NCC source says huge amount of evidence passed on by NEC investigators has no substance – but NEC ‘fast-tracking’ expulsions regardless, leading to concerns over post-expulsion deaths and suicide attempts
A Manchester woman has died within days of her expulsion from the Labour Party under a new disciplinary system.
The woman, whose identity has been confirmed to the SKWAWKBOX, is understood to have died on Tuesday as a result of a brain haemorrhage that locals are linking to stress brought on by her summary expulsion under a new ‘fast track’ process in which the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) is expelling members against whom antisemitism complaints have been made.
She was reportedly unaware that she might be expelled under the new process until after the fact – and was expecting further discussions with investigators after denying that many of the social media posts presented as evidence had been made by her.
Previously, the party’s quasi-judicial National Constitutional Committee (NCC) was the only body with power to expel – and would do so after assessing material passed onto it by NEC investigators, in most cases after a hearing at which the accused would have the opportunity to defend him- or herself.
However, to placate those accusing the party of taking too long to decide cases, the NEC has recently begun expelling members – who then could try to appeal their case to the NCC.
90% rejection rate
Keir Starmer has promised to go further if he is elected as Labour leader, with a pledge to abolish the NCC altogether. However, those involved with the process have been appalled at moves to eliminate or reduce the rigour with which complaints are assessed under its process, which is driven by legal advice from independent lawyers.
Speaking before the death of the Manchester woman reported above, one source told the SKWAWKBOX that the rates at which supposed ‘evidence’ is rejected is sky-high:
NEC investigators pass us evidence to assess, but much of it is so flimsy or irrelevant that when we’ve talked to our legal advisors we have no choice but to reject it as unfit – as much as 90% of it in some cases.
The thought that cases are being decided on the basis of things that simply don’t stand up to scrutiny is frankly terrifying. The whole point of creating the NCC in the first place was to prevent the same people acting as prosecution and jury – and to protect the party from the legal consequences of unsound judgments.
Nobody who wants justice to actually be done should be welcoming the proper process being diluted or bypassed, let alone eliminated. The NCC bases its operations on the recommendations of the Chakrabarti Inquiry. Our opponents accusations of us being soft and “letting people off” rather than expelling them, but in reality its just doing the job properly and fairly.
And our achievements keep the party out of court.
Multiple deaths and attempted suicides
Even more worryingly – but entirely predictably – the Manchester death above is far from the only death after expulsion that the party is having to look into.
The SKWAWKBOX understands from a separate source that as many as three people have died recently following expulsion – and that there have been at least as many attempted suicides.
The source told the SKWAWKBOX:
A lot of these people are older members, many not understanding properly how social media works and without the political education to understand how to express their objections to the behaviour of Israel in a more sensitive way.
For a lot of those people, they’ve spent years as members or within the movement and their whole social networks and sense of community are based on their party activism.
But when you’re suddenly cut off from those networks, the blow to their physical and mental health can be huge. And when the ‘evidence’ leading to suspensions and expulsions is often so weak, the sense of injustice on top of everything else puts people in real danger. It’s got to change.
One example of such insubstantial and irrelevant ‘evidence’ was seen just in the last couple of days. Birkenhead councillor and NEC candidate Jo Bird was suspended from the party – and the NEC by-election contest – after a complaint was lodged against her during the nominations phase.
The precise nature of the complaint was not made public by the party, but when an NEC disciplinary panel met yesterday to discuss the case, it was immediately dismissed and Bird was reinstated.
It was not the first time Bird had been suspended and reinstated. She was briefly suspended in spring 2019 after being recorded condemning the expulsion of a black Jewish activist and adapting a poem on the topic of solidarity, but her membership was quickly restored.
An unfair attack’
NCC chair Anna Dyer recently circulated a statement to NCC members calling on Starmer to withdraw his plan and recognise the work that the committee does – and the inadequacy of much of the material passed to it by investigators:
As a result of Sir Keir Starmer’s announcement of his intention to “Scrap the NCC and create an independent body to deal with complaints “ we are appalled at the accusations in the press already of the NCC failing to properly investigate accusations of anti-Semitism. This is completely untrue. The NCC does not investigate complaints. That is not our job.
Investigations are in fact carried out by employees of the Legal and Governance unit of the Labour Party . The NCC is entirely composed of Labour Party members from a whole range of different professions and experience including solicitors and they also have an independent lawyer to advise them.
Its sole purpose as an independent body within the Labour Party Structure is to hear Disciplinary Cases. We have been unfairly attacked on the grounds that the proportion of expulsions from our cases is not high enough.
We have reported to the Party when the evidence provided has fallen short of acceptable standards. Since we are a judicial body our decisions are based on the evidence provided by both the complainant and the defendant and the panel will decide on the evidence put before them. If it does not stand up to proof then the appropriate verdict will be given. We have robust procedures for the conduct of cases which are available in the Labour Party rulebook.
We are concerned that Sir Keir Starmer was unaware of the true situation and we hope he will recognise that. The volunteer members of the NCC deserve a true account of how they carry out their work. We are elected by the Party members and therefore are accountable to them. An appointed independent body as he suggests would have no accountability to the members who would have no reason to trust them.
It is also important that Party members are aware that the EHRC has been investigating antisemitism in the party since May 2019 and has not accepted our offer to be interviewed by them. This seems strange considering every single one of us is keen to see this problem settled once and for all.
The letter refers to attacks on the work of the NCC in the Murdoch press in the run-up to December’s general election.
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