Labour suspends some members after leaking of internal antisemitism report

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Labour suspends some members after leaking of internal antisemitism report

Labour is now facing legal action from one of its members over claims party staff 'sought the victory of rival parties' in key constituencies in the 2017 general election

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (Photo credit: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire)
Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (Photo credit: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire)

The Labour Party has suspended some of its members following the leaking of an internal report into allegations of antisemitism in the party, the High Court has heard.

The 860-page report, which found “no evidence” of antisemitism being handled differently from other complaints and that “factional opposition” towards Jeremy Corbyn hindered efforts to tackle the crisis, was leaked in April.

Labour is now facing legal action from one of its members over claims party staff “sought the victory of rival parties” in key constituencies in the 2017 general election.

Mark Howell, 67, says the leaked report shows Labour staff breached party rules by “promoting the election of rivals of party candidates”.

Mr Howell, a member of Vauxhall CLP who joined the Labour Party in 1969, claims that the party therefore “breached its contract with the claimant (Mr Howell) and its non-contractual pact with the voting public of the UK”.

At a remote hearing on Friday, Mr Howell, who represented himself, told the court: “At stake is the democratic pact underlying the country’s political integrity and civil society.

“On the evidence, arguably a different government should have been in position ever since June 2017, the 2019 general election should not have occurred and the enactment of the result of the EU referendum should have been done in a different manner.”

Labour’s barrister Rachel Crasnow QC told Mrs Justice Eady that there are “three ongoing investigations into matters concerning the leaked report”.

She said that “some of the party members have been suspended from membership so far as it is necessary to do so to protect the integrity of the investigation”.

Ms Crasnow said the party has “commissioned an independent and impartial inquiry led by Martin Forde QC into the matters of which the claimant complains” and that “many of the events that are the subject of the claimant’s claim occurred over three years ago”.

Ms Crasnow added: “There is no evidence (and it is not suggested by the claimant) that they are likely to reoccur imminently or at all.”

She also said that there were inquiries being conducted by the Information Commissioner’s Office and the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Mr Howell has brought the legal action against incoming Labour general secretary David Evans, on behalf of the Labour Party, and former general secretary Iain McNicol.

He initially asked the court to grant an interim injunction forcing Labour to suspend members who were said to be implicated by the leaked report, but dropped his application shortly after the start of the hearing.

Ms Crasnow asked the court to throw out the claim against Lord McNicol, pointing out that he stood down as general secretary in March 2018 and had been “wrongly identified” as a defendant.

But Mrs Justice Eady refused to strike out the claim against him, instead ordering Mr Howell “to provide further information specifically explaining the cause of action” he wished to bring against Lord McNicol.

The judge also ordered Mr Howell to pay around £20,000 of the party’s costs for the hearing.

At the conclusion of the hearing, Ms Crasnow said Labour will apply to strike out Mr Howell’s claim, with a hearing likely to take place later this year.

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