Unique window on disciplinary process gives damning view on actions of Labour hierarchy – condemning ‘deliberate political interference’ and making clear Corbyn was reinstated on independent legal advice
Fourteen members of Labour’s 39-member National Executive Committee (NEC) have written a damning and explosive letter to Labour general secretary David Evans about the conduct of party leader Keir Starmer – one that blows open the opaque events of this week surrounding Jeremy Corbyn’s reinstatement.
- condemns the ‘double jeopardy’ and ‘deliberate political interference’ of withdrawing the whip from Corbyn after he was reinstated by an NEC panel
- makes clear that the decision of the panel was based on independent legal advice and the recommendation of Labour’s disciplinary investigative unit
- implies that their advice was that there were no valid grounds for Corbyn’s suspension
- confirms that the whip had been restored to Corbyn on the lifting of his suspension, making an utter mockery of Starmer’s excuse that he was ‘not restoring’ the whip rather than withdrawing it
- makes clear that the meddling in the disciplinary outcome is exactly that kind of ‘political interference’ the EHRC has ruled unlawful
- accuses Starmer and other right-wing MPs of smearing the NEC panel members who acted in accordance with the party’s rules and the legal advice they gave
- says that Starmer has put NEC members in a legal bind – and that as a highly-qualified barrister he has no excuse for his ‘unconscionable’ choice
- demands that Evans rebuke Starmer for his political interference in party processes and undermining public confidence in Labour’s disciplinary process
- ‘requires’ Evans to immediately ‘demand’ that Starmer upholds the NEC panel’s decision and restores the whip to Corbyn
It could scarcely be more explosive:
On Tuesday 17th November a Disputes Panel of the NEC sat to consider current discipline cases one of which was the complaint against Jeremy Corbyn MP. The Panel after many hours of consideration and deliberation, including advice and guidance on process from the Head of Disputes in GLU and an independent Barrister provided by the party, established that there had been no breach of Labour Party rules. As such the Panel determined that Jeremy Corbyn’s suspension should be lifted.
As with all other cases considered by the Dispute Panels, as soon as the panel’s decisions have been ratified as per the agreed process, Jeremy Corbyn’s suspension was required to be immediately lifted. Any consequence of the suspension, namely the suspension of the whip, was of course to immediately fall away as a consequence of the NEC panel decision.
The decision of the Leader the following day to withhold the whip from Jeremy Corbyn MP is an act of deliberate political interference in the handling of a complaint. It defies the decision of the NEC panel, is a matter of double jeopardy that flies in the face of natural justice, it undermines the Rule Book and it is precisely the type of action found to be unlawful indirect discrimination by the EHRC report.
We would remind the leadership that the political interference criticised by the EHRC included interference intended to speed up the disciplinary process.
The Leader of the party in addition made commentary that the Jewish community have no faith in the process of the Dispute’s panel. Although intended to be a damning comment on the Dispute’s process generally it is of course a direct criticism of the decision reached by the Dispute’s Panel on Tuesday. This criticism has been joined by other MPs, no doubt following the lead of the Leader.
Neither the Party nor the Leader have made clear that the Disputes Panel in question received legal advice on the day and as is the norm that includes a recommendation from the GLU staff, in particular the Head of Legal appointed by the Leader as to the sanction that should be awarded.
This is an unacceptable attack on the lay volunteers elected to uphold the Rule Book, it is direct political interference and it is unacceptable.
We understand that the Party will now face legal action as a result of the decision of the Leader to undermine the disciplinary processes. This will inevitably mean that members of the panel are asked to give evidence in a Court of law. It is unconscionable, given that the Leader is Queens Counsel and must have read and digested the EHRC report, that members of the NEC should be placed in this position by his actions.
As members of the NEC with responsibility to uphold the Rule Book we require confirmation that the General Secretary will now write to the Leader of the Party to admonish him for interfering in the NEC processes, for levelling public criticism intended to undermine confidence in the dispute process and for taking a decision that is directly contradictory to the NEC Panel decision. The General Secretary must demand that the Leader upholds the decision of the Dispute’s panel and immediately reinstates the whip to Jeremy Corbyn MP.
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