Excl: departing right-wing Labour staff ‘shredded’ 1000s of disciplinary docs – but gave copies to press

Labour criticised for slow processing of disciplinary cases but insiders say hampered by destruction of key documents

The Labour Party has faced criticism in the media over the last few days – by (Nick Cohen allegedly writing as) ‘Ratbiter’ in Private Eye and then picked up by other media – for allegedly not processing a large number of complaints, after ‘former Labour staffers’ leaked ‘tens of thousands’ of documents to the press.

The Daily Mail built on the Eye story to claim a hundred thousand documents relating to hundreds of complaints had been leaked in a ‘dossier’ – and that this reflects badly on Labour’s leadership:

The Mail claims:

A huge dossier of leaked messages detailing Labour’s handling of its anti-Semitism crisis is to be submitted to the equalities watchdog.

It contains a large body of evidence against the leadership, according to the former staffers who compiled it…

The dossier details 100,000 emails, including tens of thousands showing how Labour ignored complaints that supporters promoted anti-Semitism, the former staffers told Private Eye…

A source with knowledge of the material said: ‘The dossier is really serious. It shows a huge failure to act.’

However, it seems that the release of the ‘dossier’ reflects badly on the ‘former Labour staffers’ – and that the ‘failure’ is on the part of the media that did not properly check the background to the story.

The former staffers supposedly quit when Jennie Formby was appointed as general secretary – but in fact left well before that, when her predecessor Iain McNicol was allowed to resign to save face rather than be removed.

And the SKWAWKBOX can reveal that some of those staffers destroyed tens of thousands of documents relating to complaints – making it impossible for the party to pursue them – and have now been revealed by the ‘leak’ of the so-called dossier to have taken copies with them.

A senior Labour source told the SKWAWKBOX:

The claims are vastly exaggerated and in some cases blatantly dishonest. Many of the missing documents related to cases of people suspended during the infamous mass administrative suspensions [during the Labour leadership elections] under Iain McNicol. Those – around 9,000 cases – had nothing to do with antisemitism, but that detail seems to have been overlooked.

After the staff went, thousands of documents were discovered to be missing and appeared to have been shredded. There was simply no way to retrieve the details because they had apparently been destroyed by the people who had been administering the cases.

And now copies have turned up in the hands of the press, who are claiming Labour failed to act. It wasn’t a failure – we were prevented by the destruction.

Momentum founder and National Executive Committee member Jon Lansman appears to have been referring to this act of destruction last week when he condemned the actions of former staff who ‘deliberately delayed action’ on antisemitism:

Labour’s LabourList article states that:

disgruntled ex-staffers, presumably involved in selectively leaking and misrepresenting emails involving her, had themselves frustrated antisemitism cases to make the party and the leadership look bad.

My position now appears to have been vindicated. Emails leaked to Buzzfeed suggest that former compliance unit officials from the Labour right may have delayed action on some of the most extreme and high-profile antisemitism cases, including Holocaust denial, allowing a backlog of cases to build up that would damage the party and Jeremy’s leadership.

LabourList’s headline said that the handling of the complaints was ‘held back by bureaucracy’ – which in no way reflects the reality of Lansman’s claim. But the truth behind Lansman’s description of then-staff ‘delaying action’ on cases is far more than a mere go-slow by disgruntled right-wingers before they left.

The Labour Party has been contacted for comment.


The media have attempted to portray their ex-Labour sources as ‘whistleblowers’. Whistleblowers do not deliberately create the problem about which they claim to be blowing the whistle.

In this, as in so many instances, the right has created a problem – and then dishonestly exploited the problem to criticise the party.

To do so is not only inexcusable – but probably also criminal.

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  1. by Nick Cohen writing as ‘Ratbiter’ in Private Eye

    I f**king KNEW IT!!

    1. Good heads up on “Ratbiter”.
      His work will now be embargoed in future.
      Can’t say I recall bothereing with it in the past, tbh.
      It must be wholly forgettable and pisspoor 🙂

  2. Former lefties can make a good living in the media by attacking their ex-comrades – I’d do it myself if the price was right.

    Nick Cohen

  3. If we had a corporate media or indeed a BBC even slightly interested in telling the truth,this would finish the right wing of the Labour party and their friends in the media,but we haven’t so it won’t.

  4. As one of the 9000 I know how dishonest the previous staffers were. hopefully an inquiry will bring it all out into the open on the shredding and to why so many were suspended.

    1. It shows a complete lack of interest in anti-Semitism except for cynical exploitation of the issue to damage Labour/Corbyn.

    2. I worry about how much things have actually changed recently. If there had been a genuine sea change, then why was the case against Jackie Walker pursued so relentlessly and unfairly?

      1. Good point. And have we seen any others of those similarly falsely accused and victimised reinstated – except Moshe Machover, who had the clout to stand up to the intimidation?

        I think a major factor may be fear – but the result is the same : the Israel lobby succeeds in dominating the narrative.

      2. Yes RH, fear of being criticised in the media for being ‘soft on antisemitism’. And it probably wouldn’t have been milkshakes that Hodge threw at JC if Jackie had been successful.
        But trying to placate the Tiger hasn’t worked, has it? I watched the clip of Farage dealing with Marr when questioned and wished that Labour Party spokespeople had been equally robust with the smearing. I hate him but he’s effective. And there’ s probably substance in at least some of the charges against him, unlike the smears

    3. There are still staff within the party administration carrying on the work of McNicol and the Blairites.

      The Compliance Unit is still taking on face value anything that is alleged, any factual evidence is not necessary. They refuse to properly investigate, are rude and obstructive when trying to get information from them and are still presiding over a “disciplinary” system, designed to intimidate and brow beat members.

      I had hopes for a fair resolution to the mess the disciplinary process has turned into, when Jennie Formby took over as GS. But so far any action she might have taken to improve the situation has not filtered through to the admin staff. They smugly carry on as if nothing has changed. Because, it hasn’t.

  5. Now will we FINALLY see some expulsions from the party for gross misconduct???

  6. How many “disgruntled ex-staff” are we talking about here Skwawkbox?
    Criticising theft of documents for whistleblowing purposes isn’t a path the left should travel but I don’t think that’s the point here.

    This from the Mail: “is to be submitted to the equalities watchdog” implies the Mail was shown the file and told the “whistleblower/s” to submit it to the equalities watchdog to create the illusion of propriety.
    I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the Mail suggested the shredding of Labour’s copies/originals – but the shredding is clearly destruction of evidence of what may well include criminal acts and is therefore itself a crime I think – I don’t believe it matters whether they stole originals and destroyed copies or vice versa – they destroyed evidence.
    I’m no lawyer but I think the Mail might have difficulty keeping its informant/s confidentiality.

    1. I’ve got a niggling feeling of déjà vu – has there been a previous article on this?

  7. The destruction of an employers property particularly records that are held within a computer system is a serious criminal offence. If any of the records that have been maliciously destroyed by former employees were held on a computer system the police should be informed.

    These days disgruntled employees can’t “get back” at an employer by sabotaging the employer’s database or computer system without there being very serious consequences. It’s amazing how many people are unaware of this but the idea that you can remove steal or wipe even your own work files from a computer system if you leave your employment under cloud is no longer tolerated and hasn’t been for years.

    1. Yeah, assuming “shredded” meant paper documents was a bit naïve of me, wasn’t it? 🙂

    2. I need to go and research but I have in the back of my mind a case where an employer was held responsible for data breaches even where it was done deliberately.
      I very much hope I’m remembering incorrectly.
      Does anyone know who was employed in the unit before McNicol left and also went at around the same time?

  8. Here’s a helpful article on my blog, explaining what a whistleblower is and what a whistleblower isn’t.

    I WAS a Wirral Council whistleblower.


    This relates to my MP Angela Eagle and her claim in the complicit Guardian and Liverpool Echo of being supported by 17 whistleblowers (count them) when she brought allegations regarding homophobia, bullying and intimidation.

    A classic case of trial by media, involving unnamed persons, right-wing Wirral Councillors which later fell to pieces around them.

  9. There will always be many accusations of Anti-Semitism as long as the Labour Party keeps the IHRA definition. Israel is a racist apartheid state & as a member of the Labour Party I should be reported & expelled. It’s the constitution.

  10. Well, that’s interesting. Shredding documents before you leave is something deeply suspicious and I’m sure that there might be some serious implications for those concerned. If any of the documents included details of threats (both physical and verbal) then perhaps legal action can be taken against the individuals concerned. There might be if evidence can prove conclusively that the destruction was done on the orders of Labour Officers then he or she could be facing an investigation. The more that comes to light the more I feel that the party was run on behalf of the few not the many.

  11. Yes must be an investigation and these vile human beings should be expelled and agree with previous point – this also sounds like a criminal offence which Labour should pursue.
    Shows the desperation of some of the Barbarians on the Right, they know they can’t win on IDEAS so use underhand tactics in their desperation.
    Labour needs to come down on them like a ton of bricks but then again a disgusting Right Barbarian secretly recording part of a NEC meeting (Labour’s most senior meeting) and leaking it to the media then getting away with it perhaps gives the Right Wing political morons confidence that they are above the law?
    How do these political creeps sleep at night?
    I’ve just been out this morning leafleting unemployed people with my union, offering support outside a job centre, and some were facing delays in payments and sanctions and needed foodbanks – it is heartbreaking but all of us real socialists will carry on getting on with fighting for and alongside diverse working people!

  12. Whistleblowers predominantly appear alone, or occasionally in small clusters of 3 or 4 at the most.

    It takes courage to do this alone, and whistleblowers generally put their heads over the parapet and speak up honestly – without malice aforethought – and without regard for their own safety when they hold concerns that there have been one or more failures, their employer is responsible, but has failed to act when they should have done.

    Almost by default, up and down the UK, whistleblowers are encouraged to notify early – to not rush to the media – and to follow internal procedures in order to keep the process manageable, and in order to work with their employer towards a mutually acceptable outcome.

    Should this group not be made up of genuine whistleblowers – which we don’t feel it is – it would damage the positions of real whistleblowers, i.e. real workers who have notified of serious issues in good faith and have taken the consequences square on. To feign such good honour and integrity for one’s own advantage and thereby erode others’ cases is frankly shameful and beneath contempt.

    Whistleblowing, when seen to be done in good faith, is a ‘protected’ action under an Act of Parliament known as PIDA – the full name being the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998. This Act was brought in by Tony Blair’s Labour government in 1998 as an amendment to the Employment Act 1996, with the intention of protecting employees who had concerns that their employer was either conducting itself illegally, immorally, damaging the environment, or was deliberately covering up such conduct.

    Anybody who’s made a ‘protected disclosure’ against an employer will know that it’s tough and unforgiving and will be aware that in response, they will be ignored, targeted and / or vilified, rather than being valued, celebrated and championed. And many will experience further detriment, because suddenly they may find themselves unemployed and at the mercy of the DWP. In truth, they never felt ‘protected’ under PIDA because the Act wasn’t up to the job of providing that protection, and didn’t do what it said on the tin.

    ‘Protection’ for whistleblowers under the pisspoor PIDA is near impossible as things stand, but would certainly not arrive for members of a hotch-potch group of colluding, politically-motivated persons with a clear axe to grind.

    Furthermore, protection such as that afforded to genuine whistleblowers will not be granted to individuals or a group who’ve rushed to the media when the first opportunity came to publicise their ‘plight’. Modern employers have in place policies and procedures, often drawn up in consultation with unions, which invariably state that complainants and whistleblowers should not expect to be able to approach the press early on, publishing ‘warts and all’, and must comply by exhausting all internal avenues of complaint.

    1. WIIT, that’s very enlightening. As I read I was struck by an analogy. This appears to be someone perverting something good for society into its opposite. We’ve seen this in a closely associated area.It appears that some people are prepared to weaponise whistle blowing just as ‘antisemitism’ is weaponised as a cudgel against anti racism activists..

      1. Thanks Simon. It’s exactly that my friend. It’s heavily and actively cynical behaviour. Angela Eagle was behind this on Wirral. And to plumb the depths even further, she weaponsised bogus homophobia as part of her sick attack on innocent party members. Words absolutely fail me that a pwerful gay person would abuse not just her power but her own sexuality in this way, and would even attempt to implicate fellow gay CLP comrades in her assault on all that is respectable and dignified, for personal greed. But I think what sickens me more than anything right now is the apparent unwillingness to act of the local Wallasey CLP, the people who were suspended for 18 months for no reason. They’re failing to do the right thing and finally put the skids underneath her. I’m not a Labour member – I couldn’t be when it can’t handle the truth…for obvious reasons – but I’ve used my blog to try and take the fight to hard right Labour locally. I’m not seeking gratitude but I feel sometimes that all my efforts through #Brickgate and other council-related corruption has been wasted when I see photos of Angela Eagle and the Corbyn-supporting left smiling back at me with cheesey grins. Is it possible that one day, the left will be ensconced as local councillors, relationships are struck up with malfeasant Senior Council officers, the whole corrupt circus revs up again and vulnerable people begin to suffer. If it does, I’ll be onto them like a shot.

  13. I wonder if there is any form of legal redress that Labour could enact against these alleged perpetrators

  14. Good time to get rid of a few then let the rest follow,
    In no particular order, Watson, Hodge, Streeting, Philips, Lammy

  15. I was pleased to see this story and am rather hoping I am one of the 9000 referred to. This is part of a letter I received from one of McNicol’s henchmen, Sam Matthews; whether he is one of the whistleblowers of course I do not know.

    “It has been brought to our attention with supporting evidence that you are a supporter of the Communist Party which is incompatible with membership of the Labour Party. The evidence provided can be found overleaf.
    Chapter 2.I.4.B of the Labour Party’s rules states:
    “A member of the party who joins and/or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour Group or unit of the Party or supports any candidate who stands against an official Labour candidate, or publicly declares their intent to stand against a Labour candidate, shall automatically be ineligible to be or remain a party member, subject to the provisions of part 6.I.2 of the disciplinary rules”.”

    Now I don’t know who “brought this to our attention” but I do know that the supporting evidence in the form of a 9 page PDF contains nothing but Facebook posts made to a Communist Party of Britain supporters group page. Most of them refer to my support for Jeremy Corbyn: the longest is an explanation of my political history: former Labour candidate, member of the CPGB, member of Labour again until Blair, member of the CPB, member of the French Communist Party (having gone into exile with my French partner in protest at the Iraq War), leaving the French Communist Party, and finally joining Labour on 27th June 2016 to support Jeremy Corbyn in the face of the “chicken coup.”

    Thus my explanation of how I had carefully followed party rules was used as evidence of my breaking them!

    I don’t have communist party membership lists but the group referred to is unmoderated and has many, many members who are not members of the party, sometimes even anti-communist trolls.

    I’m particularly active in support of the Palestinian people, so I wouldn’t have been surprised to have been accused of anti-semitism. Clearly they couldn’t find anything that would stick in that regard so this was the result. You could have blown me down with a feather when I read their rationale.

    Matthews’ letter was dated 31st March 2017. By the time I received the paper copy in France, the general election had been called. I decided that appealing at that point, with McNicol and Matthews still in office, would potentially hand more rocks to the opposition so I stayed stumm.

    This news may have changed things.

    Those who read this column will know that my activism didn’t cease, that I remain a convinced supporter of the Corbyn project and the socialist rejuvenation of the Labour Party.

    I think I would be within my rights now to ask to be re-admitted.

    A final thought: anyone who has read Philip Agee’s book “Inside the Company” will be disturbed by some of the things that have gone on “inside the Labour Party.” Whilst the media constantly have us looking for modern Russian or Chinese spies (I’d be amazed if there were even one Russian or Chinese spy in the current PLP) or historical Czech and East German ones, it is more than likely that the real nest of spies IS “inside the Labour Party” but comes from the US and Israel and predominantly from our own domestic “intelligence” services. Even if that were not true, the ideological spaghetti that is the brains of the likes of Streeting, Ryan, Coyle, Hodge, Bryant, Phillips etc. ad nauseam, is sufficient to serve the same end.

    Antonio Gramsci talked of a time when “the old is dead and new cannot be born, when there is a fraternisation of opposites and all manner of morbid symptoms pertain”. We live in such a time.

      1. Hope not Hate’s position is particularly important because people generally have a positive views of them through their other genuine anti racist work. I did until I realised they supported the smearers.

  16. The focus in this story has been on Nick Cohen – who is, of course, a notorious perpetrator of ‘antisemitism’ myths and sundry wild-eyed conspiracies.

    But, note that this comes through Private Eye, which has totally belied its role as a leader in the field of investigative journalism.

    I’ve kept an eye on its coverage of the anti-Corbyn/antisemitsm narrative, and there has never been a peep about the clear propaganda fiction that lies behind it. It has, in fact, been totally at one with the MSM in its editorial line on one story that takes very little nous to expose.

    But … one has to be aware when reading it that, despite *some* good digging, the ‘Eye’ is essentially a public school boys’ rag mag.

  17. “But note this comes through Private Eye, which has totally belied its role as a leader in the field of investigative journalism.”

    And of satire! On Have I Got News For You the other week, when the accusation of Julian Assange “smearing the embassy walls with excrement” came up, both Hislop (PE editor) and Merton could only demur, tut-tutting about how awful it was and basically saying a discreet veil should be drawn over the whole subject and let’s move on. They saw the open comedy goal yawning in front of them and, rather than laugh in the accusation’s face saying “you don’t believe this shit, do you?” (no pun intended), they decided to abandon their profession and their morals to keep in with the Establishment.

    Utterly shameful.

  18. Private Eye gets by because of its un-user friendly design. Huge scandals are buried in a mass of small type. I imagine what it would be like with headlines and pictures.

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