On Tuesday, Labour NEC member and ‘Disputes Panel’ chair Christine Shawcroft caused controversy by social media comments attacking unions for not voting against the suspension – and referral to the ‘NCC’ (National Constitutional Committee, Labour’s most senior disciplinary group) – of certain Labour members.
The unions – as the SKWAWKBOX was exclusively able to reveal – abstained from voting because no evidence had been presented to justify voting against referring the matter to the NCC.
They were correct – but that did not mean that mitigating evidence did not exist.
Ilford South Labour member – and former CLP (constituency Labour party) secretary Syed Siddiqi was among those suspended.
Siddiqi – accompanied by a barrister – had presented evidence to the party investigators in the form of an audio recording during the investigatory interview.
A recording of serious Islamophobic abuse by a fellow member and would-be council candidate, who had taken offence at being removed from a WhatsApp group. The recording is shocking:
The full recording is almost four minutes long. Some of the most repetitive parts were edited out for brevity.
Whatever other evidence was presented in the case, this recording – in which the other member warns Siddiqi that he will not be CLP secretary for much longer, as well as calling him an Islamic fundamentalist and extremist – is clearly extremely relevant and potentially mitigating or even exonerating.
NEC members – not Ms Shawcroft – who were present for the Disputes hearing told the SKWAWKBOX that the recording was not among the evidence presented to the panel.
Mr Siddiqi’s barrister described Siddiqi’s investigatory interview as a
denial of justice…more reminiscent of a KGB interrogation than an impartial search for the truth.
His abuser has not been suspended.
Could allegations that have been circulating of a ‘stitch-up’, by right-wingers seeking ‘revenge’ for the resignation of outgoing Labour General Secretary Iain McNicol, have substance.
The NEC agreed, immediately after the Disputes hearing, to urgently review Labour’s disciplinary processes – that even waiting for the outcome of the ongoing ‘democracy review’ would be to wait too long.
Change is urgently needed.
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