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
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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Latest: 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 Lab…

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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 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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