Comment: Watson’s record challenges his fitness to touch disciplinary processes

Tom Watson is still agitating for influence over the Labour Party’s complaints process – but his track record is a problem

Tom Watson


Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson has persisted in trying to gain control or at least influence over the party’s disciplinary processes. After being rebuked for the breach of data laws implicit in his invitation to MPs to send information on complaints – to an address outside party servers, too – Watson proceeded to arrange a meeting with peers last week to tout for their support.

Labour’s media opponents, unsurprisingly, were quick to push a letter from peers that dismissed the data implications even though members of the House of Lords are not known for their expertise in the matter and their claim has been contradicted by those who are.

Premature accusation

But Watson’s record of ill-advised and premature reaction suggest that Labour should not allow him near any disciplinary matters, for the sake of due process – and to avoid jeopardising action against genuine abuse or antisemitism.

In 2012, Watson claimed to have seen:

clear intelligence suggesting a powerful paedophile network linked to parliament and No 10

But Peter McKelvie, Watson’s source for any information, later criticised Watson for not listening or taking time to properly understand what he was told. During his opening statement to the official inquiry into sexual abuse of children, counsel to the enquiry said that the source had accused Watson of:

act[ing] precipitately in asking the question in Parliament, and that the language he used did not reflect the information that Mr McKelvie had given him

McKelvie said:

Tom Watson ‘mixed up’ his facts and made exaggerated claims about a ‘powerful paedophile network’ linked to Downing Street…

I would never have wanted Tom Watson to do a PMQ as a tactic until he
heard the whole story. The only thing I wanted to say about politicians is every institution has abusers in it. The more powerful people are, the more likely they are to get away with it. I never talked about rings .

According to McKelvie – as outlined by counsel to the inquiry – Tom Watson took a general comment and leaped to turn it into a huge network. Another QC involved accused Watson of phoning police to press them to chase a “non-existent network” and stated that Watson’s claims “had no basis“.


Watson also accused former Tory front-bencher Leon Brittan, calling him ‘close to evil’ – and was subsequently forced to apologise, describing his own language as “emotive and unnecessary”.

Whatever his motives – for his earlier premature judgments or for attempting to hijack Labour’s disciplinary process – Tom Watson’s history must be regarded as a red flag against any access to the sensitive and personal information of people who have not yet been ‘found guilty’ of any wrongdoing.

Even if it was not contrary to data protection laws to allow Watson access to such information, the reputation of the Labour Party, any hope of due process – and proper action against genuine cases of abuse or antisemitism – require its prevention.

Tom Watson was contacted for comment but had not responded by the time of publication.

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  1. I’m just mortified I voted for the snake in the first place. I think I was taken in by the way he went after Murdoch during the phone hacking parliamentary committee hearing back in 2011.

    The guy’s literally a shape-shifter!

  2. I never had a political thought in common with Leon Brittan an ex Thatcher minister but as I have posted on this site earlier I will never forget the massive injustice that was done to him and the pain that was inflicted on him by Tom Watson while he, Leon Brittan, was at his lowest ebb dying from cancer.
    Leon died, a broken but totally innocent man hounded by the press and pursued by the police at Watson’s insistence.
    Tom’s was gleeful and proud of the vicious witchhunt he instigated and for which he was later forced to apologise to the Brittan family – too late for Leon Brittan . He had died by that time with his reputation in tatters thanks to Tom Watson .
    Now despite this appalling history and the damage he did to Leon Brittan and his family Tom Watson wants to be Labour’s Witchfinder General. This must never be allowed to happen. We don’t want witchhunts , we want a proper disciplinary process whereby members are subject to due process and those found to broken our rules receive sanctions up to and including expulsion.
    We have and excellent General Secretary who is completely capable of investigating complaints and she must be allowed to do so without hindrance or interference.

  3. When we introduce a democratic nomination process, this little creep can saunter off and join his friends on the other side of the house, no doubt with cries of ‘Corks!! Yaroo!!’ I stopped voting Labour when Kinnochio revealed himself as a tool of Fleet Street, if not worse, so I kinda missed this liability becoming Deputy Leader.

  4. The Labour leadership should publicly say that they think it would be a very bad idea to let someone with a long history of making hugely damaging false accusations about people have any influence at all over the party’s complaints procedures.
    It’s not just the Brittan and the imaginary ‘powerful paedophile network’ claims that Watson has supported. He’s also been first to support any accusations of anti-Semitism against the Labour party, no matter how lacking in evidence they are. He and his LFOI mates helped to drum Marc Wadsworth out of the party on trumped up charges, for example.
    Watson seems incapable of (or uninterested in) finding out if a claim is true or not, so he’s the last person you’d want investigating serious complaints.

  5. “Well well, Watson”, finally the truth is out?
    I voted for you and your half truths?
    Putting my trust in a man of values and your remarks about child molesters.
    Be ashamed of your remarks and would be lies you have spoken upto and including the most recent about the Labour Party you say you love!
    How disgusted I am, knowing now what I think you really are.
    “Unmentionable”, only to your face.

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