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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