JUSTICE FOR ALL LABOUR PARTY MEMBERS

by Labour Activists 4 Justice

JUSTICE FOR ALL LABOUR PARTY MEMBERS

by Labour Activists 4 Justice
Labour Activists 4 Justice
Case Owner
We are a group of Labour Party members who have been caught up in the absurdities of Labour’s disciplinary processes who want to see them changed. Our aim is justice for all members.
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Labour Activists 4 Justice
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We are a group of Labour Party members who have been caught up in the absurdities of Labour’s disciplinary processes who want to see them changed. Our aim is justice for all members.
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Latest: July 13, 2021

Update on costs

The hearing on costs was held on Monday 12th July.

The costs were fixed in a summary assessment at £110k, the judge refusing our request for a detailed assessment.  This is 70% of the costs…

Read more

We are Labour Activists for Justice (LA4J) – a group of Labour Party members who have been caught up in the absurdities of Labour’s disciplinary processes. These processes are unjust and unfair, and we intend to use the law to get them changed. We have started the action, but we need your help to be able to complete it.

Complaints need to be taken seriously, but they also need to be handled through a fair and transparent process. The Party’s disciplinary processes are currently neither fair nor transparent, and are manifestly unjust, and they are harming our lives and the lives of many others.

One member of the group says:

‘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 Labour 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 engaged Bindmans LLP as our lawyers. Their letters to the Party pointing out these failures have received no response to date. We have taken further advice and feel we have no choice but to rely on the law for a remedy.

At the moment, people who are accused are not told who has complained about them, nor who is investigating them. Anonymous officials send them batches of ‘evidence’ (things they are supposed to have written or said), and a list of party rules they are accused of breaking, but with no link between the charges and the evidence. They are then asked to explain why the evidence supports the charges, in effect incriminating themselves.

They are not told who their ‘judges’ will be, or whether they have a right to a hearing. They certainly won’t have an opportunity to question witnesses.

The Party is aware of the likely impact of these procedures on their targets. They advise them that they might need to talk to their GP, or the Samaritans. But they are expressly forbidden to talk to anyone else – on pain of facing another disciplinary charge.

The Labour Party disciplinary process has many deficiencies. Just some of those that we will be challenging are

  • the policy of refusing to identify who has complained, so their possible motives for complaining cannot be assessed
  • the lack of clear specific charges explained with reference to evidence, and a process that requires members to self-incriminate
  • the legitimacy and legality of citing consensual private conversations as evidence
  • the practice of trawling for evidence through historical communications that predate the rule under which the member is being charged
  • the failure to take action to prevent or punish the routine leaks about cases to media outlets.

The Labour Party’s record on natural justice is at best chequered, but this has been a particularly dark chapter. Help us to end it by contributing to take this major legal case forward. Our aim is justice for all members.

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Update 21

Labour Activists 4 Justice

July 13, 2021

Update on costs

The hearing on costs was held on Monday 12th July.

The costs were fixed in a summary assessment at £110k, the judge refusing our request for a detailed assessment.  This is 70% of the costs claimed by the Labour Party; at the preliminary hearing - when we won - the summary assessment awarded us half of our costs only.  Moreover, our legal team had incurred approximately half of the Party’s costs during the same period.   

 

There was one comfort in that the Judge  did not pick up on the Labour Party’s attempt to yet again to treat the claimants as disreputable rebels.  We are being treated as the enemy of the Party, not members seeking to save the party by achieving procedural fairness and improved disciplinary systems.  The Party had attempted to swing the case against us because the LA4J group were continuing to crowdfund and to show concern for injustices!   So we are broke but continue to challenge them!  

 And materially Justice Butcher rejected the Party’s request for a fourteen day payment period. We asked for 28 days; he ordered payment within 21 days. 


So we still have an urgent need for funding to pay these costs. Please donate if you can and share widely.

Update 20

Labour Activists 4 Justice

July 9, 2021

Labour Party wins: all members lose

We have now received the judgement on our case. It was extremely disappointing; the court relied on the facts as presented by the Labour Party, largely ignoring or dismissing our evidence to the contrary.  However, the judgment is not the whole story and the proceedings have achieved some significant successes.


To recap from our previous post, we asked the judge to rule on three issues:


  • The applicants were judged by the Party using an unpublished code of conduct.  It was unfair to judge people according to a code they had not seen.
  • The EHRC had condemned the disciplinary system and suggested it was unfair.  The party had accepted the findings and agreed to implement all the changes identified.  Since these had not as yet been implemented, it was unfair for the claimants to be judged under a system condemned by the EHRC. People will remember that the EHRC found that respondents received particularly unfair treatment. 
  • The confidentiality clause was unfair to the claimants in that it prevented them from getting support and advising colleagues as to their situation.

All three claims were dismissed, meaning that the Court ruled against us on all three issues.

These are the positive outcomes to the entire proceedings:

  • The first is that the Labour Party published the NEC Code of Conduct on Antisemitism in March 2021 as part of its Rule Book. This Code had been put forward in 2018 by Corbyn when he was Leader and aroused so much antagonism at the time, that the Party claimed that the reason it was not publicly available was because doing so would have been ‘incendiary’. So our case has forced the Labour Party to be transparent in making clear the guidance it uses in adjudicating on accusations of antisemitism.  And this demonstrated the hypocrisy of those who condemned the Code when published under Corbyn, but accepted it without a word of opposition under Starmer.
  • The second positive is about confidentiality. We know that members have been stifled by this issue, with some feeling that they cannot even explain to their local CLP or their partners why they have been suspended, for fear or provoking further disciplinary action against them. In effect the Court determined that the confidentiality provisions in the Notices of Investigation do not have contractual backing: they are simply requests for confidentiality.  Any sharing of information about disciplinary processes should therefore only be subject to disciplinary proceedings if the disclosure breaches specific rules in the Rule Book. This is an important finding because it means that members subject to disciplinary proceedings can talk about them and provided they do not fall foul of other clauses in the Rule Book, make their cases public. Also the NEC proposed at its June meeting the creation of a ‘Code of Conduct on Confidentiality and Privacy’, to be finalised at the body’s next full meeting. This looks to be a direct consequence of our case. 
  • Thirdly, of the original thirteen claimants, the party backed down by ending its disciplinary actions against five of them before the preliminary hearing and all were cleared of having committed any offence. This included several claimants who had been suspended for several years without any information as to the charges against them.


It is noteworthy too that the judgement handed down by the court confirmed the EHRC’s view that improvements had been made to the complaints procedures in the period of Corbyn’s leadership.

The Court confirms, as expressed in the judgement, that Labour Party is effectively a member’s club and that members have a contractual relationship with the Labour Party and the Rule Book forms the basis of this contract. We think that Labour Party members are entitled to feel that their membership goes beyond the type of relationship that an individual would have with say, a tennis club or a charity, given the Party’s collectivist, democratic roots. Indeed the Party is constantly making demands for support from activists, while arguing in Court it should be free to treat its members how it pleases without oversight and interference This leads us to conclude that the Party may have won its case against us, but if it carries on treating its members this way, it will have lost its future.

As Diana Neslen says: “I think it’s a pyrrhic victory because it shows the Labour Party has learned nothing on how to treat its members.

In the end we keep on fighting and hopefully the wind will change.”


Costs were awarded against us so we need to continue to ask for substantial donations to pay for the claimants' liabilities for those costs. Furthermore, the 'cancellation', as the Labour Party calls it, of Colin O'Driscoll's party membership raises other serious issues concerning the Labour party's treatment of its membership. Therefore we want to also crowd fund to pursue these specific issues going forward, including misuse of the fast-track procedure.

Please give generously if you can and share widely!

Read more about the case in this article: https://ammarkazmi.uk/labour-on-trial-the-slow-death-of-blairism-5168f15f0609


Update 19

Labour Activists 4 Justice

June 22, 2021

FULL COURT REPORT

We had our day in court on Thursday 17th June and are  now awaiting judgement. What follows is our Full Court report. There are 3 Declarations.

Declaration 1: Code of Conduct

The claimants asked that the court make a declaration with respect to the NEC Code of Conduct on Antisemitism (the Unpublished Code) namely that the party has breached the express and implied terms of fairness in its contract (against two of the claimants) by failing to disclose—and then later relying on—the Unpublished Code, which the claimants did not know was being applied to them.

This declaration had been sought for all eight claimants originally, after the Party repeatedly refused to disclose the Code in correspondence.  However, the Party did not publish it until the end of March and then only allowed six of the claimants to make new representations.  By that time two of the claimants’ cases had been concluded with sanctions applied, and those two claimants were denied their request for their cases to be reopened to make submissions on the Code.

LA4J consider that it is only fair and just for those accused of misconduct to know the criteria by which they are judged so they can mount their defence.  The absence of such criteria means the individual is effectively navigating treacherous waters without a compass.

In these cases the accusations were of antisemitism.   These are profoundly serious and painful allegations.   Diana Neslen’s immediate family has experienced violent antisemitism historically and recently.  Colin O’Driscoll has called out antisemitism in his Constituency Labour Party and fought against all forms of racism.  As well as the sanctions imposed on both of them by the Labour Party there is a serious risk of personal, professional and reputational damage as a result of these allegations.

Rachel Crasnow QC, the Labour Party barrister, asserted that knowledge of the Unpublished Code would not have made any difference to the claimants’ representations. because the respondents were able to make ‘meaningful responses’ without the Code.  She referred to the ‘draft charges’ based on the code but not the context of these charges, which sets out in detail what the Party considers to be, and even more importantly not to be, antisemitic conduct. 

Why, if the party believes that there is no benefit to a claimant’s defence to know the Code, have they now published it and allowed those whose claims are yet to be settled to make new or revised representations using the Code but not the claimants whose cases have already been closed?


Declaration 2: EHRC

Immediately after the EHRC Report was published, the Party stated that they accepted all the findings of the EHRC report without reservation, they committed to following all the recommendations and to having processes that remedied existing processes. Their Action Plan sets out concrete steps and a timetable, making clear its intention to deal with existing cases by a modified and more fair system.

Starmer himself issued a public statement in October 2020: “The report’s findings are clear and stark… they leave no room for equivocation. …The report finds… an inadequate process for handling complaints of antisemitism… The Labour Party I lead accepts this report in full and without qualification. We will implement all the recommendations and we will implement them in full. That process starts today.”

We would expect – after declaring its intention to implement all the recommendations of the EHRC report in full, to great public fanfare - that the LP would be doing all it could to demonstrate that it was doing so.  However, when the unfairness to respondents was pointed out to them last November, the Party denied either such unfairness existed at all, or that it was relevant to the claimants.

The Party maintained this position in Court, claiming that none of the deficiencies identified by EHRC amount to unfair processes for respondents and any unfairness found predated our cases and had been remedied by the time of the EHRC Report! It is astounding to suggest – as the Party’s Barrister has - that the full acceptance of the EHRC report related only to those parts of the report criticising the lack of independence in the process. This ignores the findings of the EHRC report that the LP disciplinary processes failed to comply with natural justice in several crucial respects including to the particular disadvantage of respondents.

Our case is that, given those commitments, it is procedurally unfair to continue to use old discredited processes to discipline claimants and a declaration from the Court is sought accordingly.


Declaration 3: Confidentiality

Our case is that the confidentiality provision in Notices Of Investigation (NOIs) sent to those being investigated – materially misstates and exaggerates members’ obligations under threat of sanction. There is a total mismatch between confidentiality as set out in the rules, which provides for the Party to treat members fairly and, in good faith - and the warning given, on pain of penalty, in the NOIs.

And it seems that there is a level of duplicity, since members can be disciplined punitively following an accusation of antisemitism if they tell anyone, but no such expectation appears to exist of those within the LP, which is the source of regular leaks to the press regarding the disciplinary process.

The Party’s response is that their warning in the NOI doesn’t purport to be a reflection of the rules on confidentiality, just a request to keep details of the process confidential, going beyond any actual obligation. They say that the clause is there in the NOI to deter members from leaking information for political purposes - and they do benevolently set out the support available while being investigated and offer sources of support for well-being.

Of course, they say, the warning doesn’t ban the accused from talking to anyone – as shown by them not imposing additional charges on our claimants for talking to our legal team. So, according to the Labour Party, it obviously hasn’t prevented us from sharing information with lawyers and on our fundraising sites and released videos on YouTube. This apparently rebuts any suggestion that the confidentiality warning has any gagging effect.

This ignores the fact that our claimants considered  they were taking a risk even in just talking to a lawyer.   And it totally ignores the harm it has caused, eg one claimant not being able to explain why he had relinquished his LP position or being able to respond to allegations in the national press about antisemitism. Another claimant could divulge he had been expelled but not why. Some members in receipt of NOIs are fearful of sharing even with their own partner, their closest family, even the Samaritans and the CAB due to the threatening wording of the NOI.


Conclusion

These are multiple violations of natural justice and due process.

Interestingly, Ms Crasnow  put in a plea to the Judge to defer judgement until after the Batley & Spen by-election on 1st July. The Party claim was that as George Galloway is standing and fighting the seat on how the LP is dealing with Palestine and AS, a judgement in our case prior to this could have an impact on their campaigning due to this being a period of sensitivity in the constituency.

The judge made clear that judgment was unlikely to be delivered before 1st July in any event.  We therefore await his judgment.

This will include a judgement on costs. We do have further legal bills to pay, so any donations that you can make will be very welcome. And please share widely.


Update 18

Labour Activists 4 Justice

June 10, 2021

LABOUR DISCIPLINARY PROCESS FINALLY BEING HELD TO ACCOUNT

LABOUR ACTIVISTS FOR JUSTICE (LA4J) WILL HAVE OUR DAY IN COURT

The Labour Party will be in the High Court again next week (17/18 June 2021) to defend their disciplinary process against our claim , Labour Activists For Justice (LA4J) and two other members supported by the Left Legal Fighting Fund, that the process is unfair and therefore in breach of contract.

The Labour Party are pursuing this case, and continuing to spend their members’ money in doing so.  This is despite the fact that they accepted in full the EHRC report’s findings that the Party’s system for investigating antisemitism was procedurally unfair. They very publicly announced that they were taking urgent steps to put in place a new independent system that would correct the substantive unfairness found by EHRC.

We asked the Party, in the light of the EHRC report, to stop its disciplinary action against us until the new – fairer - procedure is in place, but the Party has refused. We Claimants, including three Jews, are all accused of antisemitic conduct, and are seeking to be tried by a fair process. We all vociferously deny the charges.

At a Case Management Hearing in the High Court in March – which the Party lost - it was confirmed that the Party were using a secret – unpublished – code to judge antisemitism complaints.  This had not been published - on its own admission - because its contents were thought to be ‘politically incendiary’. Around a month after the Hearing they went ahead and published it on their website despite having refused to do so for the nine months previous

Publication of the code enables any accused person to render a defence based on a known set of criteria, but only those whose cases were yet to be concluded at the time of publication.  Those who had been sanctioned before that publication were denied the opportunity to defend themselves based on the Code, which recognises the importance of freedom of speech within the Labour Party. This has had an impact on two of the LA4J claimants.  They were not able to use the code in their defence and believe that this had adverse effects on the sanctions they have received.

LA4J also claim that the Party’s confidentiality requirement that accused members may not tell anyone other than their GP or the Samaritans about even the fact of any accusation, is draconian and unfair. The Party deny this, and cite as evidence that the LA4J group were able to go to lawyers to get advice, although we only did so while mindful of the risk of further disciplinary action against us.  Moreover, other members will not necessarily know that they have that option or may not be able to afford to do so and therefore will be denied support.

The rulebook states that: “Members have the right to dignity and respect and to be treated fairly by the Labour Party”. We are fighting for that right for all members.

The case is to be heard next week (17th or 18th June) and has been very costly. Many thanks to all who have donated so generously. However we still need more funds.

So please make a donation now if you can - and please share on all your social media platforms





Update 17

Labour Activists 4 Justice

April 13, 2021

More on that Unpublished Code

The previous two updates have given some information about the unpublished Code of Conduct (the Code)  that the Labour Party has apparently been secretly using  for its disciplinary cases concerning allegations of antisemitism.  We only know for sure about this from early 2020 when ’draft charges’ based on the Code appeared in notices of investigation.

Now, under pressure of our impending court case, the Party has been forced to re-release it to public view. It can now be found on the Labour Party website, under the complaints procedure - follow the link below.

The Code was created by an NEC working party chaired by Gordon Nardell, and approved by the whole NEC. It was thought to have been abandoned once the full IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism (WDA) was adopted in 2018 by the NEC – under pressure from pro-Israel lobby groups: the Board of Deputies, Jewish Labour Movement, Campaign Against Antisemitism etc who had publicly accused the Code - and Corbyn, who was blamed for it - of being antisemitic. However, it turns out that, as was advised by IHRA author Kenneth Stern, legal advisers and House of Commons Select Committee, the IHRA WDA is not fit to be used in any disciplinary processes. So this Code was kept ‘for consultation’ and has been used to interpret the IHRA for disciplinary purposes ever since. As stated in a previous update, there has been a deafening silence from those same lobby groups regarding the Code’s re-emergence under Starmer. Labour officials will be relieved about this silence – in submissions to the High Court the Party’s lawyers claimed the Code’s continued use was kept secret because it was regarded internally as ‘incendiary’.

So why does it matter that this unpublished code has been used for at least a year in disciplinary cases involving allegations of antisemitism? 

It demonstrates that Labour is failing to follow transparent and fair disciplinary procedures when it investigates members accused of antisemitism. (Those investigated for alleged antisemitism include some thirty Jews).

The code has been used to provide these so-called ‘draft charges’ to LA4J and other members under investigation, but because it was being applied in secret, the accused could not access the context in which they were being applied. This means they had no way of knowing if the charges were being applied correctly, or be able to use the Code as a basis for their responses to these allegations.

It is now clear that in constructing charges, the Code has been applied incorrectly in many cases, resulting in members being wrongly accused and even expelled from the Party, without being able to challenge them.

This revelation might help some of the LA4J members to reassess their cases, but in addition we believe that the logic is  that everyone still subject to investigation can make submissions on the Code (if relevant) and everyone sanctioned since 2018 could ask for their investigations to be reopened in light of the Code (if it is relevant to their investigations).

At the preliminary hearing last month, the judge threw out the Party’s arguments that the case had no substance. We believe that this Code would have remained unpublished if it were not for the fact that its secret application was part of the LA4J court case. 

LA4J are seeking transparent and fair processes for ALL Labour Party members. 

Fighting a legal case is extremely costly. Please donate towards the continuation of our case if you can, and please share widely.

Follow the link below to find the newly published Code, which starts on page15:

NEC Code of Conduct: Antisemitism

Introduction 

Para 1. Clause 2.I.8 of the Party’s Rule Book contains the basic conduct rules applicable to all Party members:

There are 16 paragraphs. 

https://labour.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Labour-Party-Complaint-Handling-Handbook-2.pdf

Update 16

Labour Activists 4 Justice

April 9, 2021

THE DEAFENING SILENCE OF THE BOARD OF DEPUTIES

As stated in previous update, the Labour Party re-released its Code of Practice on antisemitism last week. Noisily and vociferously described as antisemitic when first issued, the reception this time has been deafeningly silent.

 In 2018 when the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn issued its antisemitism Code of Practice, the Code – and Corbyn - were immediately characterised as antisemitic by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Community Security Trust, the Campaign Against Antisemitism, Labour Party affiliate the Jewish Labour Movement, and The Guardian.

Shortly after it was issued the Party adopted the IHRA in full, and the code was assumed to have been withdrawn. But it is understood the Party found the code was essential in order to apply the IHRA working definition.   So the Party kept using it (competently or not) to choose and judge cases where members are accused of antisemitic conduct, but without the accused, or indeed anybody outside the Labour hierarchy knowing about it, except in occasional NCC hearings. They didn’t dare make it public that they were still using it because, as Alex Barros-Curtis, the Party’s lawyer, said in recent evidence to the High Court, that Code was regarded internally as ‘incendiary.’

 

Now, under pressure of our impending court case, they have been forced to re-release it to public view. But where are the cries of ‘antisemitic conduct?’. Nowhere to be seen or heard. Could it be that the objectors haven’t noticed, or have they changed their minds and it wasn’t antisemitic after all? OR COULD IT BE WHAT MANY JEWISH EXPERTS WROTE AT THE TIME: THAT THIS IS A USEFUL CODE AND IF USED TRANSPARENTLY AND WITH UNDERSTANDING IT COULD ASSIST IN DETERMINING ANTISEMITISM. In other words, it is one thing under Keir Starmer and another under Jeremy Corbyn?


We are continuing our court case to obtain justice for all Labour Party members. 

We still need  your generous donations if you are able to and for this to be shared by email and on all your social media platforms.

Update 15

Labour Activists 4 Justice

April 7, 2021

THE LABOUR PARTY PUBLISHES THE UNPUBLISHABLE

In an apparent attempt to pre-empt an imminent High Court hearing, the Labour Party has this week published a previously secret Code of Conduct that it uses for judging members accused of antisemitism.  

One aspect of our claim concerned the use by the Party of a secret – unpublished - code of conduct to judge antisemitism cases; a code which accused members could not access and so use in their defence and which the Party repeatedly refused to publish. 

In a preliminary hearing in the High Court in February, we won our arguments about how the case should proceed and had our costs awarded against the Party for that hearing.   Last week, just over a month the later, the Party released the secret code that formed a central part of the claim. It had been withheld because of the way it was received when it was first published. As the Party’s lawyer Alex Barros-Curtis said in a submission to the High Court, it was regarded as ‘incendiary’.  As a result, complainants have been denied the opportunity to understand the Party’s approach to antisemitism before making complaints and respondents have been denied the opportunity to make submissions on it.

When the code first appeared in 2018 under Corbyn, it, and he, were heavily criticised for being antisemitic by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Community Security Trust, the Campaign Against Antisemitism, and Labour Party affiliate the Jewish Labour Movement - along with the Guardian.  It was assumed to have been withdrawn once the Party adopted the IHRA working definition. That turns out not to have been the case.

It appears the code has been being used to decide which antisemitism complaints to pursue, and to judge those complaints, since September 2018.  As far as we are aware there have been no accusations of antisemitism against the Party itself following the publication of the Code last week under Keir Starmer, unlike the response in 2018 when Corbyn was leader. 

Diana Neslen, an 81 year-old orthodox Jew accused of antisemitism by the party, and one of the LA4J, said ‘I’m very pleased that the party has now published this secret code. Even a quick look at it suggests that all of us have been wrongfully accused, indeed we should never have been investigated in the first place. But there are still all the other issues  that we are challenging and this just highlights the gross injustice of the whole process. And  what are they going to do about the hundreds of people already judged under the secret code, including me?’


Fighting this case - for the ultimate benefit of all LP members - is costly and we still need more funds. If you are able to, please give generously and please share via email and social media.

Update 14

Labour Activists 4 Justice

March 19, 2021

Video 7: Chris Wallis

Chris Wallis (age 72) is a former Chair of Hazel Grove CLP, part of the Stockport conurbation.  A member since 2015, he has promoted antiracist and antifascist ideas throughout his 40 year career in the entertainment industry, including recording the autobiographies of Nelson Mandela and Amos Oz for BBC Radio.. He is accused of 6 instances of hostility or prejudice based on race or religion. The instances are all re-posts of material posted by other reputable posters, 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 Wallis denies all the charges.


Watch video here: https://javelinmedia.org/2021/03/18/labour-activists-4-justice-no-7-chris-wallis/


Please continue to share and donate - while we did get some of our costs paid in our recent court hearing, we had already paid out most of the donations so far in preparing the case and will need even more to take it to court.


Many thanks also to Merseyside Pensioners who recently collected and donated £200.

Update 13

Labour Activists 4 Justice

March 2, 2021

Video 6: Michael Howard

Mike Howard is Jewish member of the Labour Party, accused of antisemitism. He explains why he’s joining the legal action by Labour Activists for Justice (LA4J), a group of Labour Party members who have been caught up in the absurdities of Labour’s disciplinary processes. Here he gives the background to his story, his family background going back three generations in London’s East End anti-fascist movement, and explains why he and other members have been forced to use the law to try and get justice in the Labour Party.

Watch here:

https://javelinmedia.org/2021/03/01/labour-activist-4-justice-no-6-mike-howard/

Please share and donate if you can.

Update 12

Labour Activists 4 Justice

Feb. 27, 2021

We Won our First Court Hearing!

VICTORY IN HIGH COURT - LABOUR PARTY HAVE TO PAY OUR COSTS

In an important development in our case to bring fairness and justice to the Labour Party’s disciplinary process, the six members of Labour Activists For Justice (LA4J) along with two other claimants appeared on Wednesday before Master Sullivan of the Queen’s Bench to ask whether the cases could be heard together and to challenge the Labour Party’s demand for a preliminary hearing which would have put off - possibly for ever - a full hearing.


Master Sullivan found in our favour on both counts.

In making her decisions to allow the new members to join the case and to refuse the preliminary trial, Master Sullivan had regard to both the legal issues and to the huge increases in costs and time that a separate case for the new members and a preliminary hearing would incur.


Diana Neslen, an 81 year-old member of an orthodox synagogue who the Labour Party has accused of antisemitism, and who is one of the original members of LA4J said :

‘I think it’s a pity and a shame that the Party should waste members’ money defending the indefensible.  I think their main reason for refusing to allow the new members to join and asking for a preliminary hearing was to drive our costs to a point where we could no longer continue. I’m delighted with the Master’s ruling’.

‘Perhaps now the Party will go away and reconsider their actions, and do the simple and honourable thing of changing the disciplinary process to make it fair and just, in line with the promises they made to the EHRC.’


Uniting their cases with LA4J are Alma Yaniv and Palestinian journalist Sameh Habeeb, who are both currently suspended from the Party. There were originally five applicants to join the case, but less than a week before the hearing the Party suddenly dropped their charges against three of them without explanation - charges which had remained on the Party’s books, anonymous and unspecified, for over a year. Yaniv and Habeeb are supported by the Left Legal Fighting Fund.

Speaking about his victory at the High Court, journalist Sameh Habeeb said:

“I joined the Labour Party after I came to the UK as a refugee from Gaza. I thought it shared my values, but the Party has let me down. I’ve been suspended for over two years and have been gagged from responding to constant attacks on my character.

“I never wanted to take my own Party to court, but there was no other way to get justice. This legal action has the potential to change how Labour treats its members, which would prevent others in my position from being subjected to this gross unfairness.”

Alma Yaniv added:

“The Labour Party suspended me nearly two years ago. Since then, I’ve been left in limbo, unable to properly respond to the allegations that have been levelled against me.

“Rather than resolving our cases as quickly as possible, it seems to me that the Party is simply trying to cause more unnecessary delays. Labour has treated pro-Palestine members with contempt. At last, with this court process, we have a chance of achieving justice.”


The full hearing has been scheduled in the Court session beginning on the 8th June.

Master Sullivan awarded LA4J £25 000 of its costs to be paid by the Labour Party, leaving  the Labour Party with a total bill of over £75k. 

However, we have incurred - and will continue to incur - further costs, so we are still seeking contributions to our legal funds.

Please share and give generously if you can - this case sets out to benefit all LP members with fair and just processes, and we will continue this fight.

Please watch (and share) our videos on javelinmedia.org, individual links can be found in our previous updates.

Update 11

Labour Activists 4 Justice

Feb. 22, 2021

FIRST COURT HEARING ON WEDNESDAY 24TH FEB

LABOUR PARTY DEMANDS MAKE IT A LONGER, MORE COSTLY PROCESS

'Labour Activists for Justice’ case is now scheduled for its first court hearing on Wednesday February 24th to determine how the case should proceed.  LA4J is seeking a quick and efficient resolution with the joining of two groups of claimants with the same interest to avoid wasted time and costs.  The Labour Party is seeking a further preliminary hearing to determine legal questions LA4J do not even consider relevant, thereby increasing costs and delay.  

We hope that this hearing will prevent an unnecessary (and expensive) second pre-hearing.  It should be in both parties’ interests to move to a full court hearing as soon as feasible, to limit costs and resolve these issues as soon as possible. We want this full court hearing in the expectation that if we win, this will bring benefit to the many other people stuck in Labour HQ’s unjust disciplinary processes.

Meanwhile, over the last few days the Labour Party have totally exonerated 3 of those who were looking to join us in the action, despite them having been under investigation for over 15 months, without even knowing why they were being investigated. Additionally they have concluded the cases for two LA4J activists and changed the allegations for another. (More details soon)

It is unfortunate that the Labour party by its actions is expending costs - at the expense of members’ subscriptions - rather than getting down to the meat of the case.  We do not have the large pockets that the Labour party is using to defend a system criticised as being unjust and ineffective by the EHRC.  

So while our costs mount we are asking you, if you have not already donated, to please consider making a donation or to donate again if you have and can. 

Update 10

Labour Activists 4 Justice

Feb. 16, 2021

Video 5: John Davies

This is the fifth video in our series.


John Davies (age 67) is a former chair of St Michael’s branch, Liverpool Riverside CLP, one of the largest branches in the country. A member since 2015, he has participated in antiracist and antifascist movements all his life and served on the Liverpool Riverside CLP Executive during Louise Ellman’s tenure as MP. 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 denies all the charges.

Watch here: 

https://javelinmedia.org/2021/02/15/labour-activists-4-justice-no-5-john-davies/

Update 9

Labour Activists 4 Justice

Feb. 9, 2021

Video 4: Colin O’Driscoll

Colin O’Driscoll is a Labour Party member falsely and anonymously accused of antisemitism. His is the fourth of a series of interviews issued by Labour Activists 4 Justice (LA4J), a group of Labour Party members who have been caught up in the absurdities of Labour’s disciplinary processes.

Here Colin explains why he is joining the legal action by Labour Activists for Justice (LA4J). He gives the background to his story in Labour International CLP, and why he and other members have been forced to use the law to try and get justice in the Labour Party.

watch video here: https://javelinmedia.org/.../25/la4j-no-4-colin-odriscoll/

Update 8

Labour Activists 4 Justice

Feb. 6, 2021

Video 3: reposted with correct video link

Video 3: Jonathan Rosenhead

Jonathan Rosenhead is a retired university professor in his eighties. His is the third of a series of interviews issued by Labour Activists for Justice (LA4J), a group of Labour Party members who have been caught up in the absurdities of Labour’s disciplinary processes.

Jonathan is Jewish, and has been falsely accused by the Labour Party of antisemitism. Here he gives the background to his own story, and why he and other members (Labour Activists for Justice – LA4J) have been forced to use the law to try and get justice – for all party members.


Watch video here: https://javelinmedia.org/2021/01/23/labour-activists-for-justice-no-3/



Update 7

Labour Activists 4 Justice

Feb. 3, 2021

Video 3: Jonathan Rosenhead

Jonathan Rosenhead (age 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. From the sixties he has been involved in the anti-apartheid movement; in campaigning around the use of rubber and plastic bullets in the north of Ireland; in working with Hugo Chavez’ government in Venezuela; and in support for the rights of Palestinians. He rejoined the party in 2015. His Notice of Investigation served in May 2020 cited as evidence i) a speech at the February 2020 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.


Watch video here: https://javelinmedia.org/2021/01/23/labour-activists-for-justice-no-3/ (Link corrected)

Update 6

Labour Activists 4 Justice

Jan. 27, 2021

Second video - Michael Ellman

Michael Ellman is an 83 year old member of the Labour Party, falsely accused of antisemitism. His is the second of a series of interviews issued by Labour Activists for Justice (LA4J), a group of Labour Party members who have been caught up in the absurdities of Labour’s disciplinary processes.

Michael is an observant Jew. Here he explains his reasons for joining in a legal action against the Labour Party. He gives the background to his story, and why he and other members have been forced to use the law to try and get justice – for all party members. 

Follow the link to see video on Javelin Media

https://javelinmedia.org/2021/01/23/la4justice-no-2/

Please continue to donate and share

Update 5

Labour Activists 4 Justice

Jan. 23, 2021

VIDEO: interview with Diana Neslen. Please watch...

Diana Neslen, aged 81 is an Orthodox Jew and is a delegate to Ilford South CLP.  She is one of the group Labour Activists 4 Justice, LA4J— her account can be read in our previous update.


In this video - follow the link below - she explains her reasons for joining in this legal action against the Labour Party.  She gives the background to her story, and why she and other members have been forced to use the law to try and get justice in the Labour Party.

Please watch:


This is the first of a series of interviews issued by Labour Activists for Justice (LA4J) - others will be posted over the next few days/weeks.


Follow on Javelin media Facebook page:

http://facebook.com/MediaJavelin

Please give generously if you can and please share widely.

Update 4

Labour Activists 4 Justice

Dec. 10, 2020

CASE GOES TO HIGH COURT!

LABOUR PARTY GOES BACK ON ITS PUBLIC ACCEPTANCE OF EHRC RULING

Labour Activists 4 Justice (LA4J) filed our claim in the High Court on 9th December in light of the Party’s acceptance that its disciplinary process is unfair and not fit for purpose.  

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 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. So LA4J approached the Party again to ensure that the Party did not continue with its investigations under the unfair process, only to be told the Report did not apply to them and the Party would continue to use the same disciplinary processes that were found to be seriously unfair by the EHRC.

We – now able to be named below, including 4 who are Jewish - are making this High Court claim because the suggestion in many cases, including our own, that there is anti-Semitic content in the evidence provided by the Labour Party is unfounded and offensive. We want a fair disciplinary process to be implemented for ALL Labour Party members where the criteria by which we will be judged are clear and public and the procedures are fair.

We appreciate the support from 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 we still need further contributions! Please share widely!

The Labour Party owes it to all its members to treat them with fairness and due process.

This should start now!

The Members of LA4J :

Diana Neslen (age 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 (age 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 (age 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. He 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 substitute the Oxford English Dictionary definition, which 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. Suspension now lifted – 9th December!

Mike Howard (age 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 (age 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 (age 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 (age 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.


Update 3

Labour Activists 4 Justice

Nov. 25, 2020

We are preparing to file court proceedings!

We are preparing to file court proceedings!   Can you please help with our costs?

The Labour party disciplinary process has been condemned by the EHRC as fundamentally unfair to complainants and respondents.  This is not surprising.  Many of us who have had direct experience of the process can vouch for the fact that it is not fit for purpose. It is an opaque process, granting confidentiality to those accusers whose complaints are investigated, while treating the accused as if they were already guilty, and making vague accusations against people without letting them know the case against them or by what standards they are being judged.

It is fundamental to natural justice that an accused should know their accuser (unless there is very good reason for this not to be the case).  This requirement (confirmed by the EHRC) is, however, dispensed with by the Labour Party as a matter of course.  Indeed, the EHRC found that the Labour Party did not even always record the identity of complainant.  The accused is therefore kept in the dark about who the accuser is, or even if there is more than one.  The accused cannot therefore identify whether there might be other motivations for the complaint, including potential factionalism. Since the motives of the accusers cannot be challenged, the accused is denied a full opportunity to respond.

This is just one of the many unfairnesses identified by the EHRC that have pervaded the Party’s disciplinary processes and which still have not been addressed.  Indeed, we have tried valiantly since July to engage with the Labour Party (and others have preceded us) in order to encourage the Party to address the unjust and inequitable nature of their disciplinary processes and the devastating effect it has on the lives and well-being of those the Party chooses to target.

When the Labour Party finally engaged with our legal representatives they rejected all our reasonable submissions out of hand but without providing any adequate explanation.  It was not therefore surprising to discover that the EHRC’s report agreed with our concerns.  It recommended that the current procedure is so unfair that the party must put in place a new fair, transparent, independent process.   

The Labour Party has now publicly confirmed that it will implement the recommendations of the EHRC report and will put a new process in place.  But extraordinarily, they have refused to stop the unfair current investigations, suggesting that the Report is not for us: it is for complainants and ‘The Jewish Community’.  This is not only offensive, particularly to those of us who are Jewish, it is also simply wrong.  The Report identifies fundamental unfairness to complainants and respondents irrespective of their ethnic background or religion.  And it completely contradicts the Party’s public statements that it accepts and is currently implementing the EHRC’s recommendations by designing a whole new process for investigations.

The Labour Party cannot continue to act in blatant disregard of the recommendations of the EHRC when it suits them, while saying, in a blaze of publicity, that they accepted those recommendations and would act on them in full.  It is time to hold them to account. We now have no option but to file our claim in court. We hope to file within a matter of weeks.

We are deeply grateful to all those who, because they share our views on this issue, have so generously supported this cause already.  We would not be where we are without you.  We still need your help please, so we are asking again for further donations at this stage to fund court action - not just for ourselves, but for all those who have been targeted and to prevent others in the future from having to suffer the same fate. This should be for the benefit of all Party members, and for all those who believe in the rule of law and fair process.

Thank you. Solidarity.

Update 2

Labour Activists 4 Justice

Oct. 23, 2020

Moving forward - a short update

Since our last update, we can report that the Labour Party has responded in some detail if not altogether constructively… Lawyers for the group have been busy consulting with Counsel before responding. Our expectation is that they will be in a position to do so very soon with a view to moving the cases forward. We will send out a further update as soon as we reasonably can. Rest assured we are doing everything we can to bring natural justice for all members to the Party’s procedures.

Update 1

Labour Activists 4 Justice

Sept. 3, 2020

Initial target reached - the campaign continues!

Thanks to the generosity of those who have already pledged, we have reached our initial target of £25000 and are now moving towards our stretch target of £100 000.

Sadly, even since we launched this appeal, the number of Labour Party members caught up in these unfair LP processes has continued to rise steadily, with many good comrades being unjustly accused and suspended. These include members of long standing with a strong reputation for anti-racist campaigning, and several elected Councillors. 

Some are launching their own legal cases and we certainly support them in doing that. LA4J are committed to challenging the unjust processes that affect all LP members, so that on winning our case all members will benefit from a change in disciplinary processes.

The Party has still not responded in any way to our lawyer’s pre-action letter of some six weeks ago, so we are carrying on with our legal action. Once we have sufficient funds our lawyers will launch the next phase.

Our current expectation is for legal proceedings to begin by mid-September, but to do that we need an urgent increase in donations. If you haven’t donated yet – please pledge now. If you have already donated, then please consider if you could give again. We also ask all of you to share the link to this page wherever you can – both inside and outside the Labour Party, in your Trade Unions, family, friends – and by any means that work – email, letter, social media, conversation, even by Zoom! 

At the moment LP confidentiality rules mean that we cannot reveal the identities or details of the individual cases. Once legal papers have been served there will be more information available in the public domain.

We ask that you support us now and continue once proceedings have begun. Legal cases do not come cheap, but we are optimistic that these are cases that we can win.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/justice-4-labour-party-members/

 

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