Corbyn says Labour’s choice to pay damages to ex-staffers was ‘a political decision, not a legal one’

The Canary

Labour will pay “substantial damages” to former employees who contributed to a TV programme on its handling of antisemitism. The party also issued an apology over what it said were “defamatory and false allegations” made following a BBC Panorama investigation.

Jeremy Corbyn said it was “disappointing” that the party had settled the claim, adding that it was a “political decision, not a legal one”.

Seven former employees from the party’s governance and legal unit, who were responsible for the investigation of allegations of misconduct by party members, sued Labour after it issued a press release describing them as having “personal and political axes to grind”.

The legal action followed the broadcast in July 2019 of a BBC Panorama programme titled “Is Labour Anti-Semitic?”.

At a brief hearing in London on 22 July, the former employees’ barrister William Bennett QC said: “The whistleblowers were highly critical of the Labour Party’s approach to tackling antisemitism within its ranks.”

He told Justice Nicklin: “Before the broadcast of the Panorama programme, the Labour Party issued a press release that contained defamatory and false allegations about the whistleblowers.”

Labour leadership contest
Keir Starmer and Jeremy Corbyn (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Bennett said Labour “accused the whistleblowers of having acted in bad faith during and after their employment with the intention of harming the Labour Party” – allegations he said were “untrue and defamatory”.

At the same hearing, Labour also apologised to John Ware – the journalist who made the Panorama programme – for accusing him of “deliberate and malicious misrepresentations designed to mislead the public”.

The party agreed to pay “substantial damages” to the journalist.

Labour Party members have a right to accountability and transparency of decisions taken in their name, and an effective…

Posted by Jeremy Corbyn on Wednesday, July 22, 2020

In his response to his party’s settling of the claim, however, Corbyn said:

Our legal advice was that the party had a strong defence, and the evidence in the leaked Labour report that is now the subject of an NEC inquiry led by Martin Forde QC strengthened concerns about the role played by some of those who took part in the programme.

As The Canary previously reported, the leaked Labour report alleged that:

“hyper-factional” opposition to the ex-leader among former senior officials was a key factor in hindering effective handling of complaints regarding alleged antisemitism. At the same time, it argues there was “no evidence” that such complaints received different treatment from other complaints.

Labour’s handling of antisemitism allegations under Corbyn’s leadership is the subject of an inquiry by the Equality and Human Rights Commission – Starmer has already received a draft report from the watchdog.

Outside court, shadow attorney general Lord Falconer said: “It is for the (Equality and Human Rights) Commission to make its findings public when it chooses… but we have brought to an end a chapter when the Labour Party was accusing whistleblowers of behaving dishonestly and I’m incredibly glad that we have brought it to an end.”

In a statement, the party said: “Antisemitism has been a stain on the Labour Party in recent years. It has caused unacceptable and unimaginable levels of grief and distress for many in the Jewish community, as well as members of staff.

“If we are to restore the trust of the Jewish community, we must demonstrate a change of leadership.”

But Len McCluskey, general secretary of the Unite union, joined Corbyn in condemning the decision.

In his response, Corbyn further said: “The decision to settle these claims in this way is disappointing, and risks giving credibility to misleading and inaccurate allegations about action taken to tackle antisemitism in the Labour Party in recent years.

“To give our members the answers and justice they deserve, the inquiry led by Martin Forde must now fully address the evidence the internal report uncovered of racism, sexism, factionalism and obstruction of Labour’s 2017 general election campaign.”

 

We need your help ...

The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.

Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.

We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.

Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?

The Canary Support us
  • Show Comments
    1. “Bennett said Labour “accused the whistleblowers of having acted in bad faith during and after their employment with the intention of harming the Labour Party” – allegations he said were “untrue and defamatory”.”

      Talking of acting in bad faith, what about the Labour members who joined because they believed in Corbyn’s vision, only to be betrayed by the PLP members who sabotaged their own party from within, while taking funds from those members.

      There is such a thing as obtaining funds by deception. It’s time for the 350,000 people who joined around 2015 to demand a refund.

    2. If Storma and his zionist supporters think that this will draw a line under this crock of poo, then what a shock they are in for. Settlement will be claimed as proof that Labour was indeed an anti-Semitic party. Step forward the usual suspects and more purging of the ranks. The real Labour party has died a death by a thousand cuts. Chris Williamson was correct
      “The cuckoos who took over the Labour nest have destroyed it.”
      Shame on all the conspirators involved. Now they are going after JC, he must vigorously refute and attack these accusations in court, and party funds must be made available for a robust defence of his and the parties reputation. Farewell Labour, I probably will not see a socialist Gov again in my short visit on this rock.

    3. Corbyn pays the price of not clearly answering poliotically by revealing the real goal of the smear “antisemitism” campaign. It was definitely not about antisemitism, but about undermining Jeremy Corbyn and the left of the Labour party. Corbyn should have attacked politically this dirty campaign and should have defended the unjustly smeared Labour left wingers like Williamson and Walker, instead of trying to please the JLM and press who wanted nothing less than his skin. A sad story that should teach a hard lesson.

    4. In related news, the State of Israel has announced a settled payout to the poor German Nazis who were accused of “genocidally killing Jewish people”.

      As the current leader of the State of Israel said off-record: “Sure, there’s a theory that they actually were killing Jews, but thanks to them I’m in the position of power that I’m in, so truth be damned”.

      Labour: doesn’t support labour, doesn’t support solidarity, doesn’t support honesty, doesn’t support decency and human compassion.

      Labour: = not getting my vote.

    5. There are times I look at this world and what’s going on politically in it and i despair. Then there are other times when I am reminded that I am not alone, that there others just like me and I regain some hope.

      I am proud today to read all the other comments and I totally agree with just about every statement. As a former Labour Party member of over 20 yrs that left during the lurch to the right under Blair. Then followed yrs of supporting the party with my vote but little else. And then like an arrow of sunlight piecing through dark clouds, along comes Jeremy Corbyn a man I had always admired for his honesty and integrity. I gained hope, hope that things would change for the better, hope that fairness not greed would prevail and hope for the future.

      My family and I talked about this hope and how we could help and support the Party, I was dithering about if I should rejoin or not as I couldn’t see this new honest, reforming and fair movement being allowed to prosper. But under Corbyn it certainly did prosper and during the 2017 election I decided that whilst I could join the party, my money would be a better way to support and I donated well over £200 out of my pension. So imagine how I feel now ? Having donated money for 2 elections following pleas for help saying that with my donations we could win ! I later find out that actually my money was used to stop the Labour Party from winning !!!!! Well I can tell you it’s hard not to use several well known swear words how I feel except to say I feel BETRAYED, STUPID and VICTIMISED. How Fu**ing dare they do that to their own party, how Fu**ing dare they do this to Labour Party Members and FU**ING dare they do this to the poor the hungry and the disabled people of this country???

      I have contacted the Labour Party requesting my money back as I now feel to put it kindly that it was obtained under false pretences, but in reality was stolen from me as a massive fraud was being carried out. Of course the Labour Party has not even bothered to reply to my request and now I am even more angry. Are there other members/donors like me? Is anyone trying to organise some kind of class action? Or at least some advice?

      So to sum I am incredibly proud of all those who have written much better comments than I ever could, I am incredibly angry at the Labour Party who have lost my and my families votes for ever but above all I am sad for those that need and deserve better.
      RANT OVER !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks

    6. A well organized progressive Socialist Party already exists in the UK; you are all welcome to join the Green Party. If Starmer does chuck Corbyn out of the Labour Party he could become a Green Party MP. If there was a sudden massive drop in Labour membership as several progressive Left MPs became Green Party MPs and former Labour supporters all joined the Green Party Starmer might get the hint.

      This recent development is very painful for me as a genuine Whistleblower who experienced having my entire career destroyed in retaliation for reporting negligent practice; I am simply horrified by Starmer’s betrayal. It is really disgusting to hear that the only people who don’t suffer after blowing the whistle are those who fabricate complaints to deliberately defame a very decent person. I am writing to my Labour MP.

      Crowdfunding for Jeremy’s defence Fund was set up 24hours ago, it has surpassed £55,000.
      https://www.gofundme.com/f/47gyy-jeremy039s-legal-fund?utm_source=whatsApp&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=m_pd+share-sheet

    7. Starmer likes the persecution concept and its lie of antisemitism against Corbyn and the Labour Party without a flaw.
      Its astounding he has thrown the Labour Party under the bus going back to its very origins, a funeral for the Labour party. I wonder why he ran to be leader?
      Stranger things have happened in the fossilized social stratum, I can’t just think for the moment what one is apart from the Charge of the Light Brigade, Custers last Stand etc.
      Hoping everyone who has a sensible vision for this sorry world of ours joins the Green Party to begin a fresh start, as it will never happen again in Labour.

    Leave a Reply

    Join the conversation

    Please read our comment moderation policy here.