Activists suspended over antisemitism allegations lose court challenge against Labour

The eight claimed they had been unfairly expelled or suspended by the party


DURHAM, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 23: Sir Keir Starmer, Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union addresses the audience during the Labour Party Leadership hustings at the Radisson Blu Hotel on February 23, 2020 in Durham, England. Sir Keir Starmer, Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy are vying to replace Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who offered to step down following his party's loss in the December 2019 general election. The final ballot will open to party members and registered and affiliated supporters on February 24. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

Eight activists suspended or expelled from Labour over allegations of antisemitism have lost a court challenge against the party’s disciplinary process.

The eight members of Labour Activists for Justice took their battle to the High Court claiming the party’s disciplinary process was procedurally unfair.

But in a court ruling today, Mr Justice Butcher dismissed all claims and found Labour had treated the claimants fairly.

A Labour spokesman said: “We welcome this important ruling that confirms our right to determine how we handle complaints.   

“We are getting on with the job of reforming our processes, structures and culture for the benefit of all our members and to ensure Jewish people feel safe and welcome in our party.”

The challenge was bought in the wake of the EHRC investigation into Labour’s handling of antisemitism complaints.

The EHRC concluded last October that Labour’s disciplinary process was “inconsistent, poor and lacking in transparency” and the party had breached equality law in three areas.

It found political interference in the process had “fundamentally undermined public confidence in the complaints process” and called for an independent procedure to be set up.

The claimants argued Labour should have stopped investigations and revoked suspensions or expulsions until the new system was established.

Lawyers for the claimants – Diana Neslen, Michael Howard, Jonathan Rosenhead, Chris Wallis, John Davies, Colin O’Driscoll, Alma Yaniv and Sameh Habeeb –  argued party’s investigation and adjudication of complaints of antisemitism was in breach of the principles of natural justice and procedural fairness.

Two of the claimants, Diana Neslen, who was given a formal warning; and Colin O’Driscoll, who has been expelled from the party, also argued Labour acted unfairly by handling their cases under an unpublished Code of Conduct.

 It is believed Labour will seek to recover the costs of the case.

Mr Justice Butcher concluded: “There was no evidence of any specific arguments which Ms Neslen or Mr O’Driscoll would have raised in their defence had they been provided with the 2018 Code which they did not in fact make.”

Mr Justice Butcher also concluded the EHRC had not indicated disciplinary cases should be suspended until a new process was put in place.

In his 44-page ruling, he said: “I do not consider that it is correct to say the EHRC found that the Party’s disciplinary processes, as recently improved, were fundamentally unfair. 

“While it was certainly the case that the EHRC considered there were still matters which could be further improve, and that the commissioning of an independent process was necessary to rebuild trust and confidence, this did not amount to a finding or indication that the present system could no longer be used.”


Mr Justice Butcher added: “It is no part of this case, or this judgment, to determine whether any of the allegations of antisemitism made against the claimants are or are not well-founded.”

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