Labour HQ unlawfully expels mentally-ill member. Ignores pleas for help

A couple of months ago, the Labour Party expelled a 70-year-old disabled member. That member, Clare Ayton-Edwards has appealed to the SKWAWKBOX to publicise her case in spite of its delicate nature, both in the hope of gaining justice for herself and in order to help others in similar circumstances.

Clare is housebound, suffers from depression and has been diagnosed as bipolar for many years.

The Labour Party’s rules state that if a member shows support for a candidate standing against a Labour candidate, that is grounds for expulsion. Clare fell foul of this rule during the recent General Election campaign by tweeting support for George Galloway when he stood in the Manchester constituency of Gorton against Labour candidate Afzal Khan. As a result, she was expelled from the party for a minimum of 5 years.

Clare wrote a heart-wrending email to Labour HQ explaining her circumstances and making clear that her tweet of support was online only for a very short time during an exacerbation of her mental health issues and pleading with the party to show compassion and make allowances for that:

email c a e

However, it seems certain that the rule was unlawfully applied in at least Clare’s case. Labour issues notes to new members who identify as disabled, about the obligations the party – locally and nationally – has toward disabled members:

disab intro

Labour’s own document admits that the party will not disadvantage a person because of their disability. But perhaps that applies only to physical disabilities? No:

disab def

Perhaps it does not apply to the party’s national officers? Clearly not:

disab duty

As the quotation above makes clear, Labour has a legal duty to make any ‘reasonable adjustments’ to accommodate a member’s disability – including, of course, mental health issues.

But surely that applies only to physical adjustments, such as ramps for wheelchair users? Not at all – it includes policies and procedures, too:

disab proced

In her email, Clare begs Labour to make a legally-mandated ‘reasonable adjustment’ – to the policies and procedures specifically include by law – by taking into account the fact that she tweeted support for Galloway during a mental health episode and that she deleted it as soon as she was well. She asks for a full response to her request.

Six weeks later she has received none – in spite of her obvious distress, in spite of numerous emails and phone calls to plead for a response and in spite of her notification to the party that she has previously attempted suicide when depressed.

The party HQ has refused even to put Clare out of her misery by confirming that it has no intention of replying. Instead, she is left dangling.

It is highly likely that Labour’s HQ has acted unlawfully in ignoring Clare Ayton-Edwards’ cry for help and her request for a ‘reasonable adjustment’ in view of her mental health issues.

But whatever the finer legal points, Labour HQ has unquestionably acted without compassion or humanity.

In light of her mental health troubles, the SKWAWKBOX was extremely reluctant to publish full details of Clare’s case, in case it caused her any additional distress. But she wrote back urging us to publicise it:

PLEASE TELL THE WHOLE WORLD – IN MY NAME – what can they do to me that is worse than 5 year expulsion ??? Life-long expulsion ??? 5 years might be “life-long” at my age !!! ANY & all help accepted with DEEP gratitude.

That was an appeal we could not ignore. If only Labour’s Southside HQ could say the same.

This gross injustice needs to be rectified without delay – and the party’s disciplinary rules need a full review to ensure that they are not discriminating against people suffering mental or physical health problem.

We urge Jeremy Corbyn and Katy Clark to include these matters in the recently-announced ‘democracy review‘ – and we call on the party to immediately reverse the expulsion for the sake of justice, while Clare Ayton-Edwards is around to benefit from the restoration of her long Labour membership.

Please share this information to raise awareness – and if you can think of a way to help Clare, get in touch on skwawkboxclp@outlook.com.

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  1. I see no positivity in going ‘ public ‘ with this story.
    This kind of negative ‘ exposure’ is exactly what the right wing media will jump on. Tomorrow / next week it could be headlines in the Mail/Sun/Express.
    Is that what you want ?

    1. There appears to be a problem at HQ. How can Blair speak of forming an alternative party and remain a member? Perhaps it is time for a new general secretary of the Labour Party. One that operates the rule book in a fair, considered and evenhanded manner

    2. Government is a matter of trust.

      If the Labour party is unwilling to root out this type of illegal and corrupt behaviour internally, issues which it is clearly unwilling to address under Iain McNicol’s stewardship, then the Labour Party cannot be trusted to govern.

      By failing to act, the General Secretary has condoned this illegal activity.

      Iain McNicol is also suppressing membership numbers by spying on new members and purging them in order to rig internal contests. As a result, the party will never reach a million members while he remains Secretary.

      It is explicitly clear that McNicol is a corrupt individual who is a reputational and electoral liability to the Labour Party.

    3. Not going public would be how the Tories would try to avoid negative exposure but – aren’t we obliged by our beliefs to ‘let justice be done though the heavens may fall?’

  2. I am absolutely disgusted that Iain McNicol, the General Secretary of the party, has not already intervened to correct this clear case of illegal discrimination against Clare.

    The damage to the reputation of the party caused by the persistent undermining of Labour’s principles and policies by staff managed by Iain McNicol at Labour Party’s Headquarters is nothing short of corruption and brings deep shame to the party.

  3. “The good of the Party” is presumably the reasoning but isn’t that how private companies justify to themselves the sale of dubious goods & services?
    Holding the moral high ground is important for its own sake – but it’s also the reason for Jeremy’s popularity and Labour’s resurgence.
    This lady needs an apology and her membership reinstated this week.

  4. Isn’t the real madness here that George Galloway remains outside the Labour Party, even though he was expelled for opposing Blair’s illegal attack on Iraq? If that injustice was corrected, we wouldn’t be in this position.

    1. abrebisgalloise 01/10/2017 at 7:58 am · · Reply →
      Isn’t the real madness here that George Galloway remains outside the Labour Party,

      Not really.

  5. It is an ongoing problem with the LP intercepting private information on social media, it isn’t important knowing the exact wording of the tweet it but it is difficult to make excuses for this draconian action and we have to be worried about this invasion of privacy when a party is scrutinising its own members on a continuing basis, I have had interaction on twitter with George for many years, he is very generous with his time to his followers, I wished him luck during the election the same way as I would do to a chess or sporting opponent,

  6. I shall not be tweeting this article as I usually do with many of SkwawkBox articles exactly for the reason it will generate negative at the wrong time with the Tory Party and MSM knowing that they are the biggest abusers of human and disability rights

    However that does not mean I will ignore it and do nothing, so I will write to Jeremy Corbyn directly via email and request it is corrected forthwith and without delay as I guess he is not even aware and know that he would not stand for this as against all his principals

    Let’s hope this is nipped in the bud

    1. I understand the reasoning, Leon. Clare was struggling badly and had already been kept waiting almost 2 months. Labour has a serious problem with its HQ staff and needs a major change of personnel, highlighting that so action can be taken is the only aim in this

  7. Does either Jeremy Corbyn himself or members of his own staff get a monthly list of members who have been expelled, banned or suspended that they can check meets the Party Rule book and if not reinstated ?

    If not this needs to happen


  9. I was expelled for the exact same reason. I was also led to believe that Corbyn supporters had been excluded and a woman Momentum candidate had been pushed aside. I was also having a hard time and suffering from anxiety & depression relating to PTSD at the time. I had no idea I was breaking a party rule. The ruling and the subsequent lack of hearing and dismissal of my appeal & letter of support from my MP, Lloyd Russell-Moyle has definitely worsened my mental health.
    If Clare would like to contact me, I would be very happy to hear from her.

  10. I don’t think is going to be resolved before they get back from Catalonia where they spent the weekend helping to clear voters out of the polling stations!

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