Seven, mostly Jewish, Labour Party members calling themselves Labour Activists For Justice or LA4J have launched a crowdfund to take the party to court over its disciplinary processes, which they consider unsound and unjust.
They say that under the current processes:
- all communications from the party are anonymous
- the accused are not told who has made the complaint
- those accused are sent ‘evidence’ – usually screenshots of social media postings etc and a list of party rules they are alleged to have broken
- the accused are then asked to explain how the ‘evidence’ might support the charges – in effect requiring the accused to incriminate themselves
- they are not told who their ‘judges’ will be, nor whether they have a right to a hearing
- they have no opportunity to question witnesses
In short, those accused by the party – and often suspended as a result – are subject to an opaque procedure and are denied any rights, including any presumption of innocence.
The group points out that the party is aware of the likely harmful impact of these procedures on their targets, as they advise them to talk to their GP or to the Samaritans if they need support. However, they are forbidden to talk to anyone else, even relatives or lawyers, or face yet more disciplinary charges.
Yet at the same time there are frequent leaks from within the party itself, with suspended members often contacted by hostile media with demands for comment about cases that are supposed to have been kept confidential.
An LA4J spokesperson said:
Throughout its history the Labour Party has fought for the rights of workers, including the right to a fair and just disciplinary process. If any employer tried to impose the party’s process on their employees today, the party and the unions would be up in arms. It is a disgrace that needs to be fixed.
We have drawn the party’s attention to our concerns, including with a detailed lawyer’s letter, but they have not responded. A legal challenge is not a road we want to go down, but they have left us no choice.
Those involved include an 80-year-old Jewish woman twice accused of antisemitism by the party, a long-standing Jewish trade unionist and a retired Jewish professor.
Recent decisions by the party’s now right-dominated national executive have largely sidelined the National Constitutional Committee, Labour’s ultimate disciplinary committee under the party’s rules and one that includes a number of members elected by party members, with independent legal advisers.
The Labour Party has been contacted for comment.
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