The first rule of Labour Leaks: You shall not discuss Labour Leaks
The Labour Leaks and Forde report are public interest stories that affect our very democracy, the act of suppressing and hiding the truth behind a legal wall that only serves the perpetrators of Labour’s betrayal does not bode well for a potential Labour Party goverment, especially one led by an authoritarian Barrister and former Director of public prosecution.
A secret document obtained by The Electronic Intifada reveals that the UK Labour Party wasted £1million pursuing the leakers of a report on alleged anti-Semitism.
Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist and associate editor with The Electronic Intifada his exclusive shows the extent the Labour Party and Sir Keir Starmer have gone to in their pursuit to hide the truth, Labour staffers sabotaged their own party. Much of this article is a reproduction of his work edited for our readers.
The work of the Labour Party’s Governance and Legal Unit in relation to antisemitism, 2014–2019 is a leaked British Labour Party dossier written by party staff in response to the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s investigation into the party’s handling of antisemitism complaints and includes reports of other forms of racism.
The report reveals emails of senior party management staff, aligned with the right of the party, wherein there was clear obstruction of justice in dealing with cases of antisemitism and other noted cases of racism, and it does not clear the party of accusations of being “institutionally antisemitic”. Although the report clearly states that it “thoroughly disproves any suggestion that antisemitism is not a problem in the Party”, or that it is all a ‘smear’ or a ‘witchhunt’, its main assertion is that rampant factionalism within the party had ultimately led to antisemitism and racism allegations not being dealt with properly.
The dossier was first reported by Tom Rayner, political correspondent at Sky News, on Twitter on 11 April 2020, then on Sky News itself a day later. He reported that Labour’s lawyers had advised against submitting the report to the commission. The news of this dossier had many activists calling for its full publication; it finally leaked and spread through social media. Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and deputy leader Angela Rayner announced an investigation into the report the following day.
The first rule of Labour Leaks: You shall not discuss Labour Leaks
After the document was leaked to the media, Starmer ordered an independent investigation but stopped all Branches CLPs and members from discussing the report or its content.
The party’s ruling body decided that the scope of the inquiry would cover: the allegations contained in the report; its commissioning and how it was put into the public domain; the structure, culture and practices of the party.
Labour’s local chairs and secretaries were also warned by the party centrally that their online meetings should not discuss a number of specified sensitive topics related to both the Party’s Panorama ‘out of court settlement’ and the adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism.
Members are angry that the staffers who received the ‘out of court settlement’ and unreserved apology are the same staffers who are named and under investigation in the #LabourLeaks dossier. These are the same staffers whose Whatsapp messages in the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report suggest that not only did these staffers make disgusting racist remarks about Black Labour MP’s but also worked to lose the 2017 election.
Diane Abbott has also called for the leaked Labour report that sparked allegations of anti-Black racism to be published in full.
This came after the Guardian printed an article claiming the former staffers are now claiming the report contained misused private messages from their WhatsApp account.
The Forde Inquiry was originally set to conclude in mid-July, but this timescale was described by Forde as “impractical”. It then aimed to deliver the report “by the end of 2020”, which was later changed to “early in 2021”.
The report was then scheduled for release in November 2021 then January 2022 after which a Date in February was pencilled in, to date the Forde report has not seen the light of day.
The report just like the dossier itself has been buried
The 860-page document unearthed a plethora of party horrors: allegations of misuse of funds, the continued undermining of the 2017 electoral campaign and the then-leader Jeremy Corbyn’s attempts to investigate anti-Semitism in the party, as well as vicious criticism of leading Labour figures by staff members in private messages.
The report was the result of an internal investigation into the work of Labour’s governance and legal unit in relation to antisemitism. Created by party staff, it pulls together an estimated 10,000 emails, thousands of messages exchanged on work accounts, and the contents of two WhatsApp group chats apparently created by senior management in Labour headquarters.
The rule of Lawyers
We see a glimpse into the authoritarian rule and mindset Sir Keir Starmer would bring down on the British public if ever he was elected to office. His would be the ‘rule of lawyers’ where we would see our liberties stripped in constant legislation, our freedoms tied up in courtroom battles.
The original April 2020 report showed how Labour had sabotaged left-wing leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Despite the extraordinary lengths Labour went to suppress the leaked report, a Labour lawyer concedes in the secret document that there was “an overriding public interest” in publishing at least some of it.
You can read extracts of the “highly confidential” document on this page. It is dated 14 September 2020 and addressed to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) – the UK’s official data regulator.
More than £1million was allocated to specialist lawyers, consultants and forensic investigators, the secret document says. They issued legal threats to publishers of the leaked report and confiscated Labour staffers’ laptops for investigation.
The lawyers even wrote to Google, asking the company to delist websites that had “linked to” the leaked report. The Silicon Valley monolith declined to comply.
The revelations in the secret document will worry members concerned about the party’s escalating financial crisis since Corbyn’s right-wing successor Keir Starmer took over in April 2020.
The original 851-page report was leaked to the press a few days into Starmer’s leadership.
The subsequently obtained secret document reveals the names of the Labour staffers who wrote the leaked report: Harry Hayball, Georgina Robertson and Laura Murray. It also says that senior Corbyn aides Karie Murphy and Seumas Milne were “closely involved” in its production.
In the secret document the lawyers also name staffers they allege leaked the report, but The Electronic Intifada has decided not to release their names.
The authors attack the leakers’ “nefarious ambitions” and accuse them of a “criminal venture … in pursuit of their own self-serving, factional political agendas.”
No one has in fact been charged with any crimes in relation to the leak.
The original leaked report sought to largely exonerate Jeremy Corbyn’s team. It pinned the blame for the supposed “Labour anti-Semitism crisis” on the inaction of right-wing, anti-Corbyn bureaucrats.
It claimed they deliberately “failed to act on extreme cases of anti-Semitism in order to undermine” Corbyn’s Labour.
But ironically, the allegedly left-wing authors of the original report contributed to the same anti-Corbyn smear campaign as led by Israel and its lobby in the first place.
Among those smeared in the report was left-wing former London mayor Ken Livingstone, anti-racist activists Jackie Walker and Marc Wadsworth, left-wing former Labour lawmaker Chris Williamson, Jewish anti-Zionist Tony Greenstein and Asa Winstanley.
The dossier – dated March 2020 and leaked in April 2020 – claimed some Labour Party staffers did not want Jeremy Corbyn to win the 2017 general election and actively worked to destabilise his leadership. The Whatsapp messages suggested they used their positions in the Labour Party to undermine the 2017 general election.
John Mcdonnell wrote of the report in 2020
The document chronicles many failures in the complaints process and includes evidence from thousands of emails, messages and two WhatsApp groups featuring senior management. These internal messages have sparked further controversy, as they appear to show that senior party staff were viciously cruel to members of our shadow cabinet, and were even actively working to undermine the party’s electoral success.
The report will have been especially affecting for those who worked so hard and enthusiastically, delivering leaflets, knocking on doors and hitting those phone lines, to try to secure the election of a Labour government in 2017. If its contents are accurate – and so far, I understand that there has been no public denial of the veracity of the internal communications exposed – the hearts of many party members and supporters will be broken.
It has been calculated that Labour came within 2,500 votes, spread across a limited number of constituencies, of forming a government in 2017. If what is reported in the leaked document is true, that a group of senior staff undermined the chances of Labour going into government, it would represent the most shocking act of treachery against the party, its members and our supporters in Labour’s century-long history.
It would also represent a betrayal of all those who desperately needed a Labour government, especially in light of the current crisis.
We could now have been in the third year of a Labour government fully funding an NHS, which would consequently be so much better resourced and prepared for the coronavirus pandemic. The nurses and health workers and carers we go out to clap every Thursday evening would have had a decent pay rise, which the Conservatives voted to deny them. We would have celebrated the third anniversary of Labour’s formation of a National Care Service, fully funded to provide quality care for our elderly and vulnerable fellow citizens, with carers professionally recognised and properly paid.
So if the report has weight, expect all of us whose dreams of this transformative Labour government were shattered in 2017 to be angry.
They stopped a manifesto of hope from becoming a reality.
In this secret document, Labour’s lawyers concede that the leaked report raised “legitimate questions” about whether party officials “seriously misconducted themselves” by undermining Corbyn “and working to ensure that the party lost the 2017 general election.”
The original report showed that sabotage included funnelling around £200,000 worth of party resources towards right-wing Labour candidates and away from pro-Corbyn candidates.
In a marginal comment on the secret document, party lawyer Anya Proops remonstrated that: “Do we think the disclosure of these messages was unjustified? Might it be said that … there was an overriding public interest given their content?”
Pro-Corbyn party staff had amassed a collection of emails and WhatsApp messages written by right-wing staff which laid bare the latter’s hostility.
The “massive elephant in the room [is] that we all kind of hate” Corbyn, one staffer wrote.
The lawyers who wrote the secret document complain of the “hugely disruptive” effect of the leaks on Starmer. They say his leadership was “seriously diverted within days of its inception” and that the leaks were designed to “smear Sir Keir personally.”
Pleading for Labour to be spared a significant fine, the lawyers urge the Information Commissioner’s Office to “avoid outcomes which unfairly taint the party (or its leadership)” in the eyes of members and voters. They even claim that a large fine could damage “the democratic principles on which our [British] constitution is founded.”
But the lawyers had further doubts. Lucas Atkin cautions in a marginal comment that this claim might be “over-egging it a bit.”
The secret document reveals that Labour “extensively investigated the leaks at significant expense.”
It says the party estimated that funds “expended or still to be expended for these purposes exceed £1,000,000” .
Labour also wrote to media outlets that had published extracts of the leaked report, including to left-wing site The Skwawkbox, threatening legal action. It is unclear how many complied.
Skwawkbox editor Steve Walker told The Electronic Intifada that he had “just ignored” the takedown demand.
Despite accusing the leakers of criminality, the document also concedes that a Labour contractor “did not detect any specific threats” to those whose information had been exposed by the leak.
Labour’s lawyers also admit that copies of the report pose only “minor online risk” to those named.
One of the companies hired by Labour “at significant cost” was Stroz Friedberg, which the document describes as “leading forensic experts.” Labour gave the firm the computers of 11 staff.
The results were inconclusive, the document says. Yet several staff were “de facto” suspended pending investigation.
The suspensions were later made formal, the secret document says. The Electronic Intifada understands that the staffers quit before they could be fired.
Internet searches and social media confirmed the fact that the staffers no longer work for Labour.
One “knowingly participated in an unauthorized scheme to effect the leaks,” the secret document alleges. Others were allegedly “at the very least aware of the plan.”
“Strong public interest”
Despite punishing the alleged whistleblowers, the lawyers admit that Labour accepts there was “a strong public interest in alerting the media” to the evidence of internal sabotage against Corbyn.
Morag Slater, a mediation consultant, was also hired to investigate the leak.
A redacted section of the secret document reads, “Ms Slater concluded that it was not possible to discern any prima facie case of wrongdoing on the part of any employee.”
Slater concluded that there was “no question of any employee being subject to disciplinary proceedings.” Yet the party rejected her report, which it alleged was “seriously inadequate.”
The secret document concludes by asking the Information Commissioner’s Office for a meeting. It is marked as a “draft,” but The Electronic Intifada understands the final version was sent soon after.
The Labour Party, the ICO and Morag Slater did not reply to requests for comment.
The new revelations on how much money Labour has spent to pursue whistleblowers will be of deep concern to remaining members.
The secret document argues that Labour’s finances are “under serious threat” due to the withdrawal of “significant donors” during the Corbyn era and the sceptical attitude of unions towards Starmer.
Starmer’s own confrontations with the Unions have seen a massive reduction in Party funding bringing Labour close to bankruptcy.
Only this week, Sharon Graham — the union chief who replaced Len McCluskey last year — stressed that Sir Keir’s party needed to “act like labour, be the party for workers” and accused Coventry council of “mistreatment” of members.
“Let me be very clear – the remaining financial support of Labour Party is now under review,” she said in a message on Wednesday evening.
“Your behaviour and mistreatment of our members will not be accepted. It’s time to act like labour, be the party for workers.”
But in an interview with the BBC, Sir Keir said: “The Labour Party I lead is not going to be influenced by threats from anybody, whoever they are.
“And that’s just an absolute matter of principle for me. So this is very, very straightforward,” he said on Thursday. “It’s not about the you know, the particulars of a dispute here or dispute there. I am not prepared for the Labour Party I lead to be threatened by anyone. Period, full stop.”
The Labour leader added: “We’re not going to be influenced by those who say, you know, we’ll only provide money if you do X. No.”
In reality, the Labour Party along with Starmer’s fellow Trilateral Commission member Lord Mandelson would dearly like the excuse to find funding from corporations, mainly those that Mandelson and his lobby group Global Counsel represent.
Mandelson is not only a Labour peer and a close confidant of Sir Keir Starmer, but he is also a lobbyist who represents banks, oligarchs, and firms like Centrica—the company behind the mass sacking of British Gas engineers—is helping to direct Labour strategy. For his ‘day job’, Mandelson owns and runs a company that takes Michael Gove to dinner and hires former Tory Ministers; as a hobby, he tells Sir Keir Starmer what to do.
Then you ask why the U-turn on Labour’s energy Nationalisation policy!
Starmer’s bad choices have led to a mass exodus of members. This is the death throes of the Labour Party as a working-class political organisation. For the new Olicharchy, this is just another step towards their ultimate manifesto, a return to the politics to the liberal elite, where only those that have wealth and therefore more to lose and in their opinion, have a stake in democracy, will have a say, only their voice will count, ours will be to do or starve.