Labour facing 25 new legal claims

EXCLUSIVE Jewish members and party staffers involved in the legal action after their private messages were passed to the Forde Inquiry


Labour faces being plunged into further financial peril after 25 individuals - including Jewish members and party staffers –  were set to begin legal action after their private messages were passed to the inquiry looking into the leaking of a controversial report into antisemitism.

The libel lawyer Mark Lewis confirmed to the JC on Friday that the handover of their private messages to the inquiry being chaired by the QC Martin Forde was being investigated as a further legal claim over a possible breach of data protection laws.

Mr Lewis said he alone had been instructed by 25 individuals, including some who were not Labour Party members, and that other legal firms may have taken on cases themselves.

One former Labour staff member, who is among those pursuing claims, told the JC they believed the party had “no right to hold onto our personal messages” and “no right to hand them over to Mr Forde unredacted, and without our consent”.

The source also accused individuals previously supportive of former leader Jeremy Corbyn of being the driving force behind the handover of data to the Forde Inquiry “for political reasons”.

On Thursday, Labour general secretary David Evans confirmed the party was to indefinitely delay publication of the Forde inquiry into the leaking of a report defending Mr Corbyn’s record over handling antisemitism complaints.

An unredacted version of the report was leaked onto social media last April – including the names and details of complaints made by Jewish members and non-members of the party about individual cases of alleged anti-Jewish racism.

Labour is already facing legal proceedings brought  by numerous staff members named in the report, with the first stage of the court hearings set to begin in two weeks.

The leaked report, which was criticised for using only selected excerpts of emails, had attempted to shift the blame for the party’s antisemitism crisis onto Mr Corbyn’s critics within Labour, including senior staff members.

It also included hundreds of private WhatsApp messages from named staff members,  who mocked the former Labour leader and some of his close allies.

After the report was widely circulated on social media, former Labour general secretary Jennie Formby reported the leak to the Information Commissioner’s Office to look into potential security breaches. 

After replacing Mr Corbyn, Sir Keir Starmer then ordered the independent Forde Inquiry.

The JC understands that the Information Commission’s Office (ICO) is investigating the leak of the private WhatsApp messages last April.

But a separate complaint to the ICO regarding to passing of messages to the Forde Inquiry is also likely to be made.

On Thursday, a letter was read out at Thursday’s Labour National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting from Mr Forde which confirmed his report could only be published after the ICO had concluded its investigations.

Legal sources suggest this could also  include looking at whether criminal acts were committed.

Mr Forde’s letter stated: “We have recently been made aware, however, that as a result of those potential breaches, the ICO has indicated it is making inquiries, pursuant to its statutory duties.

“Having regard to the possible direction and outcome of those inquiries, we are therefore concerned that the publication of our report could prejudice those inquiries and our ability ultimately to deliver our final report to the NEC.”

He added: “We consider there is a real risk that even partial disclosure of our report and findings could have the potential to prejudice the ICO’s work. As soon as its inquiries are completed, and resolved, we will provide a report.”

Labour has denied passing unredacted messages onto the inquiry.


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