[25/02/2018, 15:16:22] Seumas: Emilie, in our discussions about the KL saga I never quite got why the second investigation was never started, which observer has today made into a thing?

[25/02/2018, 16:06:15] Emilie Oldknow: Hello

[25/02/2018, 16:06:25] Karie Murphy: Hello

[25/02/2018, 16:09:57] Emilie Oldknow: Couple of things with KL

[25/02/2018, 16:10:47] Emilie Oldknow: Straight after the hearing we were worried about the straight forward double jeopardy thing

[25/02/2018, 16:11:18] Emilie Oldknow: And what he said on the steps was not as continuous. That is, in the first case he kept repeating and touring the studios [25/02/2018, 16:11:33] Emilie Oldknow: Then we were straight in to the GE

[25/02/2018, 16:11:49] Emilie Oldknow: Our plan was always to take a case to Disputes in Jan

[25/02/2018, 16:12:05] Emilie Oldknow: But then 10 weeks of 2017 were taken up with SH

[25/02/2018, 16:12:43] Emilie Oldknow: But biggest issue of why now was the Press TV thing

[25/02/2018, 16:13:01] Emilie Oldknow: And then the time it took for us to come to a conclusion

[25/02/2018, 16:13:11] Emilie Oldknow: Which I discussed with Iain last week

[25/02/2018, 16:13:28] Emilie Oldknow: We had previously agreed with Laura and Amy that we would go to Disputes

[25/02/2018, 16:13:51] Emilie Oldknow: Esstentially, it was always going to be either

Jan or March this year

[25/02/2018, 16:17:20] Karie Murphy: We should talk this through.

 

Amy has said she did not agree it was going to disputes she said options were discussed but no agreement.

But we do need a decision. What did Iain say about our proposal?

[25/02/2018, 16:17:41] Emilie Oldknow: Ok…

[25/02/2018, 16:18:03] Emilie Oldknow: Iain will need to answer that

[25/02/2018, 16:18:08] Emilie Oldknow: I made my recommendation [25/02/2018, 16:18:23] Emilie Oldknow: Which was Iain to administratively suspended again

[25/02/2018, 16:18:42] Emilie Oldknow: And for Disputes to remove in either July or

Sept, when they have meetings

[25/02/2018, 16:22:36] Emilie Oldknow: On Amy. We had a discussion about it [25/02/2018, 16:23:07] Emilie Oldknow: We discussed the logistics of taking it to disputes with Amy at length… She said that getting him referred to NCC “won’t be a problem” and promised that she would make sure Christine would allow it to be tabled

[25/02/2018, 16:23:43] Emilie Oldknow: Anyway. What matters is what we do now and Iain will have to advise

[25/02/2018, 16:24:12] Karie Murphy: Yes agreed.

Shall we pick up tomorrow if iain doesn’t join here?

[25/02/2018, 16:24:25] Emilie Oldknow: Yes. Sure

 

The discussion continued later that day:

 

[25/02/2018, 16:26:59] Iain McNicol: I think the 4 of us should pick up discussion  on KL.

[25/02/2018, 16:27:08] Emilie Oldknow: Cool

[25/02/2018, 16:27:30] Iain McNicol: He has said enough To suspend so I have no problem with that if needs be.

[25/02/2018, 16:27:48] Iain McNicol: We also need to sort timetable for election  of gs

[25/02/2018, 16:28:05] Iain McNicol: Karie do you have a draft as I have the one from my election

[25/02/2018, 16:28:32] Iain McNicol: This will need to be discussed before goid g to officers at 2.30 tomorrow

[25/02/2018, 16:29:11] Iain McNicol: Once we are sorted it may-may not affect what we decide to do.

[25/02/2018, 16:29:40] Iain McNicol: With handover I am not sure I can commit to it being lifted later in year.

[25/02/2018, 16:30:01] Iain McNicol: That will be a decision for disputes and new gs. [25/02/2018, 16:31:26] Emilie Oldknow: Current suspension runs out on 18 April I think

[25/02/2018, 16:31:32] Emilie Oldknow: Or just before

[25/02/2018, 16:33:50] Karie Murphy: I sent JC a timetable last night Iain but haven’t heard back

I’ll chase and call

Andy to get views. Can call you tomorrow too I’ve text you also.

 

Discussion continued on 27 February 2018, too:

 

[27/02/2018, 14:09:03] Emilie Oldknow: On Ken

[27/02/2018, 14:09:18] Emilie Oldknow: What are we doing? The papers are going out Thursday

[27/02/2018, 14:09:26] Emilie Oldknow: Everyone will ask what is happening? [27/02/2018, 14:09:32] Emilie Oldknow: Why isn’t he on the agenda etc [27/02/2018, 14:09:40] Emilie Oldknow: Is he going to be suspended etc?

[27/02/2018, 14:09:46] Karie Murphy: We need to talk this through again and settle it 

Can phone in 15 

Iain is here we will call you from LOTO

[27/02/2018, 14:10:18] Emilie Oldknow: JLM have, apparently been saying, it is going to March

[27/02/2018, 14:10:41] Emilie Oldknow: Yes. Please let me know

[27/02/2018, 14:14:34] Iain McNicol: I’m heading back to HQ

[27/02/2018, 14:14:45] Iain McNicol: If we need a call we can sort up

 

That afternoon, the “SKEI” group had agreed that “KL will be suspended towards [the] end of the week”, and go to NEC Disputes the following week:

 

[27/02/2018, 16:38:00] Iain McNicol: Discussed with Em plan good. Suggestion is to do  at the end of this week and get it out the way.

[27/02/2018, 16:38:51] Iain McNicol: That will be the news side of it and then it can be reported to disputes as an ongoing invetigation

[27/02/2018, 16:39:02] Iain McNicol: Next week

[27/02/2018, 16:45:56] Karie Murphy: End of this week is good

[27/02/2018, 17:29:43] Emilie Oldknow: Can I confirm. KL will be suspended towards end of the week

[27/02/2018, 17:29:51] Emilie Oldknow: It will go in the Dispute papers

[27/02/2018, 17:30:50] Emilie Oldknow: Which will go to Disputes at the end of the week for the meeting next week

[27/02/2018, 17:30:56] Emilie Oldknow: This will be a story

[27/02/2018, 17:31:05] Emilie Oldknow: But I think it is better to be proactive [27/02/2018, 17:31:20] Emilie Oldknow: Rather than reactive to everyone saying do it. Blah blah

[27/02/2018, 18:49:17] Emilie Oldknow: On Ken. Why don’t we NOI him on Thursday

[27/02/2018, 18:49:31] Emilie Oldknow: Say, we are investigating you

[27/02/2018, 18:50:00] Emilie Oldknow: And we will be continuing your suspension whilst this happens

[27/02/2018, 18:50:26] Karie Murphy: I’m with Seumas

Will call shortly

[27/02/2018, 18:50:27] Emilie Oldknow: And then it doesn’t go on the papers for Disputes

 

On 28 February 2018, the JLM wrote to the NEC Disputes Panel regarding Livingstone, cc’d to Iain McNicol, Laura Murray and Finn McGoldrick.[830]

 

The “SKEI” group further discussed the situation. It is clear from the conversation that Milne did not understand the reasons for extensive delays in launching an investigation, for which Oldknow then provided a variety of reasons. It was also clear that, despite the recent consultation, ultimate decision-making remained with GLUGSO, as in response to Milne’s suggestion that to announce to the press an investigation that day “would look too reactive”, Oldknow made clear she would “leave [any announcement] to you”, “But we will be writing to him today”:

 

[28/02/2018, 12:39:36] Seumas: Emilie can you WhatsApp kl lines as signal no good in chamber? Ta

[28/02/2018, 12:40:28] Emilie Oldknow: I’ve emailed to your private email

[28/02/2018, 12:40:35] Emilie Oldknow: But yes. Hang on

[28/02/2018, 12:41:27] Emilie Oldknow: Investigation in to KL has been underway since complaints were received about his conduct immediately after the NCC hearing in April 2017

[28/02/2018, 12:41:37] Emilie Oldknow: The investigation was delayed due to GE

[28/02/2018, 12:42:33] Seumas: No signal for email

[28/02/2018, 12:42:44] Emilie Oldknow: Which was announced almost immediately after his hearing. It was our intention to to bring the report to Jan Disputes with his interview being in Dec 2018

[28/02/2018, 12:43:01] Seumas: Are we saying investigation already begun but then put on hold?

[28/02/2018, 12:43:07] Emilie Oldknow: But due to SH, this was not possible (you may not want to say this)

[28/02/2018, 12:43:20] Seumas: You mean 2017?

[28/02/2018, 12:43:29] Emilie Oldknow: Ha appearance on Press TV led to a new set of complaints

[28/02/2018, 12:44:03] Emilie Oldknow: We are almost complete with investigation now and just need to see him

[28/02/2018, 12:44:20] Emilie Oldknow: I’m saying we had complaints and we’re looking in to them

[28/02/2018, 12:44:31] Seumas: So original investigation started and then put on hold due to other priorities and then new recent complaints?

[28/02/2018, 12:44:35] Emilie Oldknow: In 2017 but due to GE and SH it was impossible to progress

[28/02/2018, 12:44:41] Emilie Oldknow: Yes

[28/02/2018, 12:44:55] Emilie Oldknow: Now we have some new ones to investigate! [28/02/2018, 12:45:12] Seumas: So ongoing investigation but not prioritised due to ongoing suspension m?

[28/02/2018, 12:45:15] Emilie Oldknow: And he will be put under NOI with continued suspension today

[28/02/2018, 12:45:43] Emilie Oldknow: No. Not prioritised because of GE and Sexual Harassment

[28/02/2018, 12:46:04] Seumas: Maybe to announce that today would look too reactive

[28/02/2018, 12:46:19] Emilie Oldknow: Sure. I will leave that to you

[28/02/2018, 12:46:25] Emilie Oldknow: But we will be writing to him today [28/02/2018, 12:46:46] Emilie Oldknow: Otherwise questions will be asked going in and coming out of Disputes in Tuesday

[28/02/2018, 12:47:08] Emilie Oldknow: And I don’t think it should look like we say we have suspended him again following pressure which will come out of that [28/02/2018, 12:47:19] Emilie Oldknow: I think it looks better to say, it is already in place

[28/02/2018, 12:47:26] Emilie Oldknow: He does not know this yet though!!

[28/02/2018, 13:16:59] Karie Murphy: I’ve told Ken.

He won’t speak to media on any issues relating to antisemitism.

As agreed.

He should be suspended now.

[28/02/2018, 13:24:08] Emilie Oldknow: Thanks

 

Matthews had provided Oldknow with the reasons for the delays she cited to “SKEI”, earlier that day.[831]

 

At 2.31pm Matthews shared a draft of Livingstone’s suspension letter with Stolliday and Oldknow, which they approved. It contained the same two sentences on the allegations against him prepared earlier that month.[832]

 

That day, a new investigation was finally opened into Livingstone, and he was sent a suspension letter. Livingstone resigned from the Party in May 2018.

3.3.4.i. Assessment

 

GLU opening a new investigation into Livingstone involved writing just two sentences. However, for ten months after Livingstone’s April 2017 NCC hearing, no investigatory work appears to have been undertaken, no questions were put to Livingstone and no witnesses were interviewed. This was despite Matthews, Stolliday and McNicol informing JLM in June 2017 that an investigation was underway.

 

In this time period, both Jeremy Corbyn and LOTO staff repeatedly made clear their desire for Mr Livingstone’s re-investigation for his repeated offensive conduct, as evidenced by Jeremy Corbyn’s press statement and Murray’s emails to Stolliday. Jewish communal organisations including Labour’s Jewish affiliate, the JLM, also made clear how important this was to them. Despite Jeremy Corbyn’s public comments, and requests from both LOTO and JLM, however, Stolliday took no action, and appears to have had no intention of taking any.

 

It was only in early 2018 that GLU-GSO, now being more directly managed by Oldknow, finally began to discuss further action on Livingstone. Oldknow clearly understood, and Stolliday explicitly stated, that GLU-GSO retained the power to decide how to act on this case. However, given it was a high profile case, and LOTO had been requesting action, Oldknow consulted with senior LOTO staff on what actions to take, with the options of an NOI, a suspension or arranging for Livingstone to resign being considered.

 

LOTO Director of Communications Milne now favoured talking to Livingstone and securing his resignation from the party, as the manager of McNicol’s office, Tracy Allen had suggested in April 2017. This would have had the benefit of avoiding further media controversy; ensuring that another “soft decision” from the NCC was avoided and saving the Party from potentially expensive legal action. On 27 February, however, a suspension was discussed. On 28 February 2018, following a misleading briefing to The Observer apparently originating with Stolliday that said that Livingstone was going to be allowed back into the party, Livingstone was then suspended. On 21 May 2018 he resigned from the Party.[833]

 

As this makes clear, at no point did LOTO “interfere” in this case to protect Ken Livingstone. On the contrary, LOTO felt that the NCC’s decision in April 2017 not to expel Livingstone was a “soft decision”, and insisted that Ken Livingstone’s repeated remarks needed to be investigated. GLU, however, failed to take any action for ten months, despite queries and requests from LOTO and the Jewish community. LOTO and GLU-GSO then explored securing Livingstone’s resignation from the party in February 2018, before GLU ultimately issued a second suspension.

 

 

3.3.5. Jackie Walker[834]

 

Allegations of antisemitism against Jackie Walker first came to the attention of the national Party on 4 May 2016, when journalist Marcus Dysch raised Walker’s social media comments with Claire-Frances Lennon (then a Press Officer) who in turn raised them with John Stolliday.

 

The “Israel Advocacy Movement” had uncovered comments by Walker which included stating that “millions more Africans were killed in the African holocaust and their oppression continues today on a global scale in a way it doesn’t for Jews,” and “Many Jews (my ancestors too) were the chief financiers of the sugar and slave trade which is of course why there were so many early synagogues in the Caribbean. So who are victims and what does it mean? We are victims and perpetrators to some extent through choice”.

 

Walker was placed under administrative suspension the same day. Stolliday explained his rationale for the suspensions as:

 

Having looked at the screengrabs most were legitimate political opinion and not anything we would suspend somebody for. The ‘African holocaust’ language could be seen as extremely offensive, but it might also count as a clumsy but legitimately held opinion or belief. 

 

However, one of the screengrabs contained the phrase “But all this does not detract from my correction of Jewish particularism which counts their suffering above all others”. To claim there is a “Jewish particularism which counts their suffering above all others” is a common anti-Semitic trope. There is of course no hierarchy to racism,

and to allege that one race or religion believes there is, is in itself to cast an aspersion on that race. This was not language or criticism aimed at the State of Israel or Zionism, but at a race. Together with the other offensive language this required an administrative suspension.

 

Mass lobbying and protest against Walker’s suspension via emails and petitions followed. At the time, Walker was Vice-Chair of Momentum. Jon Lansman, a founder of Momentum and a senior Jewish figure in the Party, went to some lengths to remedy the situation with Walker and at the time accepted the apology and explanation she offered, which was that her social media comments were in reference to her individual ancestry, as a person with both Jewish heritage and with ancestors who were slaves, and were not intended to have a wider meaning. Later events, however, caused many to doubt the sincerity of Walker’s explanation.

 

Harry Gregson – then Acting Regional Director in the South East – attempted to arrange an interview with Walker, as per the investigation procedure at that time. Upon receiving a robust letter from Walker’s lawyer, however, which Gregson shared with Mike Creighton, Stolliday and Oldknow, the merits of the case were reconsidered. On 19 May 2016, Mike Creighton stated:

 

I think we may need to have another look at this one. It is the weakest of the recent suspensions I think.

 

On 27 May 2016, following Gregson’s interview with Walker – which Stolliday assisted in drafting the questions for – Gregson emailed his assessment to Stolliday and Creighton:

 

Yesterday I conducted an interview with Jacqueline Walker. Whilst Ms Walker admitted making the comments in the Facebook posts and continues to endorse her statements, she clarified what the intention of the statements were and placed them into a wider context. Perhaps one of the most controversial views expressed in the posts was that she believed their was a ‘Jewish particularism’ and they counted their suffering above others. Ms Walker argued that she was only referring to some Jewish people and that she believes that in every culture or race there are some people who will believe their suffering has been worse then all others. 

 

Ms Walker maintains that her comments were legitimate political discourse and that she is no way anti-Semitic. Ms Walker was also very clear that she has been an anti racism campaigner  for many years and that she was deeply offended at these allegations.  

 

Whilst I can understand that some people would be offended by her views, I  do not believe that these views are a breach of Labour Party rules. 

 

Following on from the interview and the investigation I recommend that Ms Walker has her suspension lifted and is readmitted to the Party.

 

This typifies the handling of antisemitism disciplinary cases in this period. The investigations were left to regional staff to conduct via interview, with no guidance on antisemitic discourse given to staff conducting the interview, and the outcome of almost all interviews was a recommendation to lift suspension and close the nvestigation. No explanation was given as to why Walker’s comments would not breach Labour’s rules.

 

Crucially, on 19 May 2016, Dave Rich from the Community Security Trust (CST) had emailed Iain McNicol with his expert opinion on Walker’s comments, and McNicol in turn had shared them with John Stolliday. Rich wrote:

 

This relates to an untrue and antisemitic theory that Jews were the major figures behind the slave trade. It is a theory that was first published in coherent form by Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam in a 1991 book called The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews. According to the Nation of Islam, the book “conclusively proved that Jews were in fact at the very center of the trans-Atlantic slave trade as merchants, financiers, shippers, and insurers and among the leading international marketers of the products of African slave labor.”

 

In fact the book has been debunked by all reputable historians of the slave trade.

For example Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., chairman of the the Afro-American

Studies Department at Harvard University, called it “the bible of the new antiSemitism” and “one of the most sophisticated instances of hate literature yet compiled.” There is much more detail about its historical inaccuracies here. 

 

As you probably know Farrakhan is banned from entering the UK, partly due to his antisemitism.

 

The theory that Jews were behind the slave trade is an antisemitic conspiracy theory specifically constructed to appeal to the black community and to divide them from the Jewish community. Farrakhan wrote and published his book in order to stir up antisemitism amongst African-Americans, as this article explains. The book has wider appeal, though, as antisemites of all types like it: for example David Duke; German Holocaust Deniers (this is from Germar Rudolf’s website); Islamist extremists at Radio Islam.

 

Walker also seems to be implying that Jews today are somehow responsible or answerable for the ‘fact’ that Jews in past centuries were involved in the slave trade. This is very troubling: what does she think the consequences of this should be for how people should treat Jews who are alive today? 

 

Regarding the point that Walker says she has Jewish heritage: in the same Facebook post, Walker writes: “what debt to we owe the Jews?” This indicates that she does not identify as Jewish herself, because she contrasts “we” with “the Jews”. So unless she believes that immunity from antisemitism can be passed down genetically through several generations, the fact that she has Jewish ancestors is irrelevant.

 

Also, even if Walker was trying to speak on behalf of her distant Jewish ancestors, her words have a meaning of their own once they are in the public domain. She endorsed an antisemitic conspiracy theory to anyone who was reading her post, many of whom presumably are not Jewish and do not have any Jewish ancestry. As has been shown above, this conspiracy theory appeals to antisemites. So she is responsible for that impact on other people and for contributing to the set of antisemitic ideas in circulation, as well as for her own intentions.

 

Despite McNicol sharing this with Stolliday, it appears not to have been shared with Gregson, either before or after his interview with Walker, and seemingly did not inform the questioning put to Walker. It also appears it did not inform the thinking of the GSO and GLU teams when they discussed Gregson’s recommendation following the interview.

 

When Creighton forwarded Gregson’s recommendation to lift Walker’s suspension to McNicol and Oldknow, McNicol only contributed “Agree lift” while Oldknow stated that the press team should be made aware.

 

On 27 May 2016 Walker’s suspension was lifted, and Oldknow asked a number of questions of Creighton and Gregson in preparation for media stories:

 

  1. What was the suspension for?
  2. Why wasn’t a warning considered?
  3. How will this lifting have a bearing on all the other cases we have outstanding?
  4. Harry – why did you make the judgement that her comments were offensive and not ‘bringing the party in to disrepute’?
  5. Does this mean this is the bar for which we are letting people back in? (if that’s the case, we are going to have a very big problem)

 

Creighton responded:

 

  1. We were approached by the Jewish Chronicle on 4 May with a series of screengrabs which they were intending to publish about Labour member Jacqueline Walker, alleging they amounted to anti-Semitism. Having looked at the screengrabs most were legitimate political opinion and not anything we would suspend somebody for. The ‘African holocaust’ language could be seen as extremely offensive, but it might also count as a clumsy but legitimately held opinion or belief.

One of the screengrabs contained the phrase “But all this does not detract from my correction of Jewish particularism which counts their suffering above all others”. This is not necessarily antisemitic depending on context. In my view we were a bit quick to suspend this one. 

  1. No need.
  2. None
  3. Harry can say but one doesn’t always lead to the other.
  4. The bar is antisemitic yes or no. In our judgement and the judgement of the investigating officer.

 

This reinforces my opinion that we shouldn’t be driven by the Jewish Chronicle.

 

Gregson added:

 

I don’t believe that if a member offends people then they should automatically be seen as bringing the party into disrepute. Of course if their comments are unacceptable to the Party (I.e clearly racist) then they should be expelled, but i think when you take into account Ms Walker’s explanations you could make a reasonable case that her views aren’t anti-Semitic.

 

This mishandling of Walker’s first disciplinary case exemplifies many of the flaws in the Party’s handling of antisemitism disciplinary cases in this time:

 

  • No guidance about antisemitism existed to inform staff investigating cases;
  • Staff displayed a low level of knowledge about contemporary antisemitic discourse;
  • There was poor communication between staff, eg. an expert opinion is sourced from Dave Rich but then not shared with those investigating the case;
  • There was a lack of managerial oversight, demonstrated by very little input from Stolliday and Creighton, and no input from McNicol or Oldknow until the investigation was complete;
  • Regional staff asked to conduct in-person interviews rather than written questions;
  • No substantive notes were taken from interview with Walker;
  • Creighton displayed defensiveness regarding both the decision and the process, rather than reflection or a critical analysis;
  • There was a lack of accountability regarding decision-making.

 

Following her re-admittance to the Party, Walker attended Annual Conference where she spoke from the floor at a Jewish Labour Movement training session on tackling antisemitism and engaging Jewish voters. She made comments questioning the need for security at Jewish schools, Holocaust Memorial Day and definitions of antisemitism, which caused offence to many Jewish and non-Jewish members of the Party.

 

Her comments were recorded and published in Huffington Post on 28 September 2016, and a number of complaints were submitted, including from prominent members of JLM. At 15:26 Neil Fleming (Head of Press) emailed Stolliday, Oldknow and Katherine Buckingham (Head of Disputes) to ask:

 

Is she being suspended? LOTO briefing she’s going to be…sigh…

 

This indicates that LOTO wanted Walker to be suspended and had briefed the media to that effect.

 

Walker’s case was also discussed in the Labour HQ WhatsApp Chat “LP Forward Planning Group”:

 

29/09/2016, 20:24 – Emilie Oldknow: If it’s for us, which it should be, she’s a goner 29/09/2016, 20:42 – John Stolliday: But pointless if we do it and they demand we reverse again – although I think she’s beyond the pale now, even for LOTO 29/09/2016, 20:43 – Iain McNicol: Agree. Have just sent Manuel quote to Seumas asking him to sign off suspension. Karie next.

29/09/2016, 20:56 – Emilie Oldknow: No. She has to go to NCC and we didn’t reverse it last time because of LOTO. It was because of what Harry G said. That’s my recollection anyway!

29/09/2016, 20:59 – Mike Creighton: Harry knew what result LOTO wanted. 29/09/2016, 21:05 – Mike Creighton: A letter of administrative suspension is ready for emailing.

29/09/2016, 21:15 – Claire-Frances Lennon: Would it not be best to go ahead and suspend and then if LOTO want to reverse…..make that obvious?

29/09/2016, 21:16 – Iain McNicol: No wait to see what they say.

29/09/2016, 21:16 – Mike Creighton: Spirit of unity, spirit of unity…

29/09/2016, 21:18 – Claire-Frances Lennon: 😢

29/09/2016, 21:24 – Tracey Allen: I can’t believe Momentum and its supporters are throwing her to the wolves because of outrage over anti Semitism. Smacks of left splits. Well I can hope…

 

In this conversation, Stolliday asserted that suspension from earlier in 2016 was reversed due to a demand from LOTO. Oldknow corrected him with the recollection that “we didn’t reverse it last time because of LOTO. It was because of what Harry G said”. Creighton then surmised “Harry knew what result LOTO wanted”. This assertion has no basis and contradicts the documentary evidence, which shows that Creighton expressed the opinion that Walker’s comments fell within the remit of “clumsiness” or “legitimate political discourse” and judged that they did not breach Party rules. The Party has seen no evidence that LOTO influenced Creighton’s opinion on Walker.

 

Messages in the Labour HQ WhatsApp group “LP Forward Planning Group” that day show that Iain McNicol was chasing Katy Clarke, LOTO Political Secretary, Karie Murphy, LOTO manager, and Seumas Milne, LOTO Director of Comms, for sign-off on the suspension.

 

This conversation implies that although Oldknow thought it should be within the remit of GLU and Labour HQ to decide on Walker’s suspension – “If it’s for us, which it should be” – McNicol insisted on consulting LOTO staff. There is no evidence that LOTO asked for sign-off on this disciplinary case. Walker was not an elected representative, but her case was high-profile because of the media attention it received.

 

Walker was suspended on 30 September 2016 and there appears to have been no further investigatory work undertaken until the end of the year, although additional complaints about Walker were received in this period. In January 2017, Ben Westerman (Investigations Officer) picked up the case and contacted Walker to arrange an interview, which took place in February 2017. A report was presented to the March 2017 NEC Disputes Panel which decided to refer the case to the NCC.

 

In July 2017, Sam Matthews, Head of Disputes, sent a bundle of evidence for Walker’s NCC case to John Sharpe, external lawyer, Stolliday and Westerman. However, no further progress was made on the case for the rest of 2017.

 

On 17 October 2017, Laura Murray, LOTO Stakeholder Manager, asked for an update on Walker’s case. Matthews responded to Stolliday: “Jackie Walker’s charges and bundle are currently being reviewed by the Party’s lawyers. We are also still awaiting final signed statements from a number of witnesses in the case – including Mike Katz and Ella Rose from JLM”. Stolliday responded to Murray that “Walker[‘s dates] will be shortly sent to [Walker] with proposed dates early in the new year.”

 

On 4 November 2017, Karie Murphy, LOTO Chief of Staff LOTO, enquired in the WhatsApp chat “SKEI” about the status of disciplinary cases:

 

“[04/11/2017, 05:49:19] Karie Murphy: I am being asked about timeline for investigations – basically more info on the actual process.

Who investigates?

How long it takes? Decision makers?

That kind of thing.

Do we have a plan?

………….

[04/11/2017, 07:11:56] Emilie Oldknow: Sam will do specific timeframe – as I say – I asked for this yesterday. It really does depend on the complexity, witnesses, statements. Anything which goes to the NCC has the usual timeframe attached [04/11/2017, 07:12:49] Emilie Oldknow: Six week minimum exchange of bundles and then waiting for a date from the panel – which is already a nightmare with the other cases – Wandsworth, Walker, Greenstein etc

 

However, the NCC bundle for Walker had not been served to the NCC Secretary yet, and therefore the six-week minimum timeframe had not even begun.

 

On 11 December 2017, Laura Murray emailed Stolliday again asking for an update on the progress of the case. Stolliday responded “Walker – no date arranged yet – will likely be February or March”. January, February and March 2018 all passed with no progress on the case, however.

 

On 7 February 2018, Matthews sent a list of NCC cases and dates to Stolliday and

Oldknow, and notes on Walker’s case

 

Bundle being finalised – long and very complicated. Awaiting outcomes of other key AS cases so as to rely on precedent.

 

In April 2018, Matthews explained to Tom Gillie, external lawyer, that “we’re waiting on the conclusion of another slightly related hearing which is scheduled to take place next Wednesday and Thursday before we finalise the bundle.”

 

This corresponds with claims Matthews made to Jennie Formby in a meeting shortly after Formby assumed the post of General Secretary, that GLU staff were deliberately delaying the Jackie Walker NCC hearing, to ensure that Tony Greenstein and Marc Wadsworth’s NCC hearing occurred first, despite Wadsworth’s case being more recent. The aim of this delaying tactic was to attempt to use the same NCC panel if those panels had expelled Greenstein and Wadsworth. Jennie Formby recalled this discussion in an email sent on 5 May 2018:

 

I was told by Sam Matthews in relation to the deliberate decision to delay it by over a year – a delay for which Jeremy has of course had to bear the blame.[835]

 

The Commission has asked questions, and received evidence, regarding this matter.

Formby did not feel it was appropriate that there were intentional delays to Walker’s NCC hearing, causing significant reputational damage to the Party, nor that there were attempts to interfere with the NCC panel and process, which are intended to be independent from GLU.

 

Jennie Formby was appointed as General Secretary on 20 March 2018, and explicitly and publicly made the resolution of antisemitism disciplinary cases her priority upon starting in the role on 3 April 2018.

 

On 3 April 2018 Sam Matthews had sent Jennie Formby a spreadsheet called ‘NCC Cases Grid’ which included planned dates by which final charges for outstanding NCC cases would be submitted and a proposed date for the hearing. Out of all the 52 outstanding NCC cases, Jackie Walker was the only case for which these columns about timescales were left blank by Matthews.892

 

On 24 April 2018, Jeremy Corbyn and Jennie Formby met with the Board of Deputies, Jewish Leadership Council and the Community and Security Trust, which stated that the Party should expedite Ken Livingstone and Jackie Walker’s cases.893 LOTO and Jennie Formby agreed Ken Livingstone and Jackie Walker’s cases should be resolved by the end of July.

 

That day, Formby emailed Thomas Gardiner and Kate Purcell requesting an update on Walker’s case, which Gardiner chased with Jane Shaw, NCC Secretary.

 

On 10 May 2018, Laura Murray enquired with Sam Matthews, Acting Director of GLU, Nareser Osei, Acting Head of Disputes, and Sophie Goodyear, Head of Complaints, about the status of the Walker case. Matthews stated it was with Cloisters, with no further reason given for the delay.

 

On 4 June 2018, Murray chased Matthews and Gardiner again for an update on the

Walker case, stressing the need for it to be heard by the NCC by July (as agreed with Jewish communal organisations). On 11 June 2018, the NCC bundle was finally served to the NCC Secretary and then served to Walker.

 

Throughout June, July and August, Walker via her lawyers requested multiple extensions. Formby and Gardiner attempted to expedite the process, but the NCC routinely agreed with Walker’s requests.

 

  • Walker initially asked for an extension to respond to the charges and was allowed until 13 July to do so.

                                             

  • 180403 NCC Cases Grid Jackie Walker
  • Statement following Board of Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council meeting with Jeremy Corbyn https://www.bod.org.uk/statementfollowingboardofdeputiesandjewishleadershipcouncilmeetingwithjeremycorbyn/
    • The NCC hearing was initially arranged for 12-13 September and throughout July and August Gardiner repeatedly made clear on behalf of the General Secretary their objections to the NCC granting Walker further delays to the hearing, following requests for delays from Walker on medical grounds.
    • In August, the NCC granted Walker a three-month extension. Further extensions were requested in September, which Gardiner and Formby strongly opposed.
    • The NCC hearing was rearranged for 26 and 27 November 2018. In November, Walker’s lawyers requested a further extension, which Gardiner objected to.
    • On 19 November, a lawyer acting on behalf of the NEC wrote to the NCC and Walker to object to any further delays to the hearing. Walker’s lawyers refused to engage with the process further.
    • Throughout November, lawyers acting for the NEC presented the NCC with evidence of Walker’s continued travelling and campaigning, posted about on social media, to prove her fitness to attend the hearing, given she had appealed for delays on medical grounds.
    • In January 2019, the NCC agreed to extend Walker’s NCC hearing again until 26 March 2019.
    • In mid-March 2019, Walker’s lawyers sought a further delay to the case which the NCC refused.
    • The NCC hearing was held on 26 March 2019 and Walker was expelled from the Labour Party.

 

As well as demonstrating the inefficiency of the NCC process and enormous amount of time and resource which it has cost the Party, Walker’s case demonstrates a continual drive from LOTO staff, and then from Jennie Formby once General

Secretary, to seek a speedy and decisive resolution to the case. However, the case was deliberately delayed by GLU staff until Jennie Formby became General Secretary, and then again by the NCC.

 

 

3.3.6. Moshe Machover

 

Moshe Machover was a rare example of LOTO directly raising concerns about a specific case in this period, as opposed to the cases which Oldknow and Matthews later proactively raised with LOTO.

 

On 3 October 2017, GLU auto-excluded four members, including Machover, over allegations of supporting a political organisation that was a rival to the party (the “Communist Party of Great Britain Marxist-Leninist”).

 

Machover, however, categorically denied being a member or supporter of CPGB, and his auto-exclusion immediately provoked considerable controversy within parts of the Party membership, focused on Machover being summarily excluded without process and without evidence that he was a member or supporter of the CPGB.

 

LOTO staff and NEC members found themselves inundated with emails about the case, including from Jewish socialist groups. As detailed in the “case summary” which the Party submitted to the Commission shows, concerns were then passed on from NEC Disputes Chair Ann Black, LOTO Stakeholder Manager Laura Murray, and Shami Chakrabarti’s advisor Ellie Hobhouse.

 

On 4 October 2017 Murray emailed Stolliday, Oldknow and McNicol to ask the reasons for Machover’s suspension.  

 

On 6 October 2017, Matthews shared with Oldknow and Stolliday the evidence supporting the alleged rule breach by Machover. This included evidence from the Labour Party Marxists website of Machover speaking at an event called Communist University 2016, selected articles Machover wrote for the Weekly Worker, and an article from 10 March 2016 where Machover is described as a “friend of the CPGB”.[836] Oldknow informed him that she would be speaking about the case to “Andrew M” (Andrew Murray) and “Will let you know if the big guns need deploying.” She emailed again later that day asking for clarification on why Machover was informed of his alleged antisemitism accusation in a letter about a separate rule breach.[837]

 

As the controversy unfolded, Matthews acknowledged to Oldknow that:

 

This, unfortunately, isn’t one of those cases where there is a single bit of evidence that closes the deal – it’s more an argument based on the full weight of evidence demonstrating that support.[838]

 

Following a conversation with Stolliday and Matthews, Oldknow wrote to Machover to clarify that he would be able to appeal questioning the validity of the evidence used against him (contrary to Matthews’ initial assertion that no such appeal was possible).

 

On 16 October 2017, Machover sent his response appealing the grounds on which he was auto-excluded – a 7-page document contesting both allegations against him and specifically stating “I have never joined the CPGB” and “I am not, and have never been, a member of the organisation known as Labour Party Marxists”.[839] His letter makes clear that if writing for a newspaper or speaking at an event linked to another political organisation is evidence of support for that organisation, this rule breach could be extended to a great number of Labour Party politicians who may have written for the Morning Star or spoken at events on the Conservative Party conference fringe.

 

The letters informing Machover and another member of their auto-exclusion on the basis of alleged membership or support for the CPGB, included a reference to antisemitism allegations against them. However, GLU did not auto-exclude either of them for antisemitism. They auto-excluded them for an alleged breach of Rule 2.1.4b:

 

A member of the Party who joins and/ or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or other unit of the Party, or supports any candidate who stands against an official Labour candidate, or publicly declares their intent to stand against a Labour candidate, shall automatically be ineligible to be or remain a Party member, subject to the provisions of Chapter 6.I.2 below of the disciplinary rules.

 

Labour Party rules do not allow for auto-exclusions on the basis of alleged racism or other misconduct, which are considered as alleged breaches of Rule 2.1.8. At that time, the National Constitutional Committee was the only body which could expel members for alleged breaches of this rule.

 

In cases which are alleged breaches of Rule 2.1.4b, the Party has the power to impose an “auto-exclusion” whereby an individual’s membership is automatically rescinded on the basis of evidence of support for another political organisation. In cases which are alleged breaches of Rule 2.1.8, a disciplinary investigation must take place whereby the evidence is considered and the allegations are put to the member for a response, which is considered by the NEC alongside the evidence.

 

Moshe Machover is an Israeli Jew and a Marxist, long active on first the Israeli and then the British left. He had recently authored an article – a lengthy defence of antiZionism – titled “Anti-Zionism does not equal anti-Semitism”, which was published on the cover of a newspaper of “Labour Party Marxists” (LPM) and included a passage about the remarks made by by Livingstone about “Zionist-Nazi” collaboration.[840]  This article caused offence. Among other things, the use of the quotation by Reinhard Heydrich, and the distribution of the article at Labour conference, offended many Jewish Labour members.

 

The Party’s disciplinary process recognises that individuals from protected characteristic groups can also be perpetrators of prejudice against said group, and has therefore suspended and investigated Jewish members for allegations of

antisemitism – indeed, an investigatory search term GLU currently uses is “Atzmon”, an Israeli Jew widely considered antisemitic (indeed a Labour Party spokesperson has publicly called Atzmon antisemitic). However, the fact that an individual is Jewish is important context in the disciplinary process in considering allegations of antisemitism. In any case where a Party member is accused of making prejudicial comments, the rules afford them the opportunity to respond to the allegation. Members expressed concerns that taking Moshe Machover through the autoexclusion route was not only a breach of the Party’s rules, as there was not insufficient evidence that he supported a rival party, it was also denying an Israeli Jew a right of reply to an accusation of antisemitism.

 

Oldknow had noted to Stolliday and Matthews that “the anti-Semitism stuff just clouds it in my view”, as it raised the question of why they didn’t process the antisemitism allegation “through the usual channels”, and they should instead focus on involvement in another organisation.

 

Oldknow ultimately advocated accepting Machover’s explanation and removing the autoexclusion if possible. Matthews and Stolliday had been resistant and Stolliday noted that the autoexclusion removal “makes me feel sick” before he approved it.899

 

On 17 October 2017, Laura Murray emailed GLU-GSO noting that both Jeremy Corbyn and Shami Chakrabarti were concerned about complaints from Jewish members that the processes not having been followed in relation to an Isreali Jewish member, and wished to prevent such a situation happening again by amending and clarifying procedures. Murray made a number of requests primarily aimed at making the disciplinary process more transparent and clear, both for LOTO and for Party members, and implementing the reforms recommended in the Chakrabarti Report.[841]

 

No one from LOTO argued that there were not merits to bringing a case about alleged antisemitism against Machover, but this would have to be done under Rule 2.1.8.

Automatically excluding Machover for supporting or being a member of another political party when there was not sufficient evidence to support this, was not in line with the rules. LOTO’s enquiries followed public controversy and appeals from Labour members about this breach of the Party’s rules. Oldknow ultimately decided to reverse the auto-exclusion following Machover’s appeal.

 

The auto-exclusions of three other members, one of whom was also implicitly accused of antisemitism (but was not Jewish, and was not well known), were not raised, and stayed in place. It was GSO which made the decision to drop Machover’s autoexclusion, and then did not proceed with any further case relating to antisemitism or any other matter under Rule 2.1.8.

 

On 4 October 2017, Dan Hogan had contacted Dave Rich from the CST for his opinion on the article. On 6 October 2017 Rich provided this – but his expert opinion was never shared with LOTO or anyone on the NEC, and after dropping the auto-exclusion no further disciplinary case regarding the antisemitism allegations was pursued.[842]

 

It is unclear why the complaints of antisemitism – which were the initial trigger for disciplinary action – were not progressed through normal disciplinary procedures, which would have been in line with the rules, but it is likely that the level of controversy surrounding the case deterred Matthews, Stolliday and Oldknow from further investigating the allegations of antisemitism. The mishandling of this case as an auto-exclusion for breach of Rule 2.1.4b, rather than a disciplinary investigation for alleged breach of Rule 2.1.8, ultimately resulted in a lack of resolution to GLU’s original allegation of antisemitism. (In March 2018 an antisemitism complaint was submitted and logged about Machover, but the case was closed by Investigations Officers soon afterwards, on the grounds that it had already been dealt with the previous October.)[843]

 

A month after this case, in November 2017, Stolliday explicitly acknowledged that “the implicit criticism and insinuation running through” enquiries from LOTO was “that we are not taking action on antisemitism”,[844] while on 24 January 2018 Hogan insisted that “it is certainly not the inclination of the Governance and Legal Unit, or of the Disputes Panel, to be lenient in cases of alleged antisemitism”.[845] This and numerous other pieces of evidence run contrary to the idea that LOTO’s raising of Machover’s case was somehow perceived as an example of ongoing pressure to not take action on antisemitism, which it categorically was not.

 

 

 

 

 

3.3.7. Conclusions

 

Staff in Jeremy Corbyn’s office have been accused of “interference” for responding to emails from GLU staff asking for their views on a small number of cases in the period where there was no general secretary in 2018 (see Section 4.3). However, this section has shown that before Jeremy Corbyn became leader, staff in Ed Miliband’s Leader’s Office were included in disciplinary decisions involving candidates and elected representatives at any level of the Party’s structures, as a matter of course.

 

GLU-GSO staff routinely asked staff in Ed Miliband’s office for their views on disciplinary cases, and carried out their decisions even when they disagreed with them. The same staff had a different approach to Jeremy Corbyn’s office, which did not have an equivalent say in disciplinary cases.

 

When staff in Corbyn’s office urged that GLU take disciplinary action against individuals who had made antisemitic comments, GLU staff reacted negatively, saying LOTO should not demand disciplinary action against individuals, or, in the case of Ken Livingstone, they ignored repeated requests from LOTO staff altogether until two months before Livingstone would have been readmitted.

 

This section has demonstrated that Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and Leader’s Office staff urged that candidates accused of antisemitism be removed and disciplinary action taken, and that Ken Livingstone, Tony Greenstein, Jackie Walker and Marc Wadsworth’s cases be concluded swiftly, as called for by Jewish stakeholders.

 

LOTO staff were unhappy with the NCC decision on Ken Livingstone’s case, and suspected that the NCC panel had given Livingstone a light sanction in order to damage Corbyn. LOTO staff repeatedly chased for an update on the new investigation into Livingstone’s comments, which Corbyn had publicly called for, but GLU waited ten months before finally launching the investigation and extending the suspension, just two months before Livingstone was due to be readmitted. Iain McNicol had inaccurately told the JLM in June 2017 that the investigation was underway and that witnesses were being interviewed.

 

In the case of Jackie Walker, Mike Creighton and Iain McNicol decided to lift her first suspension following her interview with Region. After her comments at Labour Conference 2016, LOTO appear to have briefed the press that she would be suspended, indicating that they thought Walker should be suspended. It would be another two and a half years before Walker’s case was finally heard by the NCC, however.

 

LOTO repeatedly chased for progress on Walker’s hearing in this period, and were told that her case “bundle” was being prepared. However, GLU privately admitted they had deliberately delayed the case, saying they did so to establish precedent through other cases. From April 2018 onwards Jennie Formby and Thomas Gardiner urged that her case be heard as a matter of urgency by the NCC, but despite Formby and Gardiner’s objections, the NCC agreed to Walker’s repeated requests for delays on alleged medical grounds. Finally, Walker’s case was heard in March 2019 and she was expelled from the Party.

 

LOTO did enquire about Moshe Machover’s case after they received complaints from members about an Israeli Jew being automatically expelled without due process in which he could be afforded a right of reply. This was not an auto-exclusion over antisemitism – which is not allowed under Labour’s rules currently – but an autoexclusion for alleged membership or support for a rival political party, which Machover denied. It was a breach of the Party’s rules to auto-exclude Machover without sufficient evidence that he was a member of or made comments supporting another political party. LOTO enquired about the reasons for his auto-exclusion, but did not argue that he should not be subject to further disciplinary action for antisemitism through the proper processes. It was Emilie Oldknow’s decision to lift the auto-exclusion on the basis of Machover’s appeal letter. GLU could have subsequently brought disciplinary proceedings on the basis of antisemitism allegations but chose not to.

 

4. The transitional period between General Secretaries, February 2018 – April 2018

4.1. The move to action on antisemitism: February 2018

 

4.1. The move to action on antisemitism: February 2018379
4.1.1. Summary380
4.1.2. Staffing383
4.1.3. Pressure for action388
4.1.4. “Labour Against Antisemitism” (LAAS)399
4.1.4.i. Ignoring complaints399
4.1.4.ii. Action on “LAAS”404
4.1.4.iii. Action on “LAAS” Cases – Assessment416
4.1.5. Conclusions426

 

 

4.1.1. Summary

 

From November 2016 to February 2018, GLU ignored the vast majority of antisemitism complaints, with key inboxes left unmanaged for months, with Matthews in particular failing to progress cases.

 

Although new positions were created in GLU at the end of 2017 following an increase in sexual harassment complaints, this increase in resourcing was mostly focused on sexual harassment and did not lead to a significant rise in antisemitism investigations.

 

However, pressure was mounting from LOTO – including Jeremy Corbyn directly – regarding GLU’s apparent lack of action on antisemitism and the delays to high profile cases, and in spring 2018 media reports on GLU’s lack of action combined with scrutiny from LOTO, MPs and NEC members led to some progress.

 

This is demonstrated by, for example, an email from John Stolliday to a colleague saying “I need to show to Emilie and LOTO that we have a thorough plan for progressing cases through at each stage”.

 

Jeremy Corbyn wrote to Iain McNicol in February 2018 saying “it is clear that the current processes are far too slow to meet the volume of disciplinary cases the party has to deal with”, yet “no procedural changes to the Party’s disciplinary processes have been brought forward by Party staff for consideration by the NEC”. Corbyn also expressed concerns that the Chakrabarti recommendations had not all been implemented and he relayed concerns raised with him and his office from the JLM Luciana Berger MP and other MPs and from Jewish members. Corbyn wrote “it is a cause for real concern that Jewish voices from across the political spectrum of the Labour Party still feel that we do not take antisemitism seriously enough”.

 

In February 2018 NEC members Andy Kerr and Jennie Formby also wrote to McNicol requesting information on the numbers of cases, the length of time it was taking to deal with cases and the cause of delays.

 

In 2017 a group calling itself “Labour Against Antisemitism” (LAAS) had started sending the Party documents with screenshots, running from tens to hundreds of pages, often without specifying which individuals they were complaining about or providing any information that could help the Party identify them as members.

 

GLU staff did nevertheless identify some members from these complaints, and following feedback from GLU in September 2017, LAAS improved their format for submitting complaints, specifying the individuals they were complaining about and providing some further identifying information. However, Matthews failed to act on the LAAS cases sent to him directly, or forwarded to him by GLU staff for action, and, as covered earlier, failed to ensure that the “Disputes” inbox was being managed at all.

 

In February 2018 LAAS claimed to the media that they had submitted 6,000 examples of antisemitic content from 700 individuals to Labour. John Stolliday responded saying:

 

The 6,000 cases they claim to have sent us. Is that right? How are we working through those? Should we sit down with all these cases or is it all in hand?[846]

 

This demonstrates the lack of managerial oversight of GLU’s work from GLU’s Director.

 

Matthews and John Stolliday described LAAS as “serial complainants”, who were “spamming” the Party, and said LAAS’ claims were wildly inaccurate. GLU did finally then take action on a number of LAAS complaints. But the reports Matthews produced on the number of complaints being dealt with, and his and GLU-GSO’s repeated assurances to LOTO that all these cases had now been dealt with, were highly misleading. The majority of LAAS complaints, in fact, remained without action, as did most other antisemitism complaints.

 

Meanwhile, Complaints staff also responded to LAAS incorrectly reporting that a number of individuals they had reported to the Party were not members, even for individuals whose names produced a single match on Members’ Centre and a sitting member of the Labour NEC. This was a consequence of an apparent lack of any guidance or training on how to search for members in Members Centre and match members’ profiles to social media accounts.

 

Where action was taken on LAAS complaints during this period, these were all simply investigations without suspension, although they included extreme cases of Holocaust denial and explicit hatred of Jewish people. The majority of LAAS’ complaints were not investigated at all, even though many were cases involving extreme and explicit antisemitism, and some involved Labour councillors. GLU-GSO reports to LOTO that

all LAAS complaints were being dealt with and receiving a “Notice of Investigation/suspension as appropriate” were not accurate.

 

It was only later, after Jennie Formby had become General Secretary and after staffing changes in the GLU team, that these individuals were suspended and investigated, either following new complaints being made about them or after GLU staff discovered these cases during their audits in 2019 into historical complaints of antisemitism.

4.1.2. Staffing

 

In October 2017, in light of the controversy over cases involving sexual harassment and assault, and the increased scrutiny by LOTO and the public at large, it was agreed to further expand the Complaints and Disputes teams.

 

On 26 October 2017, Oldknow emailed Matthews:

 

Just in light of all the stuff and investigations which are coming down the track, let me know whether you want to discuss again the staffing levels in the Investigations team?

 

I am happy to ask Iain for more staff – these can be on a year contracts to start with – but you need to ask.

 

The following day, Matthews responded proposing three additional officers in Disputes – two Investigations officers and a Disputes Officer who would work on NCC bundles. “These could be started on 1 year contracts and we could take a view before that year is up on whether the additional resource is still needed at the time.” Matthew’s proposal explained the rationale for an expanded team:

 

With the new complaints system & process about to launch, it will be easier than ever before for complaints to be raised with the Labour Party. This, combined with sporadic but increasingly regular news stories which concern the Labour Party’s disciplinary processes, there is a clear need for more resource to be provided to investigate these matters swiftly and effectively as our workload continues to increase. With current staffing levels in the Disputes Team, it is increasingly difficult for us to fulfil the team’s core duties.

 

It explained that “The most pressing issue for the team is the lack of resource available to assist the arduous task of assembling NCC charge bundles”, proposing a specially designated person to work on this – “a critical role if the team is to shift the current backlog of NCC cases and stay on top of new cases coming forward without significantly impacting other key functions of the team”.

 

Regarding the number of Investigations Officers, Matthews argued that:

 

Some of the most effective investigations which the Disputes Team has completed have been where space has been available to engage properly with local stakeholders, regional staff and the regional director. Investigations like those into Gorton and Liverpool Riverside CLPs required a lot of time and resource but ended leaving the constituencies on a stable footing going forward. The same is true with particular individuals where it has been possible to dedicate enough time and resource to engage with the particular dispute as a whole. 

 

With only two investigations officers covering the whole nation, that is often not possible.  

 

Matthews therefore proposed a further two Investigations Officers:

 

This should allow the disputes team to take a more strategic approach when dealing with “problem” constituencies and tackling the kinds of endemic breaches of rule which the team are seeing more often. This change would make it far more straightforward to identify who the investigating officer was in any particular case. As well as being able to provide an overview of the wider picture across their regions to ensure that all investigations are happening in a timely and appropriate manner, regionally focussed IOs could be a valuable resource for regions. They could fulfil a training capacity for regional staff on disputes and other GLU related issues and be a point of contact to provide advice or support when the regions are conducting investigations themselves. 

 

A number of complaints which we need to deal with are related to sexual harassment. Additional investigations officers will ensure that we have sufficient staff to investigate this allegations appropriately without putting undue pressure on a single member of the team.[847]

 

Oldknow then forwarded the proposal to McNicol:

 

We have been managing as best we can but I have been concerned for some time that cases are taking too long to come to a conclusion and also we are struggling to keep up with demand. It is also worth noting that these are at times, miserable jobs where staff face a multitude of abuse.

 

I have spoken to John and Sam about this and we would all like you to consider the attached staffing request for the Disputes team. These would be 1 year contracts to help us shift some of the backlog and on-going cases.[848]

 

On 2 November 2017, meanwhile, Sophie Goodyear also submitted a proposal for additional staffing for the Complaints team:

 

It has become clear over the last couple of weeks that the burden of work that will come from the new complaint structure is too much for the just the Head of Complaints.

 

The renewed focus on the issue of sexual harassment alone has increased the number of serious incoming complaints that need to be dealt with urgently.  When this is examined as part of the wider structure that requires all complaints across the organisation to come to the Head of Complaints in the first instance, it is clear that the resources are not in place to effectively handle the volume.

 

In order to ensure the party is effectively dealing with incoming complaints, is able to offer appropriate advice to complainants, keep a robust audit trail and take swift action to protect our members, I believe an additional two staff members will be required.

 

With a new focus on the internal procedures of political parties and how they deal with complaints, it is a matter of reputational urgency that these staff members are put in place.

 

Goodyear suggested a Complaints Officer to help “deal with incoming complaints” and

“provide support for the sexual harassment reporting hotline”, and a Complaints Administrator “responsible for oversight of the complaints inbox and team general phone number” and updating the “complaints centre database”.[849]

 

These positions were then agreed.

 

On 2 November 2017, Stolliday updated the team that plans had been agreed, copying and pasting parts of Matthews’ previous explanation:

 

The SMT have agreed to expand our team to help meet the challenge of the extraordinary amount of work we are facing. With the new complaints system & process about to launch, it will be easier than ever before for complaints to be raised with the Labour Party. This, combined with sporadic but increasingly regular news stories which concern the Labour Party’s disciplinary processes, there is a clear need for more resource to be provided to investigate these matters swiftly and effectively as our workload continues to increase. 

 

He also noted that:

 

Sophie will also be getting additional staff resource in the Complaints Unit. Later this week Ellie Buck will be joining us on a temporary basis from the SW region to help Sophie with complaints workload and staffing the hotline. I know you will all make her very welcome.[850]

 

On 22 November 2017, Stolliday outlined GLU’s new structure to Oldknow:[851]

 

 

 

Safeguarding Manager Ben Jameson was now seated with “HR”. This move followed his complaints of “bullying” by Goodyear.[852]

 

Sophie Goodyear, Head of Complaints, remained with Disputes. Goodyear would gain two Complaints staff, and Matthews an additional three staff – totalling five Investigations Officers and one Disputes officer focused on NCC bundles. External Governance would also be expanded from two to three.

 

In total, it was now planned for Complaints and Disputes to have ten staff (though, only nine of these were ever filled), in addition to the two NCC staff in Newcastle.[853]

 

In the meantime, Oldknow attempted to secure staff secondments from other parts of the organisation, such as Ellie Buck from South West Region (Regional Organise), and Kimberley Workman from Diary and Support Administrator, both assisting in Complaints.[854] From 31 January 2018 to 2 March 2018, a regional organiser Ellie Taylor was also seconded to Complaints.

 

In January 2018, Megan McCann started in a role as Disputes Investigations Officer, together with Hogan and Osei, and at the start of February 2018 Withers-Green also returned into Disputes from her Complaints secondment, to now work on compiling bundles for cases for the NCC.

 

On 6 February 2018, meanwhile, Stolliday informed the team that three administrator positions had now been filled:

 

  • Grace Gdobe as GLU administrator, starting on 9 February.
  • Martha Robinson as Complaints administrator, starting on 5 March.
  • Lioko Mabika as Disputes administrator, starting on 5 March.[855]

 

In March 2018, meanwhile, Tim Dexter also started as a Complaints Officer.

 

The Complaints and Disputes teams therefore underwent a considerable expansion in this period, from five to nine staff, with seconded staff contributing while the new roles were filled.

 

However, as the emails and documents exchanged between Matthews, Goodyear, Stolliday and Oldknow made clear, the rationale for this expansion was focused on the recent flurry of cases of sexual harassment and assault, along with the announcement of a national Complaints portal and the need to progress cases that had been referred to the NCC. It was not to address the growing backlog of antisemitism cases, which Matthews and the Disputes team continued to ignore.

 

GLU would continue to fail to address these complaints of antisemitism until midFebruary 2018.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.1.3. Pressure for action

 

In January 2018 elections for three additional members’ representatives on the NEC concluded, with Labour left supporters of Jeremy Corbyn, including Jon Lansman of Momentum, winning all three seats. For the first time, supporters of Corbyn had a majority on Labour’s NEC, the body that appoints Labour’s general secretary.

 

It was now expected that Iain McNicol, who had served far longer than general secretaries usually did, would resign.

 

In January 2018 Christine Shawcroft was then elected Chair of NEC Disputes in place of Ann Black. Following that January 2018 NEC Disputes meeting, misleading leaks to the media claimed that the NEC was now downgrading GLU proposals and “letting off” people accused of antisemitism.

 

Stolliday, Matthews and Hogan were keen to correct these misrepresentations. They noted that the NEC had actually upgraded one recommendation, from “Warning if completes training” to “Refer to NCC”. One recommendation was “downgraded”, from “Refer to NCC” to “Warning if completes training” – but that member then refused training, so was referred to the NCC and re-suspended regardless.[856]

 

On 20 January 2018, Jackson emailed McNicol and Oldknow:

 

As you’ve probably seen these accusations of not dealing with antisemitism are getting worse and are based on a misunderstanding/complete fabrication of what happened at disputes on Tuesday. We urgently need to correct the misinformation that is going around Westminster. I realise we can’t share details of individual cases but I think we need a letter from you Iain to go to john Cryer and Angela smith, before the PLP on Monday and Peers meeting on weds, laying out what happened as far as is possible.[857]

 

Oldknow agreed:

 

Copying John S. Yes, this is something we can do or Iain should respond to at the PLP.

Jon C was at Disputes and therefore will know the cases.

John – can you have a go at drafting?[858]

 

Jackson expanded:

 

I think the main accusation is that we were not strong enough on cases of antisemitism – so I would say something about how the case in the press they are all talking about, where the word ‘yid’ was used, was actually referred to the NCC. I think it should also talk about the positive and constructive nature of the discussion, and make the point that as a party we do believe in the possibility of

rehabilitation/education making a difference and where someone shows willingness to undertake such training we in general think they should be given that opportunity – but then outcome of it will be assessed and the cases referred for training will come back to disputes to see if it has been effective.[859]

 

On 22 January 2018, Iain McNicol then wrote to the PLP:

 

I cannot comment on individual cases which were considered by the Disputes Panel. However I think it is important to let you know that of the three cases involving allegations of antisemitism which were considered last week, recommendations of an NEC warning and training were made in two cases. 

 

In those two cases, the NEC agreed with that recommendation in one case and overturned another recommendation by sending that case to a full hearing of the NCC – strengthening the Party’s response. In the final case a recommendation of sending the case to the NCC was rejected in favour of an NEC warning and training. 

 

As a Party we do believe in the possibility of rehabilitation and education making a difference, and where someone shows a willingness to undertake such training we think they should be given that opportunity. However, the NEC Disputes Panel were clear that a failure to successfully complete that training, to show any contrition or to repeat this behaviour will see that member referred immediately by the NEC to the NCC for a full hearing. 

 

Despite rumour and inaccurate speculation in the press, the case in which the word ‘Yid’ was mentioned was referred by the NEC to a full hearing of the NCC for a breach of the Party’s rules. The NEC is clear that it will not tolerate abuse or antisemitism among Labour’s membership, demonstrated by the rule change passed at Conference last year.

 

I am deeply disappointed that leaks and speculation continue to undermine the work of the NEC. All of us at the Labour Party are determined to root out antisemitism, transphobia and abuse of all kinds, and we have made genuine strides forward in improving our procedures and rules in order to better do that.[860]

Rumours – which we now know to have been partly accurate – were also growing that antisemitism complaints submitted to the party were not being dealt with. As McNicol’s adviser noted on 5 February 2018, for example, McNicol was “keen to quash rumours of over 1000 outstanding anti-semitism cases tho but without giving specifics”.[861]

 

On 22 January 2018, Oldknow emailed Matthews, with Stolliday in cc, for an update on the progress of antisemitism cases:

 

Can I get a list of all the AS cases – where they are in the process, why they are delayed (if they are), which ones have we got through? etc.

 

Can I get something by the end of the day?

 

A few hours later, Matthews responded with an update. He noted that, aside from cases already referred to the NCC:

 

Prior to the Disputes stage, there are 60 members under investigation for allegations related to antisemitism. 31 of these members are administratively suspended. Their investigations are underway and at varying stages.

 

He attached a spreadsheet, but for “investigations” this included only members currently suspended, a consequence no doubt of GLU’s failure to use a system of logging and tracking cases. He also provided various reasons for delays in high profile NCC cases, including:

 

  • Walker – The case is complex and the bundle is very large. We have been working with the Party’s lawyers to get this bundle up to scratch. There is more work to do on it. It remains a top-priority case.
  • Livingstone – It is our intention to bring a report to the March meeting of the Disputes Panel.

 

In addition, going forward:

 

For those who haven’t been to Disputes yet, Investigating Officers will be reviewing where all investigations are up to within their regions which will give a better overview of resolution dates. 

 

For those who are awaiting hearing, Lou will be focussing on pulling bundles together when she ends her secondment this week which will speed up the time between Disputes and NCC. [862]

 

At a meeting of the Senior Management Team of Labour HQ on 22 January, Oldknow was recorded as reporting:

 

Anti-semitism cases have been raised in the press as a result of JLM briefing over the weekend and concern that the press team have not raised this with GLU or Policy teams and ‘no comment’ line not helpful.  Current list of all these cases and status in process is being produced.  Noted there are/have been some legal cases which have also caused delays in the process. Email chain to be started with Head of Press.[863]

 

(Oldknow’s concern was, apparently, that the press team had not provided comment rebutting stories about GLU failing to deal with antisemitism cases.)

 

That afternoon, Oldknow then sent the update (written by Matthews) to LOTO (Murphy, Jackson and Milne):

 

As discussed this morning, attached is a list of the AS cases and where the Disputes team are with them.[864]

 

On 22 January 2018, Kevin Schofield from PoliticsHome also contacted Labour press:

 

I’ve been told that there are several hundred outstanding allegations of antisemitism against Labour party members, and that the number could be as high as 1600.

 

The Jewish Labour Movement say the party should be doing more to process these quickly.

 

Georgie Robertson from Labour press spoke with Stolliday and Matthews, who agreed that the party should “strongly rebut” the claimed numbers. Stolliday suggested the line:

 

The Labour Party takes all allegations of anti-Semitism extremely seriously and is committed to challenging it in all its forms, but it is simply not true that there are this many cases currently outstanding. All complaints are investigated and acted upon as quickly as possible.

On subsequent discussion, however, LOTO spokesperson James Schneider responded:

 

That sounds like we’re admitting there are a few hundred but not near 1600. Is that the case? What is the reality?

 

This question did not receive a response.[865]

 

In 2017, Matthews seems to have been largely left to himself to manage Disputes, apparently with little managerial oversight, let alone performance management, from GLU Director John Stolliday. In spring 2018, Stolliday’s line manager, Executive Director Emilie Oldknow, appears to have taken a more interventionist role in GLU affairs in an attempt to ensure that work was happening, in the wake of increasing scrutiny from LOTO and other stakeholders over the lack of action over antisemitism and concerns about GLU’s general level of competence.

 

On 29 January 2018, Emilie Oldknow drafted “objectives” for the year for Stolliday, in advance of meeting him. These included, as one of eight items:

 

Work with the Disputes team to ensure investigations and subsequent NCC hearings are heard in good time and where possible have a maximum of 12 months from complaint to decision.[866]

 

On 3 February 2018, Stolliday drafted objectives for all members of his team. For Matthews, tasks included:

 

  • Work with the Director of GLU and Secretary of NCC to ensure investigations and subsequent NCC hearings are heard in good time and where possible have a maximum of 12 months from complaint to decision.
  • Implement a plan of regular team meetings at intervals which are appropriate. support existing staff in employee development and training
  • Recruit final investigations officer and fully implement proposed new investigations team staffing plan
  • work through those cases languishing the longest and try to clear long-running issues

 

For Jane Shaw, meanwhile, tasks included:

 

  • Work with the Director of GLU and Head of Disputes to ensure investigations and subsequent NCC hearings are heard in good time and where possible have a maximum of 12 months from complaint to decision.
  • to draw up workable procedures for NCC hearings on sexual harassment cases and get cases heard by the NCC as soon as possible
  • to get as many nec cases heard by the NCC as possible without unforced delay

 

(Grace Gdobe’s tasks included managing “Legal Queries”, and Stolliday’s own emails on his behalf.)[867]

 

On 6 February 2018, Stolliday emailed NCC secretary Jane Shaw:

 

We’re going to need a more intuitive plan of action for getting [NCC] cases heard within a reasonable timescale – probably 2 or 3 a week coming your way. 

 

Can you pull together for me by lunchtime on Monday next week a proposed plan for dealing with these hearings and work out how we can cope with volume? We may need to be a bit creative with multiple hearings, regional hearing days etc. We are going to need more NCC hearings than we have ever held before in a short timescale.

 

This was, he noted, because:

 

I need to show to Emilie and LOTO that we have a thorough plan for progressing cases through at each stage – at complaint/investigation stage, at bundle preparation stage post disputes and then at NCC stage.[868]

 

On 10 February 2018, Shaw in turn noted that she had been:

 

asked by John [Stolliday] to produce a plan that he can show to senior managers and the Leaders Office to show that the NCC has a strategy and are taking steps to enable it to rise to the challenge of hearing the huge number of cases that will be presented this year.[869]

 

She attached a draft plan, noting:

 

I’ve also tried to show that the NCC have reflected on the last 12 months and have agreed changes to our processes that will prevent so many hearings being cancelled and rearranged and that will also enable us to react with speed and decisiveness when we receive new cases and things don’t go smoothly.[870]

Her plan involved clearer timetables and expectations from both the accused, and

NCC members, regarding responses and availability. In addition, “Whenever possible a NCC panel will hear multiple cases consecutively on the same day or over several days in the same venue”.[871]

 

On 6 February 2018, Oldknow met with Matthews, and later that day he sent her and Stolliday an updated plan for action, which now included:

 

NCC Bundles going forward

As of the beginning of February, we now have a dedicated staff member responsible for finalising and sending on NCC Charge Bundles – that has made the attached plan possible. One of the Disputes Officer’s 2018 objectives is to ensure that the backlog is cleared over the next 6 months so that we can be in a position to report to the July Disputes Panel that there is no longer a significant backlog – and moving forward to ensure that the period from NoI to NCC judgement is no longer than 12 months

 

Ongoing Investigations/Suspensions

In the last 2 weeks, I’ve met with the Investigations Officers and set their objectives for the next year. They all now have a regional focus. One of their objectives is to do a thorough review of all the outstanding suspensions and investigations in each of the allocated regions to work out where each investigation is at and what needs to be done to resolve each one quickly. I have asked them to complete this work by the next Disputes Panel in March. This should see the suspensions list fall from the 163 it sits at currently by the March meeting of the Disputes Panel.[872]

 

This included planned dates by which final charges would be submitted, and a hearing could be heard, for all 52 outstanding NCC cases (with the exception of Jackie Walker, for whom both those columns were left blank).[873]

 

On 12 March 2018, meanwhile, after a press enquiry about a case which, it turned out, had been assigned to regional staff and then stalled, Oldknow asked Goodyear, with Stolliday and Matthews in cc:

 

Can you let me know what we are doing with chasing complaints which are allocated to the regional offices? How are they actioned and how are they brought to a resolution?[874]

 

Criticisms continued to mount, however, from members of the NEC, LOTO and the PLP.

 

At the January 2018 meeting of NEC Disputes, members expressed concern about the lack of information, and extensive delays in disciplinary cases. On 13 February 2018, Labour NEC members Andy Kerr and Jennie Formby then wrote to McNicol requesting information on:

 

  • the number of outstanding complaints;
  • the nature of the complaints (by broad category) including how many are related to antisemitism;
  • the length of time it is taking to deal with complaints; and a breakdown of the time-delay on current cases, for example the number of complaints outstanding after 3 months, 6 months, 1 year etc.
  • a brief analysis of the cause of time delays

 

Matthews and Stolliday helped draft McNicol’s response. Regarding 50 NCC cases awaiting hearing, they noted:

 

It is the Party’s intention that charges on all of these 50 cases will have been presented to the NCC by the July meeting of the Disputes Panel so as to enable hearings to take place on these 50 prior to conference this year.[875]

 

(Matthews also privately noted that it would be “difficult for us to give a definitive figure on the total number of outstanding complaints or the nature of complaints by broad category”.)[876]

 

On 20 February 2018, staff then prepared a briefing for McNicol for a meeting that day with Jeremy Corbyn. On antisemitism, it acknowledged that:

 

The figures provided do not include potential cases which are at the “complaint” stage of the process. They are currently being worked through by the Complaints team to ascertain who is and is not a Labour Party member before allocating for review by the region/head office complaints team to decide whether an investigation needs to be opened into a breach of rule.

 

Regarding the Walker case, it repeated GLU’s line that “The case is complex and the bundle is very large. We have been working with the Party’s lawyers to get this bundle up to scratch. There is more work to do on it. It remains a top-priority case.”[877]

 

On Friday 23 February 2018, meanwhile, Oldknow emailed Murphy, and McNicol, to depress concern that:

 

During Tuesday’s meeting with Seumas, Andrew and Iain, you made a very serious claim that John Stolliday had made mistakes.

 

Oldknow insisted that this was not “an appropriate way or environment to be raising your concerns”, and “if there are concerns then I need to see the evidence for those claims”.

 

She further updated on disciplinary cases:

 

On to disciplinary cases – we currently have 252 complaints which have been logged on to complaints centre – This number changes almost daily as we have more complaints come in and complaints being closed and dealt with. This is a new system and therefore regions are currently learning how to log everything, so this probably under-estimates the true figures. There are currently 162 people under suspension (at various stages in the disciplinary process) and another 50 people who are under NOI. The difference between the two is usually down to mediation/informal resolution/cases not being able to be taken forward etc.

 

Murphy responded the following day:

 

I don’t consider a private meeting in the Leader’s office between the Executive Directors of the Labour Party to be an inappropriate way to raise any concerns – we do similar on a weekly basis.

And:

 

I can confirm that I stated I was aware of concerns being raised regarding two matters managed by John Stolliday. I will now consult further and formalise these concerns as necessary.[878]

 

On 21 February 2018, Jeremy Corbyn sent Iain McNicol a letter regarding disciplinary procedures and the implementation of the Chakrabarti Report.[879] Corbyn wrote that:

 

As a result of a series of leaks from the NEC Disputes Panel of 16 January, I have been approached by a number of MPs, Party members and members of the public expressing concerns regarding the Party’s processes for dealing with complaints of antisemitism.

 

I have met with Luciana Berger MP, received letters from Wes Streeting MP, Anna Turley MP and John Mann MP, as well as being approached directly whilst out at events. In addition, my office has received complaints from a range of stakeholders, including the Jewish Labour Movement and other groups representing the Jewish community.

 

The key concern which has been consistently raised by every one of these individuals and groups is the fact that the Chakrabarti Report has still not been fully implemented.

 

Corbyn noted that “more than eighteen months on from the NEC agreeing to adopt the full recommendations of the Report… thirteen recommendations, which related to compliance and complaints procedures, remain un-actioned.” For example: “it is clear that the current processes are far too slow to meet the volume of disciplinary cases the party has to deal with”, but “No procedural changes to the Party’s disciplinary processes have been brought forward by Party staff for consideration by the NEC”. Similarly, there had been “no progress on the hiring of a General Counsel or staff lawyer to the Party, or the appointment of a legal panel of volunteer lawyers”, although it was “of particular importance that we urgently appoint these legal professionals, to advise the Party, the NEC Disputes Panel and the NCC on disciplinary matters.”

 

Corbyn finished by saying:

 

I firmly believe that the full implementation of the Chakrabarti Report will lead to a quicker, more consistent, efficient and legally coherent approach to disciplinary cases.

 

It is a cause for real concern that Jewish voices from across the political spectrum of the Labour Party still feel that we do not take antisemitism seriously enough.

 

I urge you to take the necessary steps to see the full and immediate implementation of the Report and I look forward to a full report on the progress towards making this happen.”

 

On 28 February 2018, Stolliday helped draft McNicol’s reply to Corbyn, beginning:

 

I understand the pressure you have been coming under from some Labour MPs regarding the implementation of the Chakrabarti report.

 

It maintained that charges on 50 outstanding cases would be presented to the NCC by

July, “so as to enable hearings to take place on these 50 this year”. Regarding “Labour Against Antisemitism” “and other related organisations”, it enclosed “the breakdown compiled by the team” – figures compiled earlier that month (discussed later):

 

As you can see above over half of the complaints made relate to non-members and therefore are not a matter for the complaints team. Of the 73 that are actionable a significant number are already under investigation. Those people who are not already under investigation will get a Notice of Investigation/suspension as appropriate and go into the process. As you can see this is far below the number reported in the media and I am confident that the complaints we have received are being dealt with effectively.

 

I know you appreciate the important work that our Governance and Legal team undertake every day ensuring not just that [antisemitism], but all forms of racism are stamped out daily. I know too how difficult their job can be at times and that you will want to remind colleagues in the Shadow Cabinet and the PLP that misguided comments attacking the unit undermine the work they do and serve only those in the right wing press.[880]

 

On Friday 23 February 2018, Ian McNicol resigned as general secretary.[881]

4.1.4. “Labour Against Antisemitism” (LAAS)

 

4.1.4.i. Ignoring complaints

 

“Labour Against Antisemitism” was formed as a small group of individuals, some members of the Labour Party and others not, in late 2016 or early 2017. Connected to the “GnasherJew” account on Twitter, they would document cases of alleged antisemitism among Labour members, which increasingly generated publicity on Twitter. “LAAS” members such as Euan Philipps, Emma Picken and others submitted numerous complaints to the Labour Party from spring 2017 onwards.

 

The approach of individuals from “LAAS” has shifted over time. From spring 2017 onwards, LAAS individuals regularly submitted substantial dossiers, many of which contained streams of screenshots of Facebook comment threads. These dossiers would often run to hundreds of pages each, and it was often unclear who was being complained about and over what. Other times, some individuals were clearly identifiable as Labour members engaging in antisemitism. In August and September 2017, for example, Louise Withers-Green and Monique Shockness went through some of these reports and identified a number of members to take action against. Other complaints that involved large numbers of unorganised screenshots were also sometimes investigated.

 

However, some evidence suggests that Matthews may have regarded these complaints as vexatious, or “spam”, and decided to ignore them. This may partly be due to the way that various “LAAS” individuals would coordinate together in all submitting the same complaints, presumably in an attempt to get GLU’s attention. (This may also be one source of LAAS’s inflated figures about the number of “reports” they have submitted.)

 

On 15 February 2017, for example, Withers-Green forwarded Matthews a 13-page document of screenshots sent by Jessica Naish of LAAS on 19 December 2016, writing “Antisemitism – perpetrator not clear.” (Several individuals were in fact clearly identifiable, such as Zaman Nazari, who GLU had sent an NOI to earlier that month.)[882] A few hours later, Matthews then emailed Withers-Green with an example of “how we dealt with a serial complainer about nothing at all” – a letter which said that “The screenshots you have supplied, particularly in the latter of your two letters, fall firmly within the boundaries of legitimate political discourse.”[883] In March 2017, Withers-Green noted to Matthews that Naish “sends in lots [of complaints”].[884]

 

In September 2017, GLU then emailed “LAAS” regarding formats for complaints. As Matthews recalled in February 2018, “LAAS” were “serial complainants”:

 

Months ago, when they were spamming legal queries with unhelpfully formatted word documents which ran to tens of pages about tens of different members, Lou sent them a description of what a complaint might look like which would be easier for the Party to process (one email per respondent, evidence in a word document etc).[885]

 

On 7 September 2017, “Legal Queries” emailed Philipps regarding nine emails of “Screenshot documents” he had sent in the preceding two months:

 

We are unable to accept documents of this sort as a complaint, it appears to be about a number of people but it is unclear exactly who.  Complaints need to be broken down to relate to specific individuals.  

 

The list below is an example of an effective complaint structure:

 

  • Name of the individual you are complaining about
  • Allegation
  • Identifying location / social media account / any other identifying information Evidence upon which the allegation is based[886]

 

Philipps responded that the names of the individuals were “all those who are making antisemitic comments or supporting George Galloway” and the evidence was “the screenshots themselves”.[887] In February 2018, Matthews recalled this as a “deliberately obtuse response.”[888]

 

The same advice was also given to other “LAAS” members,[889] as well as other complainants such as Jewish member Colin Appleby:

 

As explained below we are unable to accept documents of this sort as complaints.

 

This is something that we have communicated to all individuals who have summited documents similar to yours.[890]

 

In February 2018 Stolliday did not know whether or not Disputes were talking to LAAS.[891] In March 2018, however, based on Matthews’ information, Stolliday reported:

 

The one time we did contact [LAAS] was to tell them it was unhelpful to send random social media posts in the middle of the night and they ought to compile information about individuals into one document rather than effectively spam us.[892]

 

Individuals such as Euan Philipps, LAAS “spokesperson”, were rude in their tone, and had submitted a number of spurious complaints. The Labour Party received a number of complaints from 2017 onwards about their abusive conduct online, including allegations of “dogpiling” of individuals on Twitter.

 

On 30 August 2016, for example, Euan Philipps had replied to a Labour Party email, sent on behalf of the Jeremy Corbyn campaign, by saying “Fuck off Jeremy”. On 3 September 2016 this was flagged by staff to “Validation” as a case of abuse to act on.[893] However, no action was taken. In 2018-19 the Labour Party has received a number of complaints alleging abusive behaviour by Philipps, including racism, Islamophobia, homophobia and antisemitism, both online and in-person. This case is ongoing.

 

Philipps was a CLP Secretary in Tonbridge and in April 2017 applied to be their Labour parliamentary candidate. Surprisingly, he was marked by GLU as “Suitable with advisement”.[894] Based on candidate CVs and the information GLU provided, LOTO even recommended he be selected as the candidate, though this did not happen.[895]

 

His first complaints clearly underlined his political motivation as a complainant. On 20

September 2016 Philipps submitted a complaint asking for an investigation into Momentum over data use.[896] On 8 March 2017 he submitted a complaint about the cover image of a Facebook group which said, with a picture of Corbyn, “Labours Leader Deal With It / Blairites Deal With It / Tory Wannabes Deal With It / Torys We Are

Coming for You”. The title of Philipps’ email was “reported antisemitism”, but he did not specify who he was complaining about or why, or provide any evidence of antisemitism.[897] On 14 March 2017, Philipps submitted a complaint for antisemitism over a single tweet in which someone wrote “I just despise apartheid bullies. Like Israel”,[898] and on 23 March 2017 he submitted a complaint about someone being involved in Momentum – “Should members be colluding with non-affiliated organisations to influence CLPs?”[899]

 

On 22 March 2017, meanwhile, Euan Philipps submitted a complaint with a document containing a series of screenshots from a member’s Twitter account. As well as a few allegations of antisemitism-related retweets, he complained about the member:

 

  • Retweeting “the word Blairite”.
  • Retweeting a cartoon of Theresa May, Philip Hammond and Boris Johnson, in which the latter two are children, based on a viral incident where the children of an expert being interviewed by the BBC wandered into shot during the interview. Philipps maintained this was “very crass”.
  • Retweeting Michael Moore saying “Arrest Trump” regarding “Russiagate” –

“Calling for the arrest of the President of the USA…”

  • “Calling for the impeachment of the POTUS” (Donald Trump).
  • Writing “what planet is this President on” in reference to Donald Trump – “Not words I would expect from an potential elected official of Labour”.
  • Criticising Melania Trump as “Money-mad” – “Again inappropriate”.
  • “Calling the White House Amateurs”.
  • Retweeting an article on Bernie Sanders calling on Donald Trump to fire Steve Bannon.[900]

 

The antisemitic, Islamophobic and racist views of both Donald Trump and Steve Bannon are widely known and extensively documented. Most Labour members and elected representatives would consider criticising Donald Trump to be very normal conduct, and opposing such criticism, in fact, to be contrary to the aims and values of the Labour Party. Complaints such as this may have influenced GLU’s treatment of LAAS complaints.

 

From late March 2017 onwards Philipps appears to have settled on antisemitism as the issue he was complaining about. Importantly, the Labour Party does not believe that abusive conduct or spurious complaints should mean that valid complaints can be ignored. The Party’s main complainant on antisemitism in 2019 is highly abusive towards staff, and sends many complaints that contain little or no evidence – but all his complaints are nevertheless logged and investigated.

 

Other LAAS members were also Jewish and had consistently raised antisemitism, and the “LAAS” reports were varied and improved over time. Most of the reports they submitted in the summer and autumn of 2017 had the screenshots organised by individual, they contained many valid complaints, and, as noted, Withers-Green and Shockness had successfully identified a number of Labour members from them.

 

Furthermore, following GLU’s instructions “LAAS” then reformatted some of their reports into a more accessible format, submitting them again to the party – but, after being forwarded from “Legal Queries” to “Disputes”, these appear to have never been examined.

 

For example, “report17 – new style” was the first to be resubmitted, on 19 September 2017.[901] Each individual was now clearly identified, with a summary of the evidence against them and a link to their social media profile provided. However, nothing appears to have happened with it beyond being forwarded from “Legal Queries” to “Disputes”.

 

After uncovering this email in our historical audits in autumn 2019, we investigated the 14 individuals within and found 5 Labour members against whom action should have been taken. One of these had since lapsed, two had been suspended from subsequent complaints in 2018-19, and two we have now taken action against on the basis of this report (one member being suspended, one under NOI).961 These individuals were all easy to identify from the report.

 

On 21 September 2017 Philipps sent “report8 re issue”. This was still a sprawling document of screenshots, but had some added text to identify the members being accused and what the allegations were.[902] Starting on 4 November 2017, “LAAS” then switched entirely to the style GLU had requested, submitting separate documents on single named individuals, generally with links to their social media profiles, evidence of their Labour membership, and information on their location or CLP.

 

Between 4 November 2017 and 14 February 2018, LAAS submitted individual complaints about 86 individuals, about two thirds of whom were members of the Labour Party. Their earlier complaints had also contained dozens of easily identifiable individuals who should have been investigated, and now have been after these emails were discovered in our historical audits.

 

Most of these complaints were extreme in nature, and some involved elected representatives of the party such as Labour councillors. All of these cases were forwarded from “Legal Queries” to “Disputes”. Matthews was also regularly copied in and emailed directly by the “LAAS” complainants.

 

However, as with most other antisemitism complaints submitted between November 2016 and February 2018, including the members identified by Withers-Green and sent to Matthews for action, no action was then taken.

 

4.1.4.ii. Action on “LAAS”

 

In February 2018, GLU’s failure to deal with antisemitism complaints became a media story.

 

On 8 February 2018, “LAAS” emailed Alex Sobel MP, a Jewish Labour MP, claiming:

 

We were concerned that you had heard that there were only 200 cases of antisemitism by Labour Party members pending, as this massively understates the scale of the problem.

 

“LAAS” claimed that they had “collated over 6,000 examples of antisemitic content from Labour members in the last 12 months” and sent GLU “over 700 individual reports” in a format agreed “in liaison with the compliance unit who have specified what they require from us”. They also claimed that GLU “was not adequately resourced for the number of reports LAAS have submitted and have recently recruited more staff to cope”.[903]

 

On 13 February 2018, Sobel forwarded the email to McNicol saying “this is why I need the figures”. At 10.32 on 14 February Tracy Allen, McNicol’s adviser, sent this to Stolliday and Oldknow seeking their “guidance”. Six minutes later, Stolliday emailed Matthews:

 

Are we talking to LAAS? Have we really told them the best format to send in complaints etc?

 

I’m worried they are going to MPs and speaking with some authority as if they are somehow linked to our processes and getting their facts totally wrong and getting the PLP all worked up – eg this nonsense about Christine delaying NCC hearings and us recruiting staff to deal with LAAS complaints.

 

Then there’s a wider issue of the 6,000 cases they claim to have sent us. Is that right? How are we working through those? Should we sit down with all these cases or is it all in hand.[904]

 

Stolliday’s question about the “6,000 cases [“LAAS”] claim to have sent us” and whether they should “sit down with all these cases or is it all in hand” gives an indication of the level of oversight and understanding that Stolliday maintained into the work of the Disputes team.

 

An hour later, Oldknow replied to Allen’s email:

 

John – who has LAAS sent this information to?

 

I cannot believe if all this was passed on, it wouldn’t have been logged.[905]

 

Matthews, however, responded to Stolliday:

 

This “organisation” (2 individuals) is problematic.

 

We are not working with them under any sort of formal agreement. They are however serial complainants – mainly via Euan Philipps. Months ago, when they were spamming legal queries with unhelpfully formatted word documents which ran to tens of pages about tens of different members, Lou sent them a description of what a complaint might look like which would be easier for the Party to process (one email per respondent, evidence in a word document etc). A copy of what Lou sent Euan Philipps along with his response is attached to this email – along with his deliberately obtuse response

 

He says he has sent us 6000 individual antisemitic incidents (screenshots) across 700 cases. While the 6000 figure is likely an exaggeration in and of itself, it’s possible he’s sent us 6000 screenshots, he certainly has not sent us 700 individual reports – this figure is a fabrication. 

 

There are 2 individuals who run Labour Against Antisemitism. Euan Philipps and

Emma Picken. A search of my inbox, legal queries and Disputes for Euan Philipps or Emma Picken returns 157 results in total. The complaints fall into one of the following categories which outlines why the real number of complaints which it is possible for the Labour Party to do anything with is not even 157, let alone 700: 

  1. Valid complaints showing a prima facie breach of 2.I.8 on the basis of the IHRA definition against current Labour Party Members, not currently subject to disciplinary action.
  2. Valid complaints showing a prima facie breach of 2.I.8 on the basis of the

IHRA definition against current Labour Party Members who are already subject to disciplinary action. 

A cursory glance down the names of those reported shows Maher Hamadouch &

Cyril Chilson both awaiting NCC hearing from before LAAS report)

  1. Valid complaints showing a prima facie breach of 2.I.8 on the basis of the IHRA definition against people who are no longer or have never been members of the Labour Party.
  2. Complaints which do not show a prima facie breach of 2.I.8 on the basis of the IHRA definition against current Labour Party members and people who are no longer or have never been members of the Labour Party.
  3. Duplicate reports.

 

We obviously can’t disclose the membership status, let alone particulars of disciplinary action, to any third party – particularly when that third party has demonstrated that they have absolutely no consideration for their responsibilities under the DPA. Aside from any issues with information they could disclose in breach of the DPA, there are also clear issues with LAAS’s pattern of propagating

(deliberately or otherwise) obvious misinformation to members of the PLP and other stakeholders alike. 

 

One of Lioko’s first jobs with Martha will be working through complaints which have been received over the last 2-3 months and feed them into Complaint Centre so it can go via the proper process to take appropriate action on. 

 

Hope this is helpful. As discussed, I think some standard lines to rebut this organisation’s propagation of misinformation to use internally and with key stakeholders might be helpful to give Iain. I don’t want to address any of the substantive issues of an individual complaint with them, but some lines which point out that: 

  • LAAS do not have a definitive idea of who is a member of the Labour Party as they do not (and should not) have access to our membership lists.
  • LAAS do not know who is currently subject to disciplinary action by the Labour Party (save for those who have made it public knowledge), and nor should they.
  • All complaints are dealt with within our rules and procedures (standard lines on new complaints team etc etc) – the Party absolutely does not recognise the 6000 or 700 figure.

 

Let me know if you want that worked up.[906]

 

Stolliday did not question any of Matthews’ information. Instead, he replied:

 

This is very useful – thanks.

 

Emilie just contacted me about this so I’ve passed on your summation.[907] 

 

Stolliday emailed Oldknow and Allen, pasting the information Matthews had written into his email. Allen responded “Thanks John – this is really clear”, and Stolliday agreed with her proposal to respond to Sobel along those lines.[908] Matthews helped draft this email from McNicol to Sobel, sent on 15 February, which assured him that:

 

The Party absolutely does not recognise the 6000 or 700 figure, nor the 200 antisemitism cases pending figure.

 ….

 

I want to reassure you that we keep stringent records and deal with cases as quickly as is possible.[909]

 

On 19 February 2018, Oldknow then wrote to Sophie Goodyear:

 

Apparently, there are a load of complaints in over the weekend about AS.

 

Sam says loads of these are not Labour Party members.

 

Oldknow asked if complainants were told they were not members, and Goodyear responded they would respond that:

 

we have been unable to identify the individual as a member of the Labour Party, we will therefore not be able to progress your complaint. If you have any further information that may help us identify the individual then please do get in touch.

 

This email did not differentiate between cases where Labour was concluding they clearly were not members, and cases where Labour sought additional information to confirm who they were, however.

 

Oldknow approved – “Yes, that’s perfect.”[910]

 

Following this, the Complaints team began going through some “LAAS” complaints.

Between 16 February 2018 and 21 February 2018, a five day period, Eleanor Taylor in

“Complaints” logged 34 cases in “Complaints Centre” with the category of “Antisemitism”, all from “LAAS”. (This compared to just 14 complaints relating to antisemitism logged in “Complaints Centre” in the previous three months, most of which appear to have received no action after being logged.) The team also responded to complaints regarding people they could not identify as members.

 

At 11.31am on Wednesday 21 February 2018, Matthews then emailed the Disputes team – Hogan, Withers-Green, Osei and Megan McCann – regarding acting on these cases. He noted that Complaints were “currently working through the backlog of complaints submitted by the 3 individuals who run LAAS” and “these are being allocated to you based on which regions you cover by the Complaints Team”:

 

Around two thirds of the complaints relate to individuals who are not currently labour party members, and a further proportion of the remaining third we have already either picked up from the LAAS complaint when it came in or they are about individuals we are already taking disciplinary action against. They have submitted around 250 complaints in total. The upshot therefore is that there will be anywhere up to 100 additional complaints relating to antisemitism based on documentary evidence which we will need to process and deal with. 

 

Some of these will not represent a prima facie breach of 2.I.8 and, as always, you will need to use your judgement in applying the IHRA (NEC adopted) definition of antisemitism and the rule itself in deciding which ones require further action. 

 

Senior stakeholders in the Labour Party are starting to get agitated because LAAS are propagating the claim that they have submitted anywhere between 700 and 6000 complaints to the Labour Party. This is obviously untrue but in order to rebut this false information we will need to set up a process in order to deal with these identikit-complaints.

 

Matthews suggested that the “only way we can deal with these swiftly is to deal with the majority over correspondence”, attaching “a new NoI template which contains some model questions to go out with the evidence attached specifically for using with LAAS complaints (and any which are similar)”.[911]

 

Previously, the approach of GLU had been for Regional and central staff to arrange individual interviews with every respondent. As discussed earlier, it would have made sense to make this transition to centralised handling of complaints, and seeking written responses rather than arranging interviews, much earlier. For example, this would have helped when the party had to deal with 230 cases based entirely on screenshots of social media conduct after the 2016 “Validation” process.

 

Matthews emphasised “this needs to be a priority for the whole team”. However, to

Hogan’s response “While I understand this is a priority, can this wait until Monday?”, Matthews replied “Yes.”[912] (Hogan did not, in the end, send any investigatory letters on the cases assigned to him by Taylor until Monday 5 March, almost two weeks after Matthews’ email.)

 

Later that day, Matthews followed up:

 

Good news – it’s only 73 and that number includes some who we are already taking action against. They should all have been allocated to you on Complaint Centre.[913]

 

At 4.07pm, Matthews sent Stolliday a full update:

 

Just on this, and obviously feel free to pass on as appropriate. 

 

CT have now sifted through all the LAAS complaints. What it shows is only one in five (22% to be exact) of the emails LAAS sends is actually a complaint the labour party may be able to do something about. Within that 22%, some of them will already be under investigation. 

 

Breakdown is as follows: 

TOTAL EMAILS: 323

DUPLICATES: 63 (20%)

TOTAL NON-MEMBERS: 187 (58%)

TOTAL ACTIONABLE COMPLAINTS: 73 (22%)

 

Of that 73 remaining, a number of people we’re already taking action about are included – we’ll only know who they are once my team have reviewed what has been allocated to them today on Complaint Centre. Hardly the 700 they profess to have sent in. 

 

The 73 have been allocated to the appropriate IO on Complaint Centre. As per the email sent round below, the team will be using the attached template to clear these out the way as quickly as we can.[914]

 

The following day, on 22 February, Stolliday responded:

 

This is very useful – thanks[915]

 

He then sent an update to Oldknow, pasting Matthew’s report with some slight editing, including adding that:

 

The 73 have been allocated to the appropriate investigating officer on Complaint

Centre. Those people who are not already under investigation will get a Notice of Investigation/suspension as appropriate in the next week or so and go into the process.[916]

 

Oldknow thanked Stolliday, and sent the information on to McNicol.[917]

 

It was also at this time that GLU-GSO seem to have realised their months-long confusion over inboxes. On 21 February 2018 Jackie Stacey from GSO met with Complaints staff on issues including “co-ordinating incoming comms (Complaints, Disputes and Legal Queries inboxes)”. Goodyear agreed to “discuss with colleagues from the other units”, and the agreed aim was “to use Complaints as the main inbox for incoming comms, with Complaints Team staff filtering items and passing appropriate emails on to Disputes or Legal Queries”, with “Disputes” then becoming a purely internal email.[918]

 

From this point on, “Legal Queries” would forward complaints to “Complaints”, not directly to “Disputes”, and on 22 February 2018 the complaints team for the first time created an “antisemitism” folder in their “Complaints” inbox.[919]

 

The issue did not go away, however, and on 3 March 2018 The Independent contacted Labour’s press team for “a Labour response to LAAS’ claims (below) that the Compliance Unit is failing to deal with allegations of antisemitism effectively”:

 

Labour Against Antisemitism, who have Identified and reported thousands of party members for antisemitism and abusive behaviour over the last 12 months, have claimed that following the announced departure of General Secretary Iain McNicol, communications from Labour’s compliance unit have become disjointed, confused and chaotic.

 

“LAAS” pointed to Labour’s complaints team having recently responded to them that several prominent Labour activists they had reported, including a sitting councillor, were not Labour members.[920] These claims were then published by The Independent.

 

Stolliday, however, responded to the email chain, which included Labour and LOTO press as well as GLU-GSO:

 

This is clearly just wrong.

 

The Complaints team have sifted through all the LAAS complaints. What it shows is only one in five (22% to be exact) of the emails LAAS sends is actually a complaint the Labour Party may be able to do something about. Within that 22%, some of them will already be under investigation.

 

Stolliday’s email continued with the statistical breakdown provided by Matthews, and ended by saying:

 

The 73 have been allocated to the appropriate investigating officer on Complaint

Centre. Those people who are not already under investigation will get a Notice of Investigation/suspension as appropriate in the next week or so and go into the process.hae been getting a Notice of Investigation/suspension as appropriate.[921]

 

Oldknow then forwarded this to McNicol, Murphy, Andrew Murray and Milne:

 

See below for stats which are just wrong.

 

No comment from us in story as the duty press officer didn’t have access to the correct email box.

 

If you want any more information, let me know.

 

Iain McNicol personally asked “Seumas can you get someone from the press team to go back and correct this story”, while Andrew Murray commented:

 

I think that LAAS risk discrediting the serious work that needs to be done in combatting anti-semitism in our movement through wild attacks on all and sundry[922]

 

Meanwhile, Stolliday also approved a Labour press line in response saying:

 

It is categorically wrong to suggest anti-Semitism is institutionalised within the Labour Party. The Labour Party takes all complaints of anti-Semitism extremely seriously and is committed to challenging it in all its forms. Any complaints of antiSemitism are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures and action taken.

 

Stolliday said “That’s fine for me (although the last sentence of the background may be a bit stating the obvious)”. As we have seen, far from being a statement of “the obvious”, this line was actually inaccurate, as most antisemitism cases received by GLU in the previous sixteen months had not been investigated at all.[923]

 

Press Officer Georgie Robertson, meanwhile, commented “What an absurd story.” On the basis of the information provided by GLU, Robertson drafted “On background” information:

 

More than half of the complaints sent into the Labour Party involve people who are not members of the Party. The Labour Party can only investigate and take action in regard to members. Our remit does not extend beyond our membership.

 

All complaints made by Labour Against Antisemitism have been looked into and those which relate to Party members, have or are being investigated. 

 

Iain McNicol remains the General Secretary until his successor is elected in a few weeks, and so continues to oversee compliance issues and other issues in the Party. Nothing has changed since the announcement last week. 

 

The compliance unit is made up of dedicated staff who’ve worked in the Party for many years, who fully investigate all complaints that are made to them.

 

Both Stolliday and Matthews signed-off this background information.[924]

 

On Monday 5 March, Matthews then emailed the Disputes team:

 

You may have seen some of the news articles over the weekend following outrageously inaccurate briefing from LAAS to the Independent. As a result, this needs to move up the priority list. I’m putting together a paper on how we are dealing with investigations like these for AOB at Disputes tomorrow. By midafternoon, could you let me know the following statistics: 

 

  • How many NoIs you have sent out from the LAAS complaints. MOST

IMPORTANT STAT

  • How many resignation responses you have had
  • How many substantive responses you have had
  • How many non-responses you have had

 

Sorry to spring this on you first thing on a Monday – if your stats don’t look quite as good as you would like them to, could you make sending out NoIs your sole priority this morning so that by 2pm(ish) we’ve made significant progress on this.[925]

 

Matthews added that “that you shouldn’t take anything I say as being accusatory” – “I know everyone has had a massive amount of work on” and “You are all absolutely excellent”.[926] It is not clear why Matthews said this, considering that, as far as we can tell, it was he who had failed to ensure the “Disputes” inbox was managed and had failed to respond to numerous antisemitism complaints forwarded to him for action by Withers-Green the previous year.

 

On 5 March 2018, Matthews then sent a “LAAS Complaints Reports” to Oldknow and Stolliday.

 

In relation to the inaccurate responses that certain members were not members of the party, Matthews noted that “Sophie [Goodyear] is off this week and I don’t know what checklist her team go through when searching for a member to try and identify them on the system when a complaint comes in prior to allocating it for an investigation”.[927] He acknowledged that LAAS had incorrectly received responses that Greg Hadfield, a well-known suspended member already referred to the NCC, and even Darren Williams, an elected member of the Labour NEC, were not members. He noted that:

 

Looking through the sent-box for complaints, there does appear to be a systematic issue with how attempts are being made to identify members which is highlighted by high-profile admin errors. I can see the stock “can’t identify membership” email has gone out in response to a complaint from LAAS about Darren Williams. I think what may be happening is that, where individuals have a common name and multiple search results have been returned on the system, they have got the standard “can’t identify the member, please feel free to send us anything further which may help identify them” response. 

 

I think a set process for searching for members when complaints are received, which involves multiple searches on a few parameters, would be useful in helping avoid the above where possible. There are some tips and tricks to member-centre which aren’t immediately obvious when trying to membership match. I’m happy to ask Dan or Lou, who have done a lot of trying to membership match, to put together a checklist/guide for Sophie’s new starters when they start next week if you think that would be helpful. I just don’t want to step on Sophie’s toes.

 

The lack of training and guidance for staff was evident. Having worked in Disputes since June 2016, Matthews and his team had never “put together a checklist/guide” for identifying members, and the new Complaints team staff were now committing a litany of basic errors, including failing to identify members of Labour’s NEC as members of the Labour Party.

 

Matthews’ attached report said:

 

In recent weeks, the organisation “Labour Against Antisemitism” (LAAS) has attracted some media attention in relation to their claims that the Party is not dealing with antisemitism through its disciplinary processes. The following report lays out the ongoing work by Officers to address this issue. 

 

There are currently XX (I need to ask Kimberley to give me this number as I don’t have complaint centre admin access) members under investigation for allegations relating to antisemitism. This figure does not include those who have already been referred to the NCC by the Disputes Panel. 

 

The Party has created the Complaints Team to receive, process and monitor the progress of all complaints sent to the Party. The Party has also expanded the Governance and Legal Unit so that it is equipped to conduct swift and robust investigations into alleged breaches of the Party’s rules. 

 

Every complaint the Labour Party receives is treated extremely seriously and a number of checks are performed upon its receipt. Firstly, the Complaints Team check that the person referred to in the complaint (the respondent) is a member of the Labour Party. The Labour Party cannot investigate or take any action against individuals who are not members of the Labour Party. The complaint is then allocated by the complaints team to the most appropriate body to investigate the complaint. 

 

LAAS’ claims vary from 700 to 6000 on how many complaints they have made to the Labour Party. Both of these figures are a gross exaggerations. The total number of complaints the Party has received from LAAS in a usable format is just under 350. Of those, some 20% are duplicates and a further 58% relate to individuals who are not current members of the Labour Party. Just over one in five (22%) of the complaints which LAAS make relate to a current member of the Labour Party.  Many of the complaints in that usable 22% relate to members who are already subject to disciplinary action.

 

Again, it is interesting to note that Matthews did not have “complaint centre admin access”, which would enable him to export complaints and filter and count them by category. Matthew’s explanation for the failures to identify members would also not explain how they had been unable to identify, for example, Greg Hadfield, the only person with that name on the Labour database.

 

Oldknow thanked Matthews and, regarding reporting to the NEC, said “I will talk to

Christine today about saying something under AOB.”[928]

 

She then forwarded Matthew’s email and report to Jackie Stacey from GSO and Goodyear from Complaints:

 

There is a problem when some members of the complaints team are identifying members or not. This has led to the compliance unit being described as ‘chaotic’ in the Independent. 

 

In my view, no one should be replying on AS issues unless they are Sophie as we need to be absolutely sure we have it right as it seems like in some cases below – we have not.

 

Please can you action?[929]

 

Stacey arranged to meet Matthews to try to resolve the issue. As discussed later, however, major issues with identification techniques persisted for some time.[930]

4.1.4.iii. Action on “LAAS” Cases – Assessment

 

LAAS’s claims were wildly inaccurate – the number of Labour members they had reported were about one hundred, rather than the hundreds or thousands they claimed. However, Matthews’ report also appears to have been inaccurate, and the Party does not recognise any of the figures he produced or understand how he produced them.

 

For example:

 

  • 34 “LAAS” antisemitism cases were created on Complaints Centre and assigned to IOs, less than half of the 73 that Matthews reported.
  • We are not aware of any “LAAS” reports being saved at the time and added to any existing investigations.
  • The majority of LAAS complaints do not in fact appear to have been investigated or even touched. The Party has found reports of dozens of clearly identifiable Labour members submitted by LAAS in the preceding year, that were not picked up in this “sifting”. Many of these were individual reports that had also been emailed to Matthews directly by LAAS, while Withers-Green had personally identified and sent to Matthews for investigation numerous members reported by LAAS. Contrary to Matthews’ reports, these cases were not included in this “sifting” and continued to face no action.

 

For example, on 24 January 2018 “LAAS” had reported Ayesha Mangera, an admin of a large, unofficial pro-Labour Facebook group. Evidence was provided of her sharing Rothschilds conspiracies and posts saying “Zionist lobbies” protected Nazis after the

Second World War, calling Jon Lansman a “pro-Israeli muppet” and writing that

“Zionist[s] have brought many people to heel, they are very powerful.”

 

This case was forwarded from “Legal Queries” to “Disputes”, and then ignored. There is no clear explanation as to why it was not picked up in this “sifting”. In autumn 2019 the case was uncovered in our historical audits, and Mangera was suspended pending referral to the NEC for expulsion.[931]

 

Similarly, in early January 2018 “LAAS” had submitted a report on John Wiltshire. His location and age was identified, and he was easily identifiable on Members Centre. The enclosed screenshots revealed an array of “Rothschild Zionist” conspiracies, including posts about “Zionists behind all wars since 1890”, “9/11, London, Paris and Brussels attacks, the Illuminati, Zionism, Rothschilds Usury Banking”, a “Holocaust” by “Zionist Israel”, Israel controlling the BBC and ISIS, and more.

 

On 9 January 2018, these reports were forwarded from “Legal Queries” to “Disputes”. However, no further action appears to have been taken, and this case was not included in this “LAAS” round-up. Since being discovered in our historical audits, Wiltshire has been suspended pending referral to the NEC for expulsion.[932]

 

Another individual “LAAS” reported in early January 2018 was Barry Jones. His name and CLP were included and he was easily identifiable on Members Centre. Screenshots showed repeated posts about “Rothschild Zionists”, the “pro-Zionist lobby”, the “Rothschilds mafia” running Israel, “Rothschilds and the occult agenda of

Zion”. Like Wiltshire, reports on Jones were forwarded from “Legal Queries” to “Disputes” and then no further action was taken. Since being discovered in our historical audits, Jones has likewise been suspended pending referral to the NEC for expulsion.[933]

 

Oneill Meredith, meanwhile, had been reported by “LAAS” in an individual report in December 2017. Evidence included Meredith:

 

  • attacking Joan Rivers – “Joan the jew… fucking slag”
  • sharing as “the facts” Ken O’Keefe on “Jewish Supremacist Satanic Pedo Banks”
  • writing that she has joined Labour
  • writing that “jews are torys money money money fuck everyone money” -writing some apparent Holocaust revisionism.

 

The complaint was forwarded from “Legal Queries” to “Disputes” and then no further action was taken. After being discovered in our historical audits, in September 2019 Meredith was suspended pending referral to the NEC for expulsion.[934]

 

Numerous other complaints about antisemitism, many of them submitted by Jewish Labour members, were also ignored – the “sifting” had focused on “LAAS” complaints alone. This included, for example, the complaints about Chris Crookes, Robert Cullen and Andrew Paul Thompson detailed previously, and a December 2017 complaint from Jack Lubner, a young Jewish Labour member, about antisemitic comments from six people he believed to be Labour members.

 

Lubner’s complaint had detailed Mohson Rasool referring to Jews as having “bentnoses” and calling Jews a “breed” of “manipulative liars”; Brian Sadler saying Zionism was becoming the “4th reich”; and Pete Moyes, already known to GLU but not acted on, saying “zioscum” Jews “cause 99% of wars on the planet”.

 

Lubner’s email was promptly forwarded from “Legal Queries” to “Disputes”, and no further action was taken until April 2018, when Lubner emailed to chase the complaint. Checking Rasool’s Facebook, Disputes officer Megan McCann found Rasool advocating genocide against Jews and supporting terrorism. GLU and GSO staff (then including Thomas Gardiner) agreed to both immediately suspend Rasool and report him to counter-terrorism police.[935] In February 2020, following a police investigation, the CPS issued charges against Rasool.[936]

 

The failure to address Lubner’s complaint for almost four months put Jewish members of the party at risk. As detailed elsewhere, it was Sam Matthews’ responsibility to ensure that emails in the “Disputes” inbox were addressed. The party is, as with much of what has been uncovered in this investigation, deeply troubled by this finding.

 

Pete Moyes, meanwhile, had been known to GLU since April 2017, and had been identified to Matthews in June 2017 for a litany of antisemitic comments about “zioshits”. However, in April 2018 new Complaints Officer Tim Dexter incorrectly identified Moyes as not being a member. Pete Moyes was an active member at the time, having joined in 2016, and there is only one “Pete Moyes” on the database. Moyes also had a case against his Members Centre record, for antisemitism, at the time. The error was, we suspect, due to the fact that there is, additionally, a “Peter Moyes” on the database who was not a member, and searching “Peter” would not return a result of “Pete”. (Withers-Green had, however, managed to identify Moyes previously.)997

 

As already partly highlighted, GLU staff made many basic failures in identifying members reported in this period, including in this “LAAS” round-up.

 

For example, in November 2017, “LAAS” reported Labour councillor Dipu Ahad for social media posts including “liking” comments about Rothschild conspiracies. On 28 February 2018, however, Complaints Officer Ellie Taylor responded that they were unable to identify Ahad as a member, despite him being a sitting Labour councillor.[937]

 

On 30 December 2017 “LAAS” had submitted a report on Paul Hinshelwood. This included a link to his Facebook profile (which included the term “National Socialist”), and showed him writing that “Zionist Ashkenazi Jews” invented the Nazis and control Western governments; that a “Zionist false Jew… wants to wipe out the white race”; and supporting Adolf Hitler, who had seen “the zionist false jews infilitrating governments across Europe”.

 

On 8 January 2018 this report was forwarded by “Legal Queries” to “Disputes”. However, on 26 February 2018 Ellie Taylor responded to the complainants that “we have been unable to identify the individual as a member of the Labour Party”, and will “not be able to progress your complaint”.

 

There was only one Paul Hinshelwood on Labour’s database, and a search of the Facebook profile identified shows him repeatedly talking about living in the same place as that member. (On 18 May 2018, after JLM member Stephane Savary raised the case with Buzzfeed News, and GLU was alerted to the case again, Hinshelwood was suspended. His membership subsequently lapsed while under suspension.)[938]

 

Although some of these errors were highlighted in the media and Matthews,

Goodyear, Stolliday and Oldknow were aware of them, no effort appears to have been made to then go back and rectify their own mistakes.

 

It is not clear from the available evidence how this “sifting” of “LAAS” complaints was done, why the majority of them were missed and remained ignored, and where Matthews’ numbers came from, particularly his claims of “around 250 complaints”, then “323 emails” – or “just under 350” complaints “in a usable format” – of which “187” were complaints about non-members.

 

A final sheet tracking the “LAAS” cases being logged, saved on 20 February 2018, recorded 107 complaints, 99 of which had “Outcomes” recorded. These pertained to 44 unique respondents, of which 22 had an “Outcome” of “can’t prove membership”, 17 “Passed to Disputes” and 1 “Already with disputes” (4 were blank). 34 cases were then logged in “Complaints Centre”, rather than the 73 Matthews claimed had been logged.

 

The Party believes that Matthews may have invented the numbers he reported.

 

As well as falsely reporting that GLU had now “sifted through all the “LAAS” complaints”,[939] Matthews gave the false impression that the issue with “LAAS” pertained to some complaints submitted recently, in the preceding few months. As we have seen, however, “LAAS” and other complaints had been mostly ignored throughout the preceding sixteen months.

 

Indeed, many of those GLU have now acted on had themselves been reported repeatedly over the previous year.

 

John Carey, for example, had been reported by “LAAS” already in May 2017. This was a large and quite sprawling document, but Carey was the first individual in it, and his location, CLP and even address were clearly identified. On 21 August 2017, WithersGreen forwarded this to Sam Matthews, enclosing Carey’s membership number and suggesting an “investigation”. Matthews did not reply and we have no record of any action being taken.

 

“LAAS” then submitted Carey again on 9 December 2017, as an individual report. Their emails were forwarded from “Legal Queries”, and on 11 December 2017 Euan Philipps also sent the report to Matthews directly.

 

These reports had shown Carey talking about the “Zionist Holohaux” and the “Zionist controlled media”, saying Jews were behind the Holocaust and “Rothschild Zionists” started the Second World War, not Hitler. It was not until 22 February 2018, as part of the “LAAS” sweep-up, that GLU acted against Carey, however, more than nine months after he was first reported to the party.[940]

 

Similarly, Graham Wilmot had been submitted by LAAS on 19 September 2017, in the document “Report 17 – new style”, with clear identifying information including links to his Facebook profile provided. The Labour database contains just one person named Graham Wilmot, so it would have been an easy match.

 

Posts from Wilmot included: warning that “Gentles will be the slaves of Jews”; Holocaust revisionism; claiming that “Jews are leading the legal fight against Brexit”, a post saying “Sixty-Six Million Christians Murdered By Jewish Bolsheviks”; saying Sadiq Khan is part of a “Zionist plot”; and saying that the “Rothschilds Zionist mafia” run America. He had also posted a range of Islamophobic and anti-immigrant content.

 

On 16 February 2018 “LAAS” submitted Wilmot again as an individual report, and the same day, as part of the “LAAS” round-up, it was logged and sent to Dan Hogan. Two weeks later, on 5 March 2018, Hogan acted.[941]

 

This was one of a number of “LAAS” cases GLU did now act on. On 21 February 2018 five individual members were sent NOIs concerning antisemitism, and on 22 February another six. In total, between Wednesday 21 February 2018 and Monday 5 March 2018 – just under two weeks – GLU issued 26 NOIs for antisemitism (and one suspension for Ken Livingstone).

 

This contrasts with 26 NOIs for antisemitism (and 9 suspensions) issued in the whole of 2017 – a twenty five to thirty fold increase in the rate of action on antisemitism.

 

It also contrasts with 72 NOIs and 55 suspensions across all categories, issued in 2017. In just 13 days, GLU did the equivalent of 80 days of work at its 2017 rate of progress, a more than sixfold increase in the overall rate of action on all complaints.  

 

At this time, Matthews’ Disputes team had the same number of employees as it had had throughout 2017 – himself and three Disputes Officers – Hogan, Westerman and now McCann (Withers-Green now working on NCC bundles).

 

This illustrates that the failure to deal with antisemitism and other complaints by GLU in 2017 was not due to the team being under-staffed or over-worked. It was due to GLU having a different set of organisational priorities, the most notable of which was factional work.

 

Moreover, Wilmot, Carey and indeed all the “LAAS” cases were only issued NOIs – not suspensions. Stolliday had reported to Oldknow and LOTO press, and Oldknow had then forwarded to McNicol and senior LOTO management Murphy, Murray and Milne, that all these cases would receive, and then had received

 

a Notice of Investigation/suspension as appropriate.[942]

 

Iain McNicol sent this same information directly to Jeremy Corbyn.[943]

 

This was not accurate. As Matthews’ email to Disputes on 5 March appears to confirm, Matthews instructed all Disputes staff to issue NOIs. We have no evidence that suspensions were even considered or discussed for any of these cases.[944]

 

Of these 26 “LAAS” cases, at least 22 should definitely have merited immediate suspension in expectation of later expulsion from the party. We have summarised a selection of the evidence against each of these 22 individuals below:

 

Mark Golding – 21 Feb 2018 – NOI –  “I am a holocaust denier”. “Israel is a shameful little prostitute of The Big American Bank Robbery”. “Zionist owned western media”.
Nigel Sidebottom – 21 Feb 2018 NOI – “rothschild zionists bankers own the governments

with their infiltrations, it’s all by rothschild multinational banks”. “Put there by

#israellobby to further aims of #zionism and #jews while deliberately promoting

#Antisemitism to shut down #DissentIsPatriotic”. “Israeli zionists are worse than Hitler”.

 

Jean Porter – 21 Feb 2018 – NOI – “the goyim are in danger”. “Zionist controlled UK media”. “Zionists collaborated with the Nazis”.
John Carey – 22 Feb 2018 – NOI – “Labour is being run by Rothschid [Sic] Zionists”. “people make the mistake of thinking the banking cartels had any consideration for sacrifice of their own people to fulfil an agenda and it’s given the Jews a free pass for the last 70 years as a result”.
Ian Lowery – 22 Feb 2018 – NOI – “methinks you will find that the zionist controlled UK parliament are not sitting on the fence, just on their hands”. “Nick Clegg guarantees funds for lessons on the Holocaust can we have some funds to educate people about the Nakba?”
Carolyn Marsden – 22 Feb 2018 – NOI – “Israel is the cause of all the dirt in the media about jc”, “Obviously there is bigger evil people behind the Rothchilds front they are marly [sic] puppets”.
Saeed Ahmed – 22 Feb 2018 – NOI – “all one needs to know, if one wants the truth”, whilst sharing “David Irving – On Holocaust”, “People out there in this big bad world accepting of Zionist ideology cancer that spreads its ‘wealth’ by buying people and governments forcing historical monuments erected for the so called ‘6 million’. Shares an article called “The HolocaustTM and the Phony Six Million”, writing “For those that cling on to their false truth… read, educate & share the heck out of this as it breaks down one of those false foundations of pillars built by liars”.
Keirin Offlands – 22 Feb 2018 – NOI – Shares post with phrase “#ZioNazi storm-troopers”.
Saeed Ahmed (Different individual from above) – 1 Mar 2018 – NOI – Involved in organisation that shared antisemitic image of a Jewish man rubbing his hands together as the world burns with the caption “Zionism Cancer of the Earth”. Compared Israel to Hitler.
Mehdi Husaini – 1 Mar 2018 – NOI – Involved in organisation that shared antisemitic image of a Jewish man rubbing his hands togehter as the world burns with the caption “Zionism Cancer of the Earth”. Shared antisemitic documentary.
Sheila Scoular – 5 Mar 2018 – NOI – “Media does what Israel tells them to”. Shared David Icke meme suggesting David Cameron does everything Netanyahu says. “Israelis learned teir evil ways from experts in the Nazi establishment”.
Thomas Keith Ferguson – 5 Mar 2018 – NOI – “Real Jews burn the flag of zionist israel”,

Shares video “Aaron Russo exposes The Zionist New World Order”, Shared link “Shadowy

Israeli App Turns Jewish Americans into Foot soldiers in …”, “Compares Hitler to

Netanyahu”, Shares “Hungary Orders the Rothschild banks to leave the country”,

Ilona Csatlos-Graudins – 5 Mar 2018 – NOI – Shares video titled “Zionist – How to kill Goyim children and…”. Shares video titled “Rabbi Dovid Weiss explain Zion or Fake Jew in Depth”. Shares link titled “Illuminati ritual & Occult worship on display at a rothschild f…” Shares link “Rothschild and the illuminati”, Shares image of numerous Jews in a meme with the caption “know your enemy these men rule the world”.
David Roger – 5 Mar 2018 – NOI – Compares Israel to Nazi Germany,
Mark Conway – 5 Mar 2018 – NOI – “speaking for myself i despise Jews i think they are vermin and the scum of the earth but only those Evil Jews who think its acceptabble to steal palestinian land and persecute them and so to those jews i would say fuck you you
murdering nazi bastards”, “Exactly why isn’t ROT.hschild! [sic] in Jail where IT! Belongs???????!!!”
Gordon Wilson – 5 Mar 2018 – NOI – “Both presidents died trying to defy the Rothschilds.

Yes, both Lincoln and John F Kennedy were assassinated by command of the BANKSTERS Rothschilds”. “Sadly all we have today is a bunch of worthless politicians controlled like puppets by Jewish lobbyist and Rothschilds working for their personal benefits $$$$.”

Abdul Al Ayoby – 5 Mar 2018 – NOI – Shared post about Mossad being behind ISIS. Shared post of a documentary called “The Zionist Matrix of Power”, which says “Zionists are ruling the world directly and indirectly (proxy)”. The documentary was produced by David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the KKK. Shared a post about Chuka Umunna saying “He was a blairite, who wants to serve his Zionist masters and still is!!”
Abdul Monsur – 5 Mar 2018 – NOI – “Zionist Extremist MP Luciana Berger who hates civilised people about get [sic] a good kicking!!”. Shared a Holocaust denial post reading “Do you still think six million Jews died? think for yourself”. “Rothschild protects the Zionist Evil Propaganda!!”. Shared video “Zionist Jew Agenda Exposed – Shocking”. “It is not he normal peace loving Jewish people who controls usa, but the zionists”
Graham Wilmot – 5 Mar 2018 – NOI – Shared clearly antisemitic article “Jews are leading the legal fight against brexit”. Shared video “Gentiles will be the slaves of Jews”, writing “This is coming like it or not”. Shared post “Rothschilds zionist mafia is repeating the same british financial and war domination and greed. #1 Rothschilds jewish mafia uses american tax money against americans…”
Frederick Tyler – 5 Mar 2018 – NOI – Shared blog on “Jewish human organ trade in turkey stealing syrian children.”. Shared post with image of Aushwitz with the gate sign reading

“Muh Holocaust”. and title “International Red Cross Report Confirms the Holocaust of Six Million Jews is a Hoax”. Shared Britain First post about halal meat. Supported article about Abbas’ book on “The Nazi-Zionist” plot of the Holocaust.

Dammi Holbourne – 5 Mar 2018 – NOI – “Why are the jews allowed to kill palestinians as if its a game?”. “At least one politician is not being a sheep like the ones who religiously follow the greedy colleagues simply to impress the rich jewish diaspora”. “Undoubtedly this is a rothschild fed mandate once again aiming at bringing down Jeremy led Labour Party establishment”.
Thomas Edwardson – 21 Feb 2018 – NOI – Posts saying: Jews did 9/11, Rothschilds were behind WW2, Israelis control America.

 

These were some of the most horrendous, gross and explicit cases of antisemitism that the party has seen throughout the past five years, with comments and posts including overt hatred of and hostility towards Jews, repeated and explicit Holocaust denial, and claims that “Goyim” were “in danger” from Jews.

 

As discussed in Sections 3.1.4.i and 4.4.3, in June 2016 both Shami Chakrabarti and Jeremy Corbyn had offered detailed guidance on a range of conduct that should be considered antisemitic and had no place in the Labour Party, and Chakrabarti had explicitly advised that the “gravity” of the conduct being reported should be considered when deciding whether to issue an administrative suspension.

 

However, not a single one of these individuals was suspended, and all simply received NOIs.

 

Finally, GLU then immediately mishandled a number of these cases. For example, Nigel Sidebottom had been sent an NOI for numerous antisemitic posts and retweets, including writing about “Zionist… control” as the cause of antisemitism, making repeated Israel-Nazi comparisons, and retweeting tweets about “Zionist LFI banksters” and “rothschild zionist bankers own the governments with their infiltrations”.

 

However, Sidebottom immediately responded confirming he ran the social media accounts, but insisting “it is NOT the Jews I dislike, it is the Israeli Govt” – “If there is any instance of me posting ANTHING against a Jew based on their religion, I would be shocked and happily delete that!”

 

No further investigation was conducted, and, instead, on 23 February 2018 Megan McCann lifted his suspension with a staff-issued “warning”. Sidebottom’s explanation was apparently accepted, even though he had not, for example, offered any explanation for his comparisons of Israel with Nazi Germany or his retweets on “Rothschild Zionist banksters”.

 

In May 2018 a new case was opened against Sidebottom after public reports about offensive comments on a separate matter, and in August 2018 he was sent a further NOI on evidence relating to antisemitism, leading to his resignation from the party. A search of his social media accounts at any point would have revealed a litany of further evidence of gross antisemitism.[945]

 

Saeed Ahmed, meanwhile, had been reported by “LAAS” on 1 January 2018, with evidence of antisemitism including Holocaust denial. On 21-22 February the case was logged and an NOI was issued by McCann, followed by a chaser email on 7 March 2018. In late March 2018, McCann then processed another complaint concerning a

Twitter account that she suspected belonged to Ahmed. Ultimately unable to verify if

Ahmed ran that account, on 11 April 2018 McCann then closed Ahmed’s case on “Complaints Centre”, clearly having confused these two ongoing issues, ending both investigations. (In June 2019, following a separate complaint of antisemitism, Ahmed was suspended.)[946]

 

Again, these decisions reflected a lack of staff training and guidance on how to handle cases of antisemitism, as well as a lack of rigorous systems and processes to help to avoid errors.

 

Finally, it is not clear why Matthews continually referred to “LAAS” as consisting of two, and then three people. Six or seven “LAAS” people would typically submit complaints, usually together in a coordinated fashion (each submitting the same complaint).[947]

His reports appear to reflect a lack of familiarity with the complaints being submitted.

 

4.1.5. Conclusions

 

By early 2018, GLU and GSO were coming under increasing scrutiny from a range of stakeholders, including LOTO, the PLP and the media, regarding their handling of disciplinary cases. The rise in sexual harassment complaints from October 2017 onwards increased scrutiny on the team, and led to Oldknow proposing and arranging significantly increased staffing. Following pressure from LOTO and others, Oldknow also requested plans of action for progressing the backlogs of disciplinary cases, at each stage of the process, from various staff in GLU.

 

However, most antisemitism complaints in this period continued to be ignored, and the “Disputes” inbox, to which other staff in GLU were forwarding them, was still being left untended.

 

It was only in mid-February 2018 and early March 2018, in response to pressure from LOTO and the NEC, and “LAAS” raising concerns with a Labour MP and the media that their complaints were not being addressed, that GLU finally acted on some of their antisemitism complaints. However, they only acted on “LAAS” complaints, and only on a minority of them. Most antisemitism complaints remained ignored. Furthermore, staff issued NOIs only, for a range of grotesque and extreme cases of antisemitism – none of the members were suspended. They also failed to identify many of the reported people as Labour members, and then failed to rectify those basic errors.

 

Matthews then misinformed Stolliday and Oldknow, and they in turn Iain McNicol and LOTO (Murphy, Murray, Milne and Jeremy Corbyn himself), about the action GLU had taken. LOTO was informed that:

 

  • All LAAS complaints had now been dealt with – more than 300 of them.
  • The vast majority of their complaints were not about members of the party – only 22%, 73, were complaints the party could actually “do something with”.
  • All those 73 cases were now receiving an NOI or suspension as appropriate.
  • All complaints of antisemitism were being dealt with promptly and appropriately.

 

None of this information was accurate.

 

Just weeks later, however, GLU’s approach to antisemitism disciplinary cases, and its relationship with LOTO, underwent a radical change, that finally led to some real action on antisemitism.

 

4.2. “Palestine Live” and the case of Glyn Secker

 

4.2. “Palestine Live” and the case of Glyn Secker 427
4.2.1. Summary428
4.2.2. The case of Glyn Secker430
4.2.3. “Palestine Live” – other cases compared448
4.2.3.i. Elleanne Green448
4.2.3.ii. David Birkett and Ron Brand450
4.2.3.iii. Christine Martin452
4.2.4. The PSC Report454
4.2.5. Conclusions455

 

             

4.2.1. Summary

 

On Friday 23 February 2018, Iain McNicol resigned as general secretary, which took almost immediate effect.[948] A number of candidates put themselves forward to replace McNicol and on 20 March 2018, the NEC elected Jennie Formby, a Unite representative on the NEC, as Labour’s new general secretary, who would start in the role on 3 April 2018.[949]