Labour refuses to give leadership candidates its response to EHRC antisemitism probe

JC understands General Secretary refused a request for it to be viewed after advice from lawyers


Labour general secretary Jennie Formby has refused to make the party’s submission to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) available to candidates fighting to replace Jeremy Corbyn as leader.

The JC understands that, at a meeting on Wednesday, Wigan MP Lisa Nandy asked for the material - submitted as part of the equality watchdog's probe into whether the party is institutionally antisemitic - to be shared with the four candidates.

But Ms Formby said she had been told to refuse this request after seeking advice from Labour’s external counsel.

She also insisted that former deputy leader Tom Watson and other members of Labour’s shadow cabinet had been offered an opportunity to view the submission last year.

One party source told the JC: "It seems astonishing the general secretary is refusing to share the EHRC submission from the party.

“One of the first major jobs Jeremy Corbyn’s replacement will have to do is implement the findings of the EHRC.

“To keep the leadership contenders in the dark over the party’s position is a joke, really.”

Other leadership contenders at the meeting included Rebecca Long-Bailey, and deputy leadership candidates Richard Burgon and Ian Murray. But Keir Starmer was not present for the briefing, which included a run-down of the latest statistics on antisemitism expulsions and suspensions.

During the meeting Ms Formby, suggested the Labour leadership were now taking a tougher stance on antisemitism cases. Labour announced on Tuesday it had expelled 45 members over antisemitism in 2019.

But it is understood that some candidates expressed anger that the party was still receiving huge numbers of complaints over antisemitism involving members. And that hundreds of cases remain unresolved.

On Wednesday, sources close to former deputy leader Mr Watson told the JC that, when he viewed the material last year, he had only been given 30 minutes to do so in a room with Mr Corbyn and Gordon Nardell QC, the party’s then-complaints advisor, with strict instructions not to take any documents away.

A Labour source said: "The party agreed with the EHRC that all correspondence would be confidential and we will of course not be breaching this commitment.

"We have also been advised by independent lawyers, who specialise in human rights and equalities law, that the Party must not breach confidentiality by sharing correspondence.

"In any case, the responses to the EHRC largely consist of information on individual cases, which could not be published due to data protection legislation.”

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