Exclusive: Labour man who ruled on Ken Livingstone panel was 'obsessed with Palestine'

Russell Cartwright is also a member of the activist group the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy, which has close links with the hard-left Momentum organisation



A member of Labour’s disciplinary body who argued against expelling Ken Livingstone over his comments about Hitler and Zionism has written a series of pro-Palestinian articles, the JC can reveal.

Russell Cartwright, who was one of the panel of three Labour national constitutional committee representatives who decided the fate of Mr Livingstone, is also a member of the activist group the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy which has close links with the hard-left Momentum organisation.

Labour MP John Mann was among those to raise concerns about Mr Cartwright's position on the NCC panel.

Mr Mann, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism, wrote on Twitter on Wednesday: "Did Russell Cartwright, editor of a 2014! section on Palestine, sit on the 3 person Livingstone panel or have I the wrong person?”

Another source told the JC: "Russell Cartwright seems to have been quite obsessed with the issue of Palestine at the time he was involved with the website!

“It is clear he has very strong pro-Palestinian sympathies. One would think you would have to declare any interest before ruling on an issue such as Mr Livingstone’s claims about Zionism and Hitler.”

Mr Cartwright’s articles include some promoting a boycott of Israel – and another suggesting Israel was discriminating against African immigrants.

The JC has learned that Mr Cartwright repeatedly claimed that the hearing itself “brought Labour into disrepute".

He received some support for his views from Brenda Warrington, the Unite representative who was also on the NCC panel.

The final NCC member Rose Burley was said to have been the “sole voice” calling for Mr Livingstone to be expelled.

But Mr Cartwright’s previous interest in writing on the issue of Israel and the Palestinians could now raise calls from some in the party to launch a review of the decision reached by the NCC.

Even though Mr Livingstone was found guilty of three charges of bringing the party into disrepute there was widespread shock that the NCC then only decided to extend his suspension for one more year.

Yesterday several senior Labour figures also told the JC they would be looking further into the appointment of Mr Cartwright to the panel.

As treasurer of the hard-left CFLPD group he works closely with the group’s secretary Pete Willsman.

Moderate Labour figures had raised concerns that Mr Willsman was seeking to get a hard-left person sympathetic to Mr Livingstone’s plight onto the panel in the weeks leading up to the hearing.

Several Labour members were said to have refused to be on the panel over fears Mr Livingstone may have raised concerns about their own suitability to appear if he decided to seek a judicial review.

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