The mammoth report was compiled in the final months of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and was titled “The work of the Labour Party’s Governance and Legal Unit in relation to antisemitism, 2014 – 2019”. Although the report – which was reportedly the product of a review of 10,000 separate emails and thousands of private WhatsApp communications between former senior party officials – said that its “findings prove the scale of the problem, and could help end the denialism amongst some part of the Party membership,” it nonetheless insisted that there was “no evidence” of antisemitism complaints being treated differently to other forms of complaint, or of “antisemitic intent” among current or former staff.
Crucially, the report argued that Labour headquarters was beset by factionalism and attempts to undermine the Corbyn leadership, which laid the groundwork for a ‘stab in the back’ myth that the Labour Party machine betrayed the far-left in order to prevent Mr Corbyn from electoral victory.
At the time, Campaign Against Antisemitism described the report as a “last ditch attempt to discredit antisemitism allegations.”
At first, the report, believed to have been commissioned by then-General Secretary Jennie Formby, was not released to the public, and was intended to be sent to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) as part of its investigation into Labour antisemitism, in which Campaign Against Antisemitism was the complainant. Based on legal advice, however, the report was not submitted.
Instead, within a short time, an unredacted version of the 860-page report was leaked by unknown persons and then disseminated by some twenty individuals, including Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP, putting Jewish people mentioned in the report at risk.
Individuals named in the report – including former staffers criticised over factionalism – launched legal proceedings against the Labour Party for breach of their privacy, while Labour launched an internal investigation led by Martin Forde QC (publication of the results of which has been delayed indefinitely due to the ICO’s investigation) and a further independent inquiry, while the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the data regulator, also commenced an investigation.
The claimants sought, in the course of the litigation, to force Labour to disclose the names of those believed to have leaked the report, which Labour resisted, arguing that, although it “reasonably believes” that it knows who leaked the report, it could not be certain beyond doubt and therefore that innocent individuals might be wrongly implicated. The court agreed that there was a “real risk” of this and rejected the attempt, made by a claimant via a Norwich Pharmaceutical order, to force disclosure.
However, the Party has now changed course and is reportedly planning to lodge papers with the High Court naming Seumas Milne, the far-left journalist who served as Mr Corbyn’s Executive Director of Strategy and Communications; Karie Murphy, a trade unionist and Mr Corbyn’s chief of staff, whose nomination for a peerage was blocked; Laura Murray, a disgraced Corbyn aide who was appointed to lead the Labour Party’s disciplinary process; Georgie Robertson, who worked in Labour’s communications team; and Harry Hayball, a staffer in Labour’s Governance and Legal Unit and former Head of Digital Communications at Momentum who was reportedly labelled as the author in the report’s metadata.
It is understood that both the Forde inquiry and the independent Labour investigation interviewed all five individuals, who deny that they are the source of the leak and are now reportedly considering bringing their own legal claims against the Party for breaching their confidentiality by naming them. A spokesperson for the individuals reportedly said that “They entirely reject these baseless claims. They did not leak the report, and fully cooperated with the Party’s independent investigation by an external investigator, and the inquiry led by Martin Forde QC. They understand that neither of those investigations concluded that they were responsible.”
It is believed that the Labour Party may now be naming the individuals in order to try to shift liability for any potential data breaches away from the Party and towards the individuals allegedly responsible. The individuals’ solicitors said:“To the extent that the Labour Party has explained its proposed action, it is clear that it will be naming the individuals in an attempt to deflect on to them its own liability in claims brought by a group of claimants who are suing the Party over the leak as well as the Party bringing a related claim direct against the five. The Party apparently admits that its case against the individuals is purely circumstantial and inferential, but has failed even to set out that case properly in correspondence, despite its obligations to do so under the relevant Court Protocol.”
The Labour Party was found by the EHRC to have engaged in unlawful discrimination and harassment of Jews. The report followed the EHRC’s investigation of the Labour Party in which Campaign Against Antisemitism was the complainant, submitting hundreds of pages of evidence and legal argument. Sir Keir Starmer called the publication of the report a “day of shame” for the Labour Party.
Campaign Against Antisemitism’s Antisemitism Barometer 2019 showed that antisemitism on the far-left of British politics has surpassed that of the far-right.
Campaign Against Antisemitism advocates for zero tolerance of antisemitism in public life. To that end we monitor all political parties and strive to ensure that any cases of concern are properly addressed.