Analysis comment

Starmer’s probe into ‘commissioning’ of leaked report is a red herring. Party had duty to because of lawsuit and EHRC

Two-thirds of Starmer’s investigation are redundant. Party had obligation to investigate staff conduct – and he has said himself that whistleblowers must be protected

Keir Starmer

Labour leader Keir Starmer last week announced an ‘independent’ investigation into the leaked internal report that accused right-wing headquarters staff of insulting colleagues, obstructing disciplinary processes – and sabotaging Labour’s 2017 by-election and general election campaigns.

But Starmer’s strangely-structured parameters for his investigation have raised concern among members and party insiders that he is going after the staff who created the report and the whistleblowers who leaked it, rather than the staff who were paid to work for Labour and are accused of doing their best to undermine it:

We have seen a copy of an apparently internal report about the work of the Labour Party’s Governance and Legal Unit in relation to antisemitism. The content and the release of the report into the public domain raise a number of matters of serious concern.

We will therefore commission an urgent independent investigation into this matter. This investigation will be instructed to look at three areas. First, the background and circumstances in which the report was commissioned and the process involved. Second, the contents and wider culture and practices referred to in the report. Third, the circumstances in which the report was put into the public domain.

We have also asked for immediate sight of any legal advice the Labour Party has already received about the report.

In the meantime, we ask everyone concerned to refrain from drawing conclusions before the investigation is complete and we will be asking the General Secretary to put measures in place to protect the welfare of party members and party staff who are concerned or affected by this report.

Two out of the three areas of scope for the investigation concern the staff who investigated the behaviour of former HQ staffers and the whistleblowers who brought the investigations findings into the public domain.

But the first – Starmer’s investigation of ‘the background and circumstances in which the report was commissioned’ – is a naked red herring that needs no investigation at all.

Because Labour and its general secretary Jennie Formby had a legal duty to do so.

Legal duty

The party is being sued by a number of former staff who appeared in last year’s BBC Panorama programme accusing Labour of failing to deal with antisemitism complaints and protect Jewish members – and a key plank of their attempt to sue is that Labour responded to the programme by saying that those interviewed were politically motivated.

To defend the party against the suit, Labour was obliged to look into their conduct and messages during their time as employees and any political motivation it revealed – and had a duty to its members to do its utmost to protect their interests and investment.

And as the journalist who originally published information on the leak noted, they found far more than they bargained for.

A similar obligation exists because of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) investigation into Labour’s handling of antisemitism complaints. The party has a duty to investigate and provide its findings to the EHRC – and it found that right-wing party staff were failing to deal with, and in some cases obstructing, investigations into various complaints, not only concerning antisemitism.

Related: Right-wing Labour staff shredded thousands of disciplinary documents – but gave copies to press

And the party had every right to access the messages contained in the report. The SKWAWKBOX understands that some were provided to Labour by one of the participants-turned-whistleblower – and some were accessible either because those involved used a party messaging system, or because participants had used their Labour email to send archives of the chats to themselves.

In all those cases, Labour has a right to access the information – and being able to access it, the party had a duty to do so on at least two counts.

Whistleblower protection

In addition, Keir Starmer said in February that whistleblowers must be protected – and he must protect those who blew the whistle on the alleged conduct of former (and a few current) Labour staff when the party decided not to release the report into that conduct.

On legal grounds and on his own words, two-thirds of Keir Starmer’s ‘urgent’ investigation are redundant.

He must focus all effort and resource on investigating those who, in all likelihood, prevented Labour becoming the party of government the knife-edge 2017 general election.

Anything else is a diversion and a smoke-screen.

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36 comments

    1. you and me both, john thatcher. they will claim like smithy duncan & john major’s object of dalliance, the heartless witch, Currie, that they could not have known Starmer is very bad news.🌹🌹🌹

  1. “must focus all effort and resource on investigating those who, in all likelihood, prevented Labour becoming the party of government the knife-edge 2017 general election.
    Anything else is a diversion and a smoke-screen.”

    Anything else is evidence that Keir Starmer says things he does not mean, eg protecting whistleblowers.

    Anything else proves he would prefer the wrongdoings were never exposed.

    Anything else proves, that he is unfit for any public office in general, and Leader of the Labour Party in particular. That is my opinion. It is my belief that Starmer’s actions re this urgent matter will prove that he is not to be trusted by the membership to defend openness, to defend the wronged members, and to defend what is right🌹🌹🌹

    1. You won’t believe this but I don’t trust Max Headroom at all. Call it a hunch.

  2. It crossed my mind today. Think of it. THOUSANDS of people victims of CALLOUS negligence by Johnson & Cummings. Thousands of avoidable deaths. Many multiples of those departed, grieving the premature deaths of loved ones

    Deaths world wide of hundreds of thousands. Mass graves in the Bronx NY and Kent UK. A million infected world wide. Yet, listen. Listen to the defeating silence of those who waged a four year campaign of slander over words and meanings. But now avoidable deaths draw not a whisper of condemnation of the home of eugenicists, the Tory Party. Not a whisper of those who put on full theatrics snd claimed two thousand sets of words which upset them so acutely. Yet now, thousands and thousands of deaths and grief and mourning, where are they??? Have you heard them??? Not a hiss about Boris Johnson & Dominic Cummings. Anyone heard them??? No me neither.🌹🌹🌹

    1. My brother died in a care home recently,the only Tory in the Okeefe family and at the hands of a party his company paid donations to..like all of us we never know whats round the corner,but whats clear to me is that both my brother and me have made donations to partys we believed in and supported and both of us have been stabbed in the back by their politics and partys.I am still kicking and j like many others are not shocked at the Tory herd,eugenics plan ,but I am sickened by the response from the leadership of the Labour party.

      1. Sorry to hear of your brother’s death Joseph. Yes, life seems at its most bizarre… since 2014. You may agree as you hail from Reigate, that Tories are bizarre. Farnham not too far away from was my patch. Virginia Bottomly used to be the MP, now tis Jeremy Unt. Tories used to deliver Tory literature stating “If you want a N****R as a neighbour, vote Labour”. There were never more than 5 or 6 non caucasians in the area. One was a distinguished artist with pieces in the V&A. He lectured at the Art College. At one time a well known ex newsreader lived on Castle St. Curious that where people are surrounded by those who look like themselves, they are terrified of others and become racist & bigoted. Often they are not bad, just ignorant.

        Re the Labour Party, Tories were allowed to infiltrate it. There was no military attack. The self-serving imposters were indulged and “given a chance”, “too early to judge”, etc etc etc. Thus another muck of bad bad news, Keir Starmer, was ALLOWED into the shadow Cabinet, GIFTED a key position, ENABLED to feed intelligence to WMD Blair & Co, ALLOWED to coup, ALLOWED to sabotage, and allowed to grab the leadership, by an inexcusable CHOICE to sit on 800+ pages of sound evidence over FOUR years. And dear Joseph, the appeasing FAILED culture STILL paralyses some. Some only recover from JELLIED SHAMEFUL INEXCUSABLE INCONSISTENT WEAKNESS, to moan about the MSM + INTERVENE, PROTECT + DEFEND those who were stabbing + knifing in the back, sides and FRONT. That damp drift must NEVER be ALLOWED to happen again.
        From CLP branch level to Leader, damp limp responses, blown about by the wind, useless obsession about every remote issue, every tiny virtuous niche issue, “symbolic” USELESS statements about this and that, yet no action on burning basic issues here and now. Labour must not be a virtue signalling talking shop. Labour must govern this country.🌹🌹🌹

  3. The knight is part of the problem amd I have know doubt he’s part of the conspiracy to destroy Corbyn and the democratic socialist labour party.How can the knight investigate his and his gangs actions independently from the witchunt they have planned.?The farce would be laughable but for the removal of so mamy loyal and dedicated socialist comrades.

    1. Joe, You need to focus on how the party was able to do all this to JC and then vote in Smarmer. We need to sort out the rot/poison root and branch or form a new social party.

  4. There is no doubt whatsoever that traitors held high office within the management of the Labour Party and any who were named in the report and are still members or who hold office in Labour afilliated organisations should suffer the same sanctions as they dished out to others.

    I wonder if it was Gordon Nardell, the barrister brought in to assist with the investigations, who blew the whistle on the traitors? He is mentioned a few times in the report but there is no mention that I could find, about when and under what circumstances he left, he just seems to disappear!

    Also mentioned is Patrick Smith who became head of disputes. It was said he had expertise as a ‘witch finder’ – my description, because he once belonged to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and left after he had recognised antisemitism in his own branch. Does anyone who may have been in the same branch, know the background to this?

    It is abundantly clear from the report that Jennie Formby and others were more terrified of people such as David Collier, a well known rabid Zionist, who sees anti-Semitism in anyone who supports Palestine or criticises Israel, than they were of ensuring a Labour victory. They were totally consumed by the deliberate tactic by Hodge, Collier and others of deluging the Party with vexatious complaints and panicked into turning inward on members, instead of looking closer to home at the traitors within.

    1. When you say that it’s abundantly clear from the leaked report that Jennie Formby and others were more terrified of people such as David Collier etc Jack, could you give an example or two of what it said in the report that led you to that conclusion. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, although I did skim through it when it was initially leaked, but only read a bit here, and a bit there.

      I very much doubt that Jennie Formby and a handful of staff dealing with the A/S complaints had any bearing on the outcome of the General Election…… Jeremy and Co had been expecting a GE to be called for more than a year, and were well prepared for it as such long before it was actually called, and the two main reasons for such a big defeat were the ongoing A/S smear campaign and changing position on Brexit.

      It’s impossible to remember ALL that happened after the the GE was called, but THREE ‘episodes’ that come to mind are: 1. The Chief Rabbi putting the boot in; 2. The letter signed by Joanna Lumley et al; and 3. The Simon Wiesenthal Center – just FIVE days before the election (which I had completely forgotten about until earlier when I was doing some research and just happened to come across it again) – placing Jeremy as the number one threat to Jews in the world, all of which received wide-spread coverage in the MSM of course.

      I went on to the SWC website earlier to see what they actually said, and needless to say, the reasons for placing him at No ! in their top ten was all based on a pile of falsehoods:

      http://www.wiesenthal.com/assets/pdf/top-ten-anti-semitic.pdf

      It was just pure coincidence of course that they happened to compile and publish their Top Ten just five days before the General Election. NOT! (I assume they publish a Top Ten every year, and assuming that’s the case, it will be interesting to determine if they normally publish it the first week in December, and unless I somehow missed it, it’s odd how Jeremy didn’t feature in their Top Ten in previous years, and then just suddenly went straight to No 1!)).

      1. Right, I just did a search, and turns out I was mistaken. Jeremy came in at No 4 the year before (2018) – and for your information, Roger Waters was No 9 – but the list wasn’t published until December 30th (so I’m gonna see if I can find their Top Tens for the two or three years prior to 2018 and see when they were published).

        https://www.jewishpress.com/news/jewish-news/antisemitism-news/2018-simon-wiesenthal-centers-top-ten-worst-global-anti-semitic-incidents/2018/12/30/

        PS Well I thought I’d just have a quick look prior to posting this, and in 2012 it was December 28th, and I have a feeling that THAT’s about the time they generally publish their Top Ten!

      2. In 2015 it was December 29th. In 2014 it was December 29th. In 2013 it was December 30th.

        The Top Ten for 2017 was published on Jan 3rd 2018, and Jeremy and the LP were No 10, but check out what was No 1. Just totally unreal! But not in any way political of course! And check out what it finishes by saying about the LP (or the climate in the UK to be precise)!!* Even MORE unreal!

        https://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/world/2018/january/hatred-rising-the-top-10-anti-semitic-acts-of-2017

        I can’t see their top ten list for 2016, but I think we can be 99.9% certain it was published at the end of December, or the beginning of January AND, as such, there is no doubt whatsoever that their top ten list for 2019 was deliberately published some three weeks earlier than usual so as to influence the outcome of the GE.

        *Needless to say, if the SW Center REALLY believed THAT, they would have had the LP and Jeremy at No 1.

      3. Allan
        Read Asa Winstanley on Electronic Intifada, goes into detail of who the authors were and how we got here

    2. “There is no doubt whatsoever that traitors held high office” they are still there!!

  5. As a lay trade unionist I have warned members in my workplace time out of number that their email accounts are easily assessed by management and that if management comes across inappropriate emails they will probably be disciplined.
    Management has the right to monitor staff emails/behaviour and I recall that some years ago almost a whole department was disciplined for sharing sexually inappropriate material during working hours using workplace facilities.
    Jennie Formby as General Secretary of our party not only has a right but has also an obligation to check that Labour Party staff are/were doing what they are/were paid to do especially when such serious issues were raised with the EHRC. What has been uncovered is truly shocking and probably amounts to antisemitism, sexism and other discriminatory behaviour .
    That is why in my opinion the legal advice was to withhold the report from the EHRC because based on the info in the report the EHRC would have no option but to uphold the antisemitism complaints received.
    This legal advice should be ignored and the EHRC fully informed of all the facts so that Jewish people and others whose complaints have been mishandled can have the outcome they deserve. I am at a loss to understand why the EHRC has not sought a copy for its consideration.
    Also I am astonished that the Chief Rabbi, the Board of Deputies, JLM, the Campaign Against Antisemitism, John Mann the governments Antisemitism Czar and MPs/exMPs such as Margaret Hodge and Ian Austin have not to the best of my knowledge ( though I stand to be corrected)called for this document to be forwarded to EHRC. They are always rightly and justifiably vocal about the scourge of antisemitism so their silence on this latest Labour antisemitism scandal is very surprising.

    1. Smart boy,

      A copy of the report was sent to the EHRC last week in a follow up to a submission made last July to support the issues raised in that submission involving the loss or destruction of two (non AS) complaint cases by the former staff member dealing with them before their departure on ‘sick leave’ in June 2018.

      A perusal of the charts in section 6 show even with an expanded number of staff to cope with the obvious increase in all complaints cases arising from a larger membership the focus of parsonnel, the NCC and the NEC must have been almost entirely devoted to processing and investigating AS complaints to the detriment of other non AS cases.

      Even those increased numbers between Q3 2018 and the end of Q3 2019 represent a miniscule number of cases in terms of the number of Party members.

      Taken together with the documented (In the report) activities of the team under McNicoll in ignoring blatant cases whilst pursuing less clear cut cases motivated by sectarian political agenda’s ( including crude attempts to suck the LOTO team into being the actual decision making group) clearly indicates that any same and rationale society would find the claims of institutional racism to risible.

      Unfortunately, in this post modern dystopia, no one does actual evidence based enquiry or judgement any more. Not just on this issue but on anything.

      Almost the entire leadership candidate contingency went on public record as signing up to the doctrine of an accusation based on subjective opinion being sufficient to warrant a guilty verdict and subsequent penalties on at least two issues – AS being one of them. With any attempt at a defence using evidence as another automatic guilty verdict (including any witnesses for thedefence).

      Good luck winning any poll with the British public on the basis of scrapping the principles of due process so publicly.

      1. Reply to Dave Hansell
        Are you absolutely certain that the report was sent to the EHRC last week? This is a genuine question as it is my understanding that it wasn’t sent due to legal advice. I also understand that the new leader and deputy leader asked for a copy of the legal advice and referred matters to the NEC .

    2. I can confirm Smartboy’s warning about emails etc.Having been a TU rep and worked in IT before I retired if you use your employer’s IT system for personal correspondence and hold copies of your documents and letters on your employers database or use their email system for personal messages the whole content belongs to your employer.

      Everything on your employers server belongs to them and they are legally responsible under the Data Protection legislation for it. Your employer is entitled to read the content of anything on their IT system and should they decided to do so the are at liberty to withdraw your access to any documents even those that you may have written.

  6. I was doing some research a bit earlier and, as such, came across something I completely missed at the time, but then, like I’m sure is the case for the vast majority of people who follow skwawkbox, it’s not as if I read a daily newspaper. I then found that just about all of the MSM covered the story, and that is that dozens of Labour MPs – ‘up to 50’ – threatened to quit the party if Rebecca Long-Bailey won the leadership election. But not a single name of any of these alleged dozens of MPs was mentioned in the media coverage as far as I can determine.

    Some of the articles that came up in the results were in respect of Len McCluskey urging them all to leave the party THEN, and saying “good riddance”, but given what happened to the others that left the party, I’m sure it was just an empty threat BUT was contrived to try and influence how members voted:

    ‘Up To 50 MPs Preparing To Quit Labour’ If Rebecca Long-Bailey Wins Leadership

    https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/mps-could-desert-labour-if-rebecca-long-bailey-wins-leadership_uk_5e3ae5bbc5b6b5fb438b4073

  7. Perhaps someone can put me right on this but I cannot find any comment from David Lammy regarding this report. Mr Lammy has always been outspoken on matters of racism but unlike many of his colleagues in the BAME community who have condemned the appalling behaviour highlighted in the report Mr Lammy has remained silent.Maybe he is to busy now he has been promoted to the shadow cabinet to replace Mr Burgon as Shadow Lord Chancellor.

  8. Here is an edited version of the letter I have sent to the entire NEC this morning. The letter doesn’t address the folly of adopting the IHRA definition and examples and the inevitable petards with which the party was hoist thereafter but sometimes it’s better not to fight on too many fronts at the same time.

    “The leaked labour report has caused an incredible amount of damage to the Party. It has shown that while thousands campaigned to get the Tories out, a small but damaging clique of high-level executives sought to undermine their efforts. Members have now read evidence of officials making “soft decisions” on antisemitism in order to “cause a crisis”; we’ve read how staff sought to rig elections and undermine democratic processes (locally and nationally); and we’ve read how an internal “scorched earth” policy went to great lengths to keep the Conservatives in power. As members of the Labour Party, we are also disgusted by the reported instances of racism, ableism, bullying, and sexism. We expect this to be a tolerant and open Party – and we are appalled by comments that reference “so-called moderate islam”; by the harassment and targeting of black MPs; by calls to “hang” and “burn” those with different political beliefs; and by the labelling of women as “crazy”, “fat”, “bitch-faced, “smelly cows”. We welcome the investigation into the report, but hope that the NEC prioritises dealing with the abundant cases of misconduct that are evidenced. We hope that you will consider: How will BAME members feel safe in the Labour Party if whistleblowers of racism are dealt with more harshly than those who are accused of it? How will members engage with the Party if those complicit in our defeat in 2017 are not suspended, but rewarded with new positions? And how will the Jewish community regain its trust in us if no action is taken against those who deliberately mishandled and ignored complaints, stoking fears for factional gain? The integrity of our Party is at stake, and we ask the NEC to bear in mind the frustration and anger of the membership at this time. We ask the NEC: –

    To immediately suspend those who have violated the terms of their membership, pending investigation.

    To proceed with a focus on the report’s contents. The investigation should be focused on alleged behavioural misconduct, and not allow itself to become a factional attack on whistleblowers. –

    To publish the leaked report, in redacted form, in full, before producing a publicly available report on the investigation.

    …. that having been actively involved in Labour Party politics since 1977. I stood as a candidate for XXXX in 1979 and thereafter primarily in XXXX from 1980 to 1992, where I worked practically full-time on every general and local election, often in support of my long term friend and comrade XXXX, the MP for XXXX, I was shocked to receive a letter from Sam Matthews expelling me on XXXX (I was at the time XXXX of XXXX Branch)…..It was clear at the time, and is now even clearer, that my expulsion was as the result of a factional purge of supporters of the then Labour leader. I chose not to appeal in order not to rock the boat in the run up to what could have been an important victory for the party in the subsequent General Election. It is more than the tragic that officers of the party, who were presumably extremely well paid for their services, not only could not display similar discipline and loyalty but were moreover actively engaged in undermining the party’s leadership and sabotaging the party’s electoral prospects.”

  9. ”Anything else is a diversion and a smoke-screen.”

    And it’ll end up being ‘Everything else’ not just ‘Anything else’

  10. The saboteurs just won’t go away. It seems they have decided that they would rather have the Tories than anyone in charge of Labour who is not a dyed-in-the-wool Blairite.

  11. Skwawky’s analysis is dead right, but the elephant will always be in the room as the IHRA definition remains legal currency. The Labour Party NEC actively embraced the cancer willingly….no consultation with members. The IHRA definition will be the criteria used by EHRC to prove the existance of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party…….the damage done to Jeremy Corbyn & Socialism is immeasurable. The stick that keeps beating has also been adopted by MSM & most establishment institutions, including local authorities & the Police. When will it become illegal to criticise Israel or claim that the State of Israel is a racist endeavour……a self evident truth.

    I wonder if there is any empirical evidence linking those responsible for adopting IHRA definition & those named in this report?

    1. Steve Richards, correct. Adopting the IHRA definition, which is used to attack critics of Israel and Zionism, is one of the greatest mistakes the Labour Party has ever made. It has put every member, including Jews, in danger of being targeted for suspension/expulsion by the Israel Lobby. Their aim, is to protect the racist State of Israel from meaningful criticism at all costs.

      Let’s not forget some of the union leaders such a McCluskey and Prentis who urged Labour to adopt the IHRA definition, thereby putting all members at risk.

      When you allow your opponent to make the rules of the game, do not be surprised if they tailor them against you!

      https://www.mintpressnews.com/settler-violence-attacks-haredi-jews-coronavirus-laying-israeli-attitudes-bare/266761/

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