Labour seeking to settle in ‘£20 million’ antisemitism legal battle

Independent mediator called to find way of ending the ongoing litigation with whistleblowers who exposed Jew hate in the party


GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 22: Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn meets with asylum seeker brothers Somer Umeed and Areeb Umeed at Possilpark Parish Church on August 22, 2018 in Glasgow, Scotland. Jeremy Corbyn met with asylum seeker families in Glasgow threatened with eviction by Serco and called for such services to be delivered by public bodies. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Labour is hoping to settle a series of legal battles with whistleblowers who exposed antisemitism within the party, the JC can reveal.

An independent mediator has been called to try to find a way of ending the ongoing litigation.

The case could cost Labour, which reported a £5 million deficit in its last accounts, as much as £20 million in costs and payouts were it to lose, legal experts have claimed.

Mediation sessions with two separate groups of claimants are due to take place over the next few weeks in the hope of thrashing out a settlement.

The party is hoping to avoid fighting the politically damaging court cases, which would remind voters of the controversy over antisemitism that dogged Labour when Jeremy Corbyn was its leader.

If settlements cannot be reached, full hearings will take place next year, in the run-up to the next general election.

The cases all involve individuals whose personal details were leaked in a report intended for the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) which was investigating the Party, in 2020.

The 850-page report, which was never submitted to the watchdog, was leaked shortly after Sir Keir Starmer replaced Corbyn as leader in April 2020.

Nine of the whistleblowers taking the action, who were all members of Labour Against Antisemitism, claim the party breached their data protection rights and left them open to vicious online attacks including chilling “calls to action” from neo-Nazi groups.

A second group of 21 claimants, represented by solicitor Mark Lewis, are suing the party for breaching their data protection rights and for defamation.

In February, before the mediation offer, their lawyers had accused Labour of trying to “weaponise costs” to a level where the whistleblowers would be financially ruined if they lost the case – encouraging them to withdraw action.

However, it is understood, the party is now hoping for an out-of-court settlement.

A separate lawsuit against five former Labour staffers including ex-Guardian journalist Seumas Milne — who, the case claims, were responsible for leaking the report — is continuing. The five deny the claims.

A party spokeswoman declined to comment on the mediation with the whistleblowers.

In relation to its former staffers, the spokeswoman added: “The Party has conducted a wide-ranging and appropriately thorough investigation following the leak and is confident of the case it has presented to the court.”

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