Merseyside activist expelled after political humiliation of Starmer – but party claimed she had been expelled six months earlier but that it had forgotten to tell her
In late July, Liverpool left activist Audrey White went viral when she was filmed giving an immobile Keir Starmer several hefty pieces of her mind in a city restaurant.
In an attempt to discredit white for Starmer’s political humiliation, right-wing hack Lee Harpin falsely claimed White had already been expelled by the party and implied it was for antisemitism. The claim was entirely false – White had not been expelled and an administrative suspension by the party was exclusively for being interviewed by Socialist Appeal long before the party had ‘proscribed’ that organisation.
As White consulted lawyers, the party’s right-wing regime seemed to want to bail out Harpin from his defamation of Ms White – and the ‘Governance and Legal Unit’ (GLU) wrote to her claiming she had been expelled from the party in early February, almost six months earlier – but that it had forgotten to tell her. Below, is a copy of a letter sent by White’s lawyer to the party and analysis by a lawyer of the situation and the party’s excuses.
The letter reveals that:
- the party had ignored White’s demand for compensation for its smears and leaks to right-wing press
- the party’s ridiculous claim to have forgotten to inform White of her suspension leaves only two options: either the party was so negligent that White has a clear claim for compensation; or the party has maliciously defamed and damaged her and she has a clear claim for legal remedy
- the regime’s latest leak to Harpin – who has already cost a former employer heavy damages payments to Audrey White for at least four separate libels – is just one in a series of similar malicious briefings and data breaches
- Labour dragged out its process against White for more than a year, ignoring her and her lawyers’ communications and often failing even to acknowledge them
- White does not intend to ‘appeal’ the ‘patently corrupt’ expulsion; instead, she has demanded reinstatement and a full public apology from the party – and has reserved her right to take legal action if it fails to comply
The following analysis was written by an experienced lawyer on condition of anonymity:
Audrey White is a campaigning socialist and feminist from Liverpool. She is well-known in Labour circles as a former manager of a fashion store in the city, who in 1983 fought a highly effective campaign against sexual harassment in the workplace. In 2017 Audrey was acclaimed as one of the TUC’s 150 heroes and heroines of the Trade Union movement; and has been nominated by TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady, speaking on BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme, as one of the UK’s five most influential women in challenging sexual inequality and sexual harassment.
By strange co-incidence, the Labour party’s expulsion letter arrived just three days after Audrey had addressed a very public reprimand to a stony-faced Keir Starmer in a café in Liverpool for causing deep offence to the people of Liverpool by writing a column for the S*n newspaper – and casually jettisoning the socialist policy pledges he had made during his leadership campaign in Spring 2020.
The GLU’s case against Audrey goes back more than 18 months, and reached its disgraceful conclusion just days after the long-awaited publication of Martin Forde QC’s report into the workings of the Labour Party. Highly relevant is Forde’s hard-hitting section on the Party’s (mis)management of its disciplinary processes, in which he sternly criticises:
– successive systems procedure [being] unfit for purpose and susceptible to factional interference and manipulation;
– the continued use of administrative suspension for prolonged periods; and
– administrative suspension used purely for factional advantage
Audrey’s case is an outstanding example of the incompetent and prejudicial case management Forde was referring to. If the case – her expulsion for association with a group that she could legitimately associate with at the time she did it – seems confusing and nonsensical, I would like you to imagine that:
– a tennis club has a rule that members may only smoke in the so-called “Rear Garden”
– On 30 June 2021 the club changes the rule to prohibit smoking altogether on the club’s premises
– On 25 July 2021 the club decides to expel member Mr S for smoking in the Rear Garden on 31 March, three months before the rule change came into force
– It turns out that as well as being an occasional smoker, Mr S has been a vocal critic of the club’s poor track record in promoting outreach to local state schools; its elitism; and its sycophantic cultivation of wealthy benefactors
Against that background, the Club’s action against Mr S appears not only to be legally illogical and nonsensical, but also malicious and vindictive.
So it is with the Labour Party’s treatment of Audrey, whose offence is not being an occasional smoker, but a vocal critic of the current leadership. Instead of taking responsibility for its own original case, the GLU preferred to scrabble around the internet in search of trivia, desperate to find any pretext for the summary expulsion of a long-standing member and courageous and popular activist.
Still undeterred, Audrey responded on 31 January with a detailed defence to the new charge, explaining the patently unlawful and illogical nature of her anticipated “retrospective exclusion”. There then followed another half-year of silence. Now the party wants people to believe that on or around 29 July – just after Audrey’s encounter with Starmer – the GLU’s case manager reviewed the file and just happened to notice that Audrey hadn’t been informed of her expulsion back in February. Make of that what you will.
As soon as the Forde Report was published on 19 July, prominent NEC member Luke Akehurst tweeted rather indignantly that “the new disciplinary process is working well”. Audrey’s case demonstrates that the opposite is true – as her own lawyer has said, the GLU’s conduct of it stinks of bad faith, with scant regard for even the most basic standards to be expected of any professional organisation.
The simple truth is that the so-called “Governance and Legal Unit” is a million miles from the professionally independent “civil service” that Martin Forde advises it ought to be. The GLU brings Labour into disrepute.
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