Labour lawyers block sending internal antisemitism report to human rights watchdog

They told General Secretary Jennie Formby the 860-page dossier would damage its wider defence against the charge of being institutionally antisemitic


Lawyers acting for Labour have reportedly advised it not to submit an 860-page report that criticises those who blew the whistle on the party's antisemitism crisis to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

One former Labour special adviser described it as a report written by Corbynites who then deliberately leaked it, “blaming their antisemitism on other people plotting against ‘Jeremy’, which is itself an antisemitic trope, and now they’re bleating that Starmer won’t send their forgery to the EHRC.”

The report, seen by Sky News, argued there was “no evidence” that complaints of antisemitism by party members were treated differently to other complaints and concluded some staff members' factional hostility towards Jeremy Corbyn contributed to a “litany of mistakes” that hindered the handling of the issue.

Though the report directly addresses the EHRC, which is investigating claims the party is institutionally antisemitic, Sky News reported that lawyers urged it be withheld for fear of underming the party's wider defence.

One source told the JC that despite the report being the Corbynites' attempt to blame everyone else for antisemitism, it actually confirms the existence of institutional antisemitism within the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn.

The report is also said to lambast some of the whistleblowers who appeared on the Panorama expose of Labour antisemitism last year. The party ended up being the subject of legal action after it dismissed them as having "both personal and political axes to grind".

News of the report triggered anger among those who have highlighted the party's antisemitism problem.

Adam Langleben, a former Barnet councillor and senior member of Jewish Labour Movement, said that the report itself appeared to an example of the "factional rubbish" it was trying to condemn.

Mr Langleben said no one had denied "that factional rubbish in the Labour Party played a role in allowing the spread of antisemitism to occur. It created fertile ground. It gave people permission to dismiss it as just politics. Which seems to be exactly what is happening here.

"But ultimately when you are in charge, you take responsibility for what happens on your watch. It's quite clear that for those people in charge, the easy escape was to blame the issues on factionalism rather than accept the evidence right in front of them."

The report was completed in the last month of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, and is said to have been drawn from 10,000 emails and private WhatsApp messages between Labour staff.

At times the report directly addresses the EHRC, urging the watchdog to “question the validity of the personal testimonies” of former members of staff, and to “focus instead on the documentary, primary-source evidence that the Party has made available”.

The report acknowledged that there had been complaints of "very extreme forms of antisemitism" that "warranted action", and that between November 2016 and February 2018 only 34 out of 300 had had investigations initiated, but blamed the backlog on Sam Matthews, who was head of complaints and later was among the whistleblowers to Panorama.

Examples of what the report called the “hyper-factional atmosphere prevailing in Party HQ” included alleged conversations between senior staff in the office of Ms Formby's predecessor Lord McNicol that referred to Mr Corbyn’s former chief of staff Karie Murphy as a “b*tch face cow” who would “make a good dartboard”.

One person was alleged to have expressed the “hope” that a pro-Corbyn activist who had mental health problems “dies in a fire”.

It also details an alleged discussion on how they might stop Rebecca Long-Bailey, who was then a pro-Corbyn shadow minister, gaining a seat on the party’s governing body in 2017.

There was also alleged to be a discussion about unsuspending a former Labour MP critical of Mr Corbyn so they could stand in the 2017 general election.

Campaign Against Antisemitism’s chief executive Gideon Falter said the internal report was written in the “dying days” of Mr Corbyn’s leadership, as a “last-ditch attempt to deflect and discredit allegations of antisemitism.

“Rather than properly dealing with cases of antisemitism and the culture of anti-Jewish racism that prevailed during Mr Corbyn’s tenure, the Party has instead busied itself trawling through 10,000 of its own officials’ emails and WhatsApp messages in an attempt to imagine a vast anti-Corbyn conspiracy and to continue its effort to smear whistleblowers.”

He called on the party’s new leader Sir Keir Starmer to provide the report to the EHRC.

A Labour spokesperson disputed that the dossier had ever been intended to be submitted to the EHRC.

“The Party has submitted extensive information to the EHRC and responded to questions and requests for further information, none of which included this document,” they said.

A source told the JC the report was intended to be a draft internal document to be used to enhance the party’s understanding of the situation and inform its response to the EHRC.

Lord McNicol told Sky News: “The energy and effort that must have been invested in trawling 10,000 emails rather than challenging antisemitism in the party is deeply troubling.

“This a petty attempt to divert attention away from the real issue. It is telling that the Party's own lawyers appear to have ruled that this information was unsuitable for submission to the EHRC's ongoing investigation."

In a statement, Mr Matthews said: “This latest episode comes as no surprise to me, as an effort by a disgruntled faction who are floundering in their attempts to blame others in order to distract from matters that will be investigated by the EHRC and the Courts.”

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive