As the Jeremy Corbyn, Legal fighting fund reaches £100,000: We look at the background surrounding this case and the necessity.
The move follows the Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer going against legal advice and then agreeing to settle out of court both with John Wear and former Labour Party staffers, the so-called Panorama Antisemisem whistleblowers.
The legal action followed the broadcast in a July 2019 edition of the programme titled “Is Labour Anti-Semitic?”.
Katherine Buckingham, Michael Creighton, Samuel Matthews, Daniel Hogan, Louise Withers Green, Martha Robinson and Benjamin Westerman all claimed to have concerns there was “a lack of commitment” by Labour to properly investigate anti-Semitism within the party, the High Court heard on Wednesday.
At the same hearing, Labour also apologised to Ware the journalist who made the programme – for falsely accusing him of “deliberate and malicious misrepresentations designed to mislead the public”.
The party agreed to pay “substantial damages” to the journalist.
Labour has declined to reveal the payout amount given as part of the settlement.
When asked about speculation that it amounted to as much as £600,000, Starmer’s spokesperson told reporters: “There’s no point [in asking] because I’m not going to get into the figures or even speculate.”
It also issued an unreserved apology over “defamatory and false allegations” made following the investigation.
In reply Corbyn said it was “disappointing” that his party had settled the claim, adding that it was a “political decision, not a legal one”.
A statement from Jeremy Corbyn and other Labour party sources, including a former member of the party’s national executive committee, said the decision to settle was apparently taken despite the party having received “clear advice” from its own lawyers that Labour would have won in court.
Now Panorama reporter John Ware is now taking legal action against former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, his lawyer has confirmed.
Again these are some of the same staffers mentioned in the Labour Leaks, the damning report that goes into detail of the alleged actions of how these same staffers worked to stop the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn from winning the 2017 general election. A general election that was so close under 3000 votes would have made the difference.
The testimony of Ware’s “whistleblowers” has also been brought into question by a leaked report, documenting a culture of intense factionalism at Labour’s Southside headquarters during the period in question. The report drew heavily upon WhatsApp conversations between former Labour staffers, including several of Panorama’s witnesses. Nobody has questioned the authenticity of those messages, which paint a deeply unflattering picture of the protagonists not least of their track record when it comes to issues of racism and antisemitism in the Labour party.
By not taking the legal advice and fighting the case Sir Keir Starmer has effectively thrown Jeremy Corbyn under the bus it also places the Labour Party’s position and all its machinery into a position where they cannot support or defend Corbyn because on behalf of the Party Starmer has settled out of court in effect admitting liability.
Jeremy’s Legal Fund
To help Jeremy Corbyn showing support and solidarity Carole Morgan organised a fundraiser to fight the Libel case John Wear has brought against Jeremy Corbyn. The fund has done spectacularly well, in less than 2 days it has raised £100,000 given Jeremy Corbyn a good start at defending himself.
Ware has produced at least two documentaries on the Labour Party in recent years.
In 2015, Ware reported for Panorama on Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign to be elected as Labour Party leader. The programme, entitled Jeremy Corbyn: Labour’s Earthquake, attracted hundreds of complaints, including from Corbyn’s campaign team, and was described by a member of Corbyn’s campaign team as “containing factual inaccuracies” and “a complete hatchet job“.
In 2019, Ware reported on antisemitism in the Labour Party in an extended Panorama programme entitled Is Labour Anti-Semitic?.
The programme was nominated for two 2019 British Journalism Awards in the ‘Investigation’ and ‘Politics Journalism’ categories. The Labour Party strongly condemned the report, describing it as containing “deliberate and malicious representations designed to mislead”, with the party alleging that “Panorama has pre-determined the outcome of its investigation and is relying on unsubstantiated allegations and misrepresentation to come to its conclusions”.
Labour submitted a formal complaint about the programme to the BBC, but the BBC’s Executive Complaints Unit rejected this. Over 20 complaints of bias were taken to Ofcom, who ruled that the programme had in fact been “duly impartial” and had given appropriate weight to Labour’s position.
Following the programme, five of the whistleblowers announced their intention to sue the Party, claiming that Labour’s response breached its commitment to protect the rights of whistleblowers and ‘defamed’ them.
Ware himself has also launched legal action against the Labour Party, alleging it had libelled him in statements following the broadcast of the programme. On 22 July 2020, the Labour Party retracted a number of allegations that it had made in relation to both John Ware and a number of participants in the Panorama documentary in full, issued a formal apology, and agreed to pay damages and costs.
John Ware is also suing Press Gang
John Ware has issued a claim for libel against Press Gang editor Paddy French.
Ware seeks £50,000 in damages over a Press Gang pamphlet criticising the Panorama anti-Semitism programme in July 2019. Press Gang is contesting the action.
Ware v French will now go to court for the first stage this autumn.
This appeal is to help pay the substantial costs of instructing solicitors and counsel to fight the proceedings.
Ware’s action concerns the Press Gang pamphlet “Is The BBC Anti-Labour? — Panorama’s Biased Anti-Semitism Reporting: A Case To Answer” published last December.
This was a critical analysis of last year’s Panorama programme “Is Labour Anti-Semitic?”
The Press Gang pamphlet weighed up the evidence and took a critical view of the programme. Support for Press Gang editor Paddy French can be found here.
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