The disgraced former Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, and former Labour councillor Pamela Bromley, have now withdrawn their legal proceedings against the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) at the High Court.
Mr Livingstone and Ms Bromley were both named in the EHRC’s report into antisemitism in the Labour Party. The report came about following the EHRC’s years-long investigation in which Campaign Against Antisemitism was the originating complainant, having made the original referral to the EHRC.
Mr Livingstone and Ms Bromley brought a claim for judicial review against the EHRC in order to overturn the EHRC’s landmark 2020 report which concluded that the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership had engaged in unlawful antisemitic harassment of its Jewish members. These proceedings were a final attempt by the far-left supposedly to undermine the report, and much was pinned on this case, with those supporting the claimants having said that this judicial review could lead to the report’s worst allegations being entirely discredited.
Had they been successful, they would have set back the fight against antisemitism and antisemitism-denial by years. To prevent such an eventuality, Campaign Against Antisemitism sought to intervene in the case, and defeated Mr Livingstone’s and Ms Bromley’s opposition, with the High Court granting our application to do so earlier this year.
At the time, Mrs Justice Lang ruled: “In my judgment, the Court is likely to be assisted by CAA’s intervention…It made the complaint to [EHRC], and requested that an investigation took place. It provided substantial evidence, conceptual framework analysis and legal submissions to support the investigation. It has been particularly concerned with antisemitism denial as a form of harassment. As a Jewish community charity, it is rooted in the Jewish community and it has built up a longstanding expertise on the nature of modern antisemitism. Because of its expertise, it is likely to be able to contribute information, analysis and context more effectively than the other parties [the EHRC and the Labour Party].”
The EHRC supported Campaign Against Antisemitism’s application to intervene, while the Labour Party neither supported nor opposed it, remaining neutral.
Mr Livingstone and Ms Bromley have now withdrawn the claim, surrendering and withdrawing the judicial review proceedings without testing the EHRC’s report at all, thereby giving up the chance to have their much-vaunted day in court, for which they had crowdfunded large sums of money from their trusting supporters.
The EHRC’s report cannot now be subject to further review, and its critical findings about the Labour Party and the nature of antisemitism – including about the so-called ‘Livingstone Formulation’, whereby allegations of antisemitism are dismissed as attempts to silence criticism of Israel or as motivated by some other ulterior motive – are no longer at any risk of being overturned.
The EHRC report is now unimpeachable and every finding in it stands, final and binding, including those about Mr Livingstone’s and Ms Bromley’s conduct. The Labour Party, through their conduct as its agents, was found to have created an intimidating or hostile environment for Party members and prospective members, particularly those who were Jewish. Their statements were unwanted conduct related to Jewish ethnicity, which had the effect of harassing Labour Party members. In other words, their conduct amounted to harassment of Jewish members of the Labour Party on the basis of their Jewishness.
The EHRC found that, in addition to use of antisemitic tropes, antisemitism-denial – that is, dismissing complaints as ‘smears’ and ‘fake’ – can be a form of antisemitic conduct that amounts to unlawful harassment, and that it was in the cases of both of these individuals. The EHRC described these examples of antisemitic conduct as the tip of the iceberg of the issues that it identified in the Labour antisemitism investigation. That finding is now unimpeachable.
In a bizarre display of Humpty Dumpty’s Theory of Meaning, Mr Livingstone and Ms Bromley have sought to portray as a brilliant victory their withdrawal of the case, which cost their supporters so much yet achieved not one of their objectives in court. Nobody will be persuaded by this laughable attempt at rationalising their capitulation. Meanwhile, their claim that these proceedings cost Campaign Against Antisemitism some astronomical figure is comically lacking in foundation, thanks to the generosity of our legal team.
Gideon Falter, Chief Executive of Campaign Against Antisemitism, said: “This is a significant victory for the Jewish community, as it means that the EHRC’s groundbreaking report into antisemitism in the Labour Party stands. Ken Livingstone has been at the heart of Labour’s antisemitism scandal for years, so it is apt that he is also at the centre of this final failure of the antisemitism-denying far-left to overturn the EHRC’s findings.
“Recognising that Campaign Against Antisemitism originally referred the Labour Party to the EHRC and is an expert body in combating antisemitism, the High Court granted us intervener status in the case. We were keen to defend in court the EHRC’s findings of antisemitism in the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn. Our only disappointment at the dropping of this specious claim is that we will not have the opportunity to demolish the claims made by apologists for Mr Corbyn and his acolytes.
“This is a humiliating end for Mr Livingstone and his co-complainant, and one that their supporters, whose funds were squandered, will surely question. They are now reduced to crowing that they cost the EHRC hundreds of thousands in taxpayers’ money and delighting in their amusingly false assumption that they cost us vast charitable funds. Having seen off Mr Livingstone, we will continue our work to advocate for zero tolerance of antisemitism in all political parties, without fear or favour.”
Campaign Against Antisemitism was represented by Derek Spitz and Adam Wagner, of counsel, instructed by Asserson solicitors Shimon Goldwater and Joshua Battat. We are extremely grateful to our highly-capable legal team, which has been working on this matter with us since we first referred the Labour Party to the EHRC five years ago.
Shimon Goldwater, partner at Asserson, said: “Mr Livingstone has acted sensibly for the first time in these proceedings and abandoned his judicial review application. The EHRC’s findings are now final and not subject to further challenge, which is materially due to the strong stand taken in this case by Campaign Against Antisemitism.”
A spokesperson for the EHRC said: “We firmly stand by our robust and fair investigation, the findings of which were accepted in full by the Labour Party. We welcome the decision to withdraw this judicial review claim, with disappointment at the valuable time and resources that we have had to expend on defending it.”
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.