Announcement Breaking

Jewish members and others file court claim against Labour for breach of EHRC principles after party tells them: ‘EHRC does not apply to you’

Group believes leadership’s conduct is unlawful and a breach of its commitment to EHRC

Seven mostly elderly members of the Labour Party have today filed a claim in the High Court after the Party’s acceptance of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report that its disciplinary process is unfair and not fit for purpose.

Labour Activists For Justice (LA4J), a group of members who say they have all been unjustly accused of undermining the party’s ability to campaign against racism, have been working for six months to persuade the party to improve its disciplinary process for the benefit of all members, but have been rejected at every approach.

Last month the EHRC report on its investigation into antisemitism in the Labour party found that the Party’s disciplinary process was not fit for purpose, and recommended that the party should put in place a new, fair and independent system.

When the EHRC report came out, the party said it would implement all the recommendations as a matter of urgency and would commission a new process.

LA4J approached the party again to ensure that investigations did not continue under the unfair process – and were told the report did not apply to them.

Instead, Labour would continue to use the same disciplinary processes that were found to be seriously unfair by the EHRC.

Today, LA4J filed a claim in the High Court through their solicitors, Bindmans LLP to ensure that the party must now address what they and the EHRC say are multiple failures in its disciplinary process.

The points made by the EHRC are almost identical to the points made by LA4J, including:

· the lack of clear guidelines on how antisemitism cases are judged – the party has now confirmed that it uses a version of its Code of Conduct to judge what is antisemitic that it will not publish or even send to people under investigation;
· withholding the identity of accusers without good reason;
· a lack of fair process for the accused;
· a failure to provide adequate reasons for the decisions made.

The members of the group, four of whom are Jewish, have all had disciplinary action taken against them and are currently under investigation over alleged rule breaches relating to antisemitism, which they strongly reject.

They know that many other members are in similar situations. They say they are making this High Court claim because the suggestion in many cases, including their own, that there is anti-Semitic content in the evidence provided by the Labour party is unfounded and offensive. The group wants a fair disciplinary process to be implemented for all Labour Party members where the criteria by which they will be judged are clear and public and the procedures are fair.

One of the group, Diana Neslen, an 81 year old Orthodox Jew said:

Throughout its history the Labour Movement 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 Labour Movement and the unions would be up in arms. It is a disgrace that needs to be fixed.

Over the last six months we have drawn the party’s attention to our concerns with several lawyer’s letters, but every time they refuse to address our arguments. The idea that the EHRC Report does not apply to us is the last straw. A legal challenge is not a road we want to go down, but they have left us no choice.

LA4J’s Crowdjustice and other funding approaches have been, and continue to be, well supported by hundreds of individual contributors, many of whom have said they have donated or pledged precisely because we are taking action on behalf of all members.

However the likely costs of the action will run to six figure sum, so LA4J invites further contributions.

The members affected are:

Diana Neslen (81) is a General Committee delegate to Ilford South CLP. She is an Orthodox Jew. She rejoined the Labour party in 2015 following the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader and is a member of Jewish Voice for Labour. She has been a long time Palestinian and antiracist activist.

In September 2018, five months after the sudden death of her husband and while undergoing cancer treatment, she received a reminder of conduct from the Labour Party detailing eleven ‘offences’ she had committed. All were social media postings related to Israel’s policies and conduct. There was no indication anywhere as to the identity of the complainants or the definition of antisemitism the Party was applying, and some of the postings predated her Labour party membership.

Although she contacted the party to discover the nature of the ‘offences’, she received no response. In May 2020, while shielding alone, she received a notice of investigation from an anonymous employee of the Labour party detailing seven items that required investigation for antisemitism. The complainants were again anonymous and the definition not based on the published code.

Although she has made contact with the party to request further information and later on to explain the proper context in which what she said must be understood, they have at no time had the courtesy to reply. It is chilling that the Labour party feels emboldened to accuse a Jewish woman of antisemitism on the basis of a hidden definition, and by its unfair processes expose the truth of the EHRC findings about its unjust complaints process.

Jonathan Rosenhead (82) is Chair of Hoxton West branch and serves on the Executive of Hackney South and Shoreditch CLP. He first joined the Labour Party in 1962 and was a Labour Parliamentary candidate in 1966; he rejoined the party in 2015.

His Notice of Investigation served in May 2020 cited as evidence

i) a speech at the February CLP meeting nominating Jo Bird for the NEC, in which his mention of her well known ‘Jew-process’ joke was allegedly a disciplinary offence;

ii) words which were incorrectly asserted to be part of his verbal evidence as a witness at Ken Livingstone’s disciplinary hearing in 2017; and

iii) an article he had written in Open Democracy in October 2017 describing the launch meeting of Jewish Voice for Labour (but which of the 3000 words were problematic was not specified). His conduct is being judged on the basis of an unpublished version of the code.

Michael Ellman (83) is Auditor of Junction Ward branch of Islington North CLP. He is a practising Jew. He joined the Labour Party in 1980, re-joined in 2015 and is a solicitor and former Vice-President of FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights), who has fought for human rights and against racism all his life.

Ellman proposed a motion in August 2020 to an internal branch meeting to reconsider the IHRA definition of antisemitism because it might stifle legitimate political debate, and to substitute the Oxford English Dictionary definition. The motion was leaked to the press by an unknown person and he was immediately suspended from the party for ‘conduct grossly prejudicial to the party’ following a complaint by an unknown person.

Mike Howard (68) Member of Hastings & Rye CLP. Active Labour Party member for over thirty-five years, holding office in six CLP’s during this time. Twice elected Hastings Borough Councillor. Retired (former office-holding) Unison life member. Unite Community, JVL and PSC. He is a Jewish, lifelong anti-racist whose family escaped the murderous pogroms in pre-war Russia/Poland and fought the fascists in their East London neighbourhood. Mike has suffered real anti-semitism, and finds it completely unacceptable that Labour Party HQ, knowing that he is Jewish, has not responded to his solicitors’ request to drop an anonymous complainant’s accusations of anti-semitism against him which is based on the process the EHRC found was unfair and based on a code the Party will not publish.

John Davies (66) Former Chair, St Michael’s Branch, Liverpool Riverside CLP. Member since 2015. He is accused of 7 instances of hostility or prejudice based on race or religion. The instances are mostly re-posts of material posted by others, including a former Israeli minister and a Palestinian doctor, and the charges are based on definitions of antisemitism in a version of an antisemitism code of conduct that the Labour Party will not publish. Mr Davies has been an active anti-racist all his life, and denies all the charges.

Colin O’Driscoll (60) Vice Chair Labour International CLP (Labour Party’s International Section). First joined the Labour Party in 1978, rejoined in 2015 (pre-Corbyn). He is accused on the basis of social media posts of ]various instances of misconduct. The complaint was made some time before May 2020, by a person or persons unknown. The charges were laid in 2020 as part of an express expulsion procedure. He strongly denies the charges, which again are based on an antisemitism code of conduct that the Labour Party will not publish.

Chris Wallis (71) Vice Chair Hazel Grove CLP (near Stockport) . Member since 2015 (pre-Corbyn). He is accused of 5 instances of conduct prejudicial or grossly detrimental to the party relating to racism, and in particular antisemitism. The complaint was made in December 2019 by persons unknown, but the charges were not laid till June 2020, and only then after he had requested an update from the Party as he was about to be Acting Chair of his CLP. He rejects the charges absolutely, which again are based on a version of an antisemitism code of conduct that the Labour Party will not publish.

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29 comments

  1. I’ll gladly donate as generously as I possibly can, but this time I’ll do it progressively.
    Too easy for Starmer to delay proceedings legally or with concessions.
    What’s happening with Jeremy’s action – anyone know if there’s crowdfunding for that yet?

    1. I will also donate. The are many members such as myself who were treated or rather mistreated by the Party in the same way as those taking part in the action.

      1. Chris Williamson will be adding more, financed by the Left Legal Fighting Fund.

  2. This should be read in conjunction with Mike Cushman’s article, “Don’t consign Labour Party democracy to the history books”, also on the Jewish Voice for Labour website.

    1. Yes, it is WE who make the party. No point giving up to Starmer. Have wronged groups of members taken legal action before?
      This new fighting spirit is worth it for self-respect alone, plus showing the Right Wing that enough is enough!!! Has any Labour leader been sued before???
      We need more “Motions of Confidence” to vote down. And “No Confidence Motions” to vote yes! AND at the same time take legal action against Starmer and Evans
      🌹🌹🌹

  3. Once again the second rate lawyer doesn’t understand due process, it appears.

      1. As iain dummkopf schmitt was lenient** enough to label him, yes.

  4. David Renton is a specialist discrimination barrister explains in this article why Starmer could be up the creek without a paddle in withdrawing the whip from Corbyn.
    First, because it is contrary to natural justice to investigate people twice for the same offence. This was why Chris Williamson won the first part of his case: “In my judgment,” wrote Mr Justice Pepperall, “ fairness to a member requires that, where the Party communicates an apparently final panel decision in unequivocal terms concluding a disciplinary case … the Party should not itself reopen the case.”.
    Second, because the rules the whips are claiming Corbyn has broken are ones only the NEC, not the leadership or whips, can investigate., Third, this is how rules work in law: a general power cannot be used to override a specific one. In other words, if two bodies within one organisation both have the power to discipline, and one has it in general terms (ie it can investigate anything) while the other has the power to investigate a specific misdemeanour, it is the latter which investigates the complaint.
    In short, if the leadership had wanted to remove the whip from Jeremy Corbyn for allegations that had not already been investigated by the NEC, it might be in an arguable position now. If Starmer and Evans had wanted to remove the whip from Corbyn for matters unrelated to the NEC code, their decision might stand up in court. Were it not for the findings of the EHRC, the leadership might conceivably have a case.
    But fitting all these together, if the case does come before the High Court, it is hard to see how the decision could possibly be upheld.
    David Renton is a specialist discrimination barrister. He is currently writing Labour’s Antisemitism Crisis:

    1. Yes fine words by the legal profession,but remember that Chris Williamson lost the job he loved and the means to earn a good living,and was eventually ignored by the people he was defendin and sacrificed all for what? A Labour party that has grown so corrupted and institutionalized that it doesn’t even recognise basic human rights of its members.

    2. Thank you for this excellent post Harry Law which really clarifies the legal position

  5. As far as I can recall the party has been given six weeks to reply to the EHRC with guarantees of changing the way the party deals with accusations of racism and antisemitism.
    Surely they can’t get away with claiming they are going to adopt every one of the panels recommendations then decide who’s deserving and who isn’t of these new rules.

  6. No court is going to countenance their secret, undisclosed rulings, given by person or persons unknown.

    Time to ‘fess up, and go Starmer and Evans.

    How wonderful that a former DPP could be thrown out of office by …. not upholding the law!

    1. Joe – “How wonderful that a former DPP could be thrown out of office …. by not upholding the law!”

      Unbearably wonderful!!! Joe. And could you imagine, banned from the Bar!!! Banned + fined £ 6 million AND jailed for 6 years + 66 extra months for disgracing a name + 666 extra days just for polluting the planet with gel. Not a minute less🌹🌹🌹

  7. Forensic Sturmbannfuhrer Schtarmer has certainly got his briefs in a twist. Who’d have thought it?

  8. Starmer and evens are the real Antisemites where is the outrage from hodge/ellman steeth ect and their lap dogs Tory lord mann/streeting/raynor/ kinnock and the corrupt B.o.D and the rest of the Scum mp.s that are not fit to wipe these decent peoples fucking arses, sorry forgot they are not the rite JEW

    1. Exactly Brian61. Because the could not give a flying fox about anti-Semitism. They r the nastiest wickedest rudest most obnoxious people u will ever meet anytime anywhere🔴 sorry to mince my words.

  9. Holy fuckin shit the Sir Kieth party now dictating whom the ehrc applies to or not , funkin nuts .
    You know what this makes my blood boil , we shouldn’t be bloody discussing or debating in our CLPS what we can and can’t debate and say , who we can talk about or not , we should be outside Sir Keith’s office , the party LOTO offices and demonstrating / protesting in our 1000s . Come on Momentum get up off your arse and organise us , we voted for the new radical leadership , get on with it !

  10. I made a complaint 19 months ago and a short time later added some further comments to my complaint, both were acknowledged, nothing has happened, this is a disgraceful state of affairs, could it be that only the BoD, JLM and CAA have priority access to the complaints procedure? Here is my complaint……..

    “I made a complaint online to you on 6th June 2019 about Mr Tony Blair calling Mr Jeremy Corbyn “an Anti-Semite”. I did receive an acknowledgement which said the complaint would be sent to the relevant department, could I add these observations to my complaint.

    During an interview at Bar Ilan university in Israel on 4th June 2019 Mr Tony Blair made a factually false allegation of Anti-Semitism against Jeremy Corbyn. When answering a question… “if he believed Corbyn himself was Anti-Semitic, Mr Blair said yes” Mr Blair did not refer to any specific allegation of Anti-Semitism against Mr Corbyn.

    A gratuitous and false accusation such as this without providing evidence is a grave breach of an ordinary person’s rights and does bring the Labour party into disrepute in breach of its own rules, it could also ostracize that person from society for life, in the case of Mr Corbyn a life time believer in anti-racism he could be forced out of his leadership and the country deprived of a Labour government, so the stakes are extremely high.

    Could Blair’s false allegation have any effect on Labour Party members or the average voter? Of course it could, because Mr Blair has a very high profile and having served as leader and Prime Minister of the Labour party for 13 years and Envoy to the Middle East quartet for many years, his views have enormous credibility, plus he is a lawyer, so he should know his words have consequences.

    Would the average voter believe Mr Blair? Yes, because of his high profile and credibility over many years people are inclined to say, why would Mr Blair tell lies? What could he possibly gain? Obviously nothing, so people would tend to believe him. Could you expedite this matter as soon as possible”. Thank you.

    Harry Law.

    1. Looking at the entrance to the high court in London brings back painful memorys of hope and thouands upon thousands of money thrown away to Lawyers,Barristers and QCs.Even the win was inconclusive and left a feeling of of loss.I hope they succeed and I commend their bravery and hope they realise that they are in the heart of the establishment when you walk throgh them doors.IF the former leader of the Labour party and concentrated on being in charge and in control we would not have to rely upon members being forced into the heart and soul of the establishment to please for justice from the establishment system itself…Anger and sadness that is all I feel when ordinary people have to face the prospect of a London high court to sort out the democratic socialist Labour party..I thank god daily that I know longer have to face the prospect of a London commute of tube station and trains into the heart of the enemy the establishment system..Just facing the lofty judges and their conceit is enough to give any person a heart attack without even watching the money gobbled up and spat out usually with a language that needs a seasoned professional to translate into legible English.good luck and power to your elbow and pray the money comes in.?

  11. Talk is cheap!!! Time to put your money where your mouth is & donate whatever you can afford in support of what you believe……SOLIDARITY!

    Time to trust in the legal system……….we shall see?

  12. Shit, I could have sworn this was Keith! Keith! Keith! Keith!
    I like the shark one even better I think.

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