EHRC text describes ‘political interference’ by Corbyn’s office – but, as always, the devil is in the detail
A section of the EHRC’s report being heavily spun and exploited by opponents of the movement that galvanised under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party is that on ‘political interference’.
But while the section is phrased vaguely enough to make such spin possible, the ‘devil in the detail’ exposes the spin for what it is. Here is that section in full:
As such, we have identified two separate relevant practices or policies:
1. the overall practice or policy operating from March 2016 to May 2019, in which LOTO or the leadership was involved in ‘politically sensitive’ complaints, and
2. the specific and formal practice of referring all antisemitism complaints to LOTO in March–April 2018.
We saw political interference happening on 23 occasions in our sample of 70 cases, sometimes more than once in the same case. Of these there were:
• 8 instances between March 2016 and the start of March 2018
• 10 instances during the period when this apparently became a more
formalised policy between March and April 2018, and
• 5 instances between April 2018 and May 2019.
Both of these practices or policies fall within the definition of indirect discrimination that we explain in Chapter 2.
These practices or policies put the person making an antisemitism complaint at a disadvantage, because they gave rise to a reasonable perception of different and detrimental treatment, and a risk that their complaint would not be handled fairly, as well as actual different treatment in some cases (which was reasonably perceived to be detrimental). For example, political interference may have resulted in a complaint not being investigated because of fear of reputational damage to the Labour Party, rather than the conduct of the member complained of, or being handled more or less leniently than was justified by the facts of the case.
We received representations noting that the intervention of LOTO staff in some antisemitism cases was to press for action to be taken, and that this could not amount to a disadvantage. We accept that, in some cases, the LOTO staff interference catalysed action. However, the inappropriateness of political interference in antisemitism complaints is not necessarily about the particular outcomes that it led to, but rather the contamination (and / or the perception of contamination) of the fairness of the process.
Jewish members are proportionately more likely than non-Jewish members to make a complaint about antisemitism. Consequently, the practice of political interference in antisemitism complaints, and in ‘politically sensitive’ complaints generally, put Jewish members at a particular disadvantage compared to non-Jewish members.
55 Investigation into antisemitism in the Labour Party
For the reasons we give above, there was no good reason for LOTO staff to become involved in decision-making in antisemitism complaints, or in ‘politically sensitive’ cases, outside of the complaints process, therefore the interference was not justified.
We therefore find that the Labour Party’s practice or policy of political interference in ‘politically sensitive’ complaints between March 2016 and May 2019, and the formal practice or policy of involving LOTO in antisemitism complaints in March–April 2018, amounted to unlawful indirect discrimination against its Jewish members, contrary to section 101(2)(a) and / or (d) of the non Jewish members.
The section makes clear that:
- a big majority of the instances of ‘interference’ relates to the period before Jennie Formby took over as general secretary – a period in which the leaked Labour report has shown that cases were being delayed, diverted and ignored by members of HQ staff – forcing Corbyn’s ‘LOTO’ team to press for action
- Corbyn’s team did press for action and for governance staff to get on with their jobs – and the EHRC explicitly accepts this
- political and media pressure damaged the proper handling of cases
- the ‘interference’ led to tougher sanctions in some cases: “being handled more or less leniently”… “not necessarily about the particular outcomes that it led to”
As the EHRC report repeatedly confirms, Labour’s performance on disciplinary processes dramatically improved under Jennie Formby.
But the most explosive point is that the EHRC refers to ‘formalising’ a process of cases being referred to LOTO “between March and April 2018” – the transition period to Jennie Formby’s tenure as general secretary, when the party’s ‘Governance and Legal Unit’ (GLU) was still run by the party’s right.
And a blockbuster email from LOTO to that unit, which the EHRC report omits, shows that exactly when the policy was supposedly becoming ‘more formalised’, LOTO was in fact asking why GLU was inappropriately sending cases to Corbyn’s office when it wasn’t LOTO’s remit:
However, GLU continued sending unsolicited emails about cases over a prolonged period until directly ordered to stop doing so.
In addition, the dramatically leaked Labour report on the handling of antisemitism cases that became public earlier this year alleges that headquarters staff were deliberately delaying and obstructing the process of handling disciplinary cases, which will have led to many of the instances of LOTO pursuing GLU for speed and action, which the EHRC have classified as interference.
But as the SKWAWKBOX predicted last night and this morning, the so-called ‘mainstream’ media are not troubling themselves with facts and details when they have an opportunity to pursue the left movement that galvanised under Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party and which so threatens the Establishment.
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