This is utterly despicable behaviour by the Labour Party.
I had hoped to write a glowing review of the leaked Labour action plan to reform the way the party investigates allegations of anti-Semitism.
But reading the document has revealed shocking failures in the way the party handled the complaint against me that suggest a horrific level of corruption.
According to the document published by the Huffington Post, the complaints team currently logs each complaint alleging anti-Semitism, assigning it to an Investigations Officer (IO).
It states: “The Investigating Officer reviews the information provided and applies a set of tests to determine whether, on the evidence provided, there is a prima facie breach of the Party’s rules.” This clearly did not happen in my case.
The evidence against me was the Campaign Against Antisemitism’s smear article about me, published in order to harm my chances of being elected to Powys County Council in 2017, and the piece obligingly includes links to my own articles.
Anyone following those links would have realised that my words, as featured in the smear piece, have been doctored – altered to produce a misleading interpretation that was not what I intended. The only logical conclusion, having seen this, would have been that there is no prima facie case to answer.
Instead, Labour rushed to suspend my party membership. To me, this suggests corruption for political purposes. It is known that I belong to the left of the Labour Party (and the centre-left of politics in general), and it seems that right-wingers in the party’s administrative echelons thought they could use the false allegation of anti-Semitism to get rid of me.
“In almost all cases where the evidence is documentary (social media/email), the respondent will be provided with all the evidence which has been used to make the decision to take further disciplinary action along with a set of questions which they are asked to respond to within 14 days.” I received a printed copy of the CAA smear piece and notice of my suspension. There were no questions.
Why not? It seems extremely strange that an allegation as serious as that against me would not prompt even the mildest curiosity on the part of the investigator as to my side of the story. It turned out that they simply didn’t want to know, as you will discover. In the meantime, I was told I could not take part in party affairs and left in the dark for five months.
“Once these answers are provided, the Party will normally have enough information to conclude the matter either by ending the investigation or by writing a report to go to the next quarterly meeting of the Disputes Panel.”
As I was never sent any questions to answer, the Party did not have any evidence from me and could not end the investigation or send a report to the Disputes Panel (although, considering what was done with the information when I did finally have a chance to provide it, the Disputes Panel might as well have considered it immediately). What was going on? All I can suggest is that the process was delayed in order to keep me suspended for as long as possible.
“In rare cases, the respondent’s answers require further interrogation; this may be done via an interview or more likely via further correspondence.” Interrogation! What an interesting choice of wording. As mentioned, I never received any questions by mail or email correspondence. In October last year I was summoned to an interview at Transport House in Cardiff, Labour’s Welsh HQ. I attended, with a friend who was to act as a silent witness, and spoke almost non-stop for 100 minutes, answering questions that were presented to me blind – I had no idea what they would be, in advance of the interview, and I was never told exactly how they related to the allegations against me. At one point I asked the IO whether he had read my articles and he replied that he had not; he had merely been told to highlight passages in particular articles of mine and to ask me about them. I noticed also that he was not taking many notes. In hindsight, it seems he had been instructed to listen for particular answers and to note whether he received them or not. My guilt, I think, had been decided in advance of the evidence and he was just there to confirm it.
“The NEC’s Disputes Panel consider a report on the matter at their next meeting, which may be as many as 17 weeks away, and decide whether there is a case to answer and therefore refer the matter to the National Constitutional Committee (NCC) to be dealt with under their rules… This generally takes the form of a hearing.” My interview was in October 2017 and the NEC considered the report in January 2018 – around 10 or 11 weeks later. This consideration was carried out, not as part of the main agenda, but under “Any Other Business”. This means no papers were provided to members before the meeting and they relied on a verbal report from the IO. As I understand it, this person relayed none of the information I provided in my interview, preferring only to quote the CAA’s smear piece and saying my answers were “vague”. Readers of my articles on the subject will know that I am anything but “vague” about it. In those circumstances, though, it is no wonder that NEC members came to the wrong decision. As I suggested, it seems the intention was to find me guilty, no matter what evidence was put up in my defence.
“The IO then formulates the finalised charges; NEC’s opening submission to the hearing and the bundle of evidence and supplies to the secretary of the NCC.” This never happened in my case. The NEC simply found against me and – after spirited defences by some members – decided to lift my suspension only on condition that I attend “training” at the hands of the highly questionable Jewish Labour Movement – which of course I declined. I wonder whether there was an intention to put me in a situation I could not tolerate, as an incentive for me to leave the Party of my own free will. Not likely! It would have appeared to be an admission of guilt and, as you may have noticed, I’m determined to establish my innocence.
Now we move on to some of the recommendations:
“This document recommends that the NCC is asked to make greater use of provisions … which allow the NCC ‘in what they deem to be appropriate circumstances, to dispose of a case without hearing and to rely solely on written representations’. While there are some cases which this would not be appropriate for, the evidence in the vast majority of current antisemitism cases is entirely documentary and it would therefore be appropriate for the NCC to make use of these procedures in order to speed up the process.” No, thank you! If anything, procedures should be altered to ensure that the respondent has more opportunity to address those who are likely to judge a case, not less. In my case, I had absolutely no opportunity to attend any hearing at which my case was considered. That is not justice. That’s a stitch-up.
“NCC cases are delayed because they have taken on a litigious nature, meaning that respondents sometimes invest in extensive legal representation and take out court injunctions to delay cases to provide maximum time for solicitors to prepare cases… Respondents should be reminded of their right to bring other types of representation – e.g. Trade Union representative – that are not a lawyer to their hearing.” At a time when the Party itself is lawyer-ing up? Is this deliberately intended to put the respondent at a disadvantage? If one side has legal representation, all sides should have it. Anything else is an offence against natural justice.
“There is a perception that cases are not dealt with in a consistent manner due to political forces influencing decisions with particular respondents – particularly at the NEC Disputes Panel stage of the process. Recommendation: The reports on antisemitism are anonymised when they are put to the 3 member antisemitism panel in a similar way to how names are redacted from papers which go to the NEC Sexual Harassment Panel.” I’m not sure how this would work, but it does seem the best recommendation in a bad bunch. I’m sure my own case was affected by political forces. Remember how the report to the NEC Disputes Panel was skewed against me, and I couldn’t put it right because I was not allowed to attend? After the NEC heard this pack of lies and made its decision, both were then leaked to a newspaper reporter who then used it to libel me. This was obviously not an accident. Somebody on the NEC made a conscious decision to use the findings of the NEC’s kangaroo court against me in the press. That doesn’t happen without malicious intent.
Finally: “Respondents seek public attention to campaign against their suspension, which in turn creates wider problems both for themselves and other Labour Party members who campaign on their behalf. Recommendation: All parties should be reminded that public conduct may adversely impact progress of an ongoing investigation. Such conduct may appear to be grossly detrimental to the Party.”
I’ll accept no lectures from anybody in the Labour Party about public conduct.
I initially found out about my suspension from a newspaper reporter who telephoned me because the Party had contacted him to tell him about it immediately after emailing the notice of my suspension to me. I had not seen the email and had no opportunity to digest what was happening before this man dialled me up and demanded a response. Was that good public conduct? I think not.
The organisation whose article triggered my suspension – the Campaign Against Antisemitism – took glee in reporting the Labour Party’s actions against me, despite knowing that there is no factual basis for them. Labour’s recommendation seems to be suggesting that I should do nothing in response to this casual flouting of the facts. Is that good public conduct? I think not.
The Labour Party itself passed defamatory information about me to a third party – that’s libel – which allowed The Sunday Times and several other right-wing papers in turn to libel me as a Holocaust denier. Was that good public conduct? Of course not.
And it seems to me that there is a threat in that recommendation. Public campaigning is said to create “wider problems both for themselves and other Labour Party members who campaign on their behalf”. Why? Because Party officers and representatives will take note and take action against such people? “Such conduct may appear to be grossly detrimental to the Party” – this is a clear threat of expulsion.
But giving newspaper reporters prior notice of a member’s suspension is grossly detrimental to the Party. What punishment was given to the officer who did that? Libelling a party member in the press is grossly detrimental to the Party. What punishment was given to the member(s) who did that? In fact, the whole manufactured anti-Semitism row is grossly detrimental to the Party but I see none of those responsible taking any punishment for it at all.
The whole case against me has been a corrupt farce from start to – well, the present day; there’s no end in sight, thanks to the current system.
It seems to me that I will be well within my rights to contact general secretary Jennie Formby, point out the huge injustices that have been done to me, and direct her to end my suspension and publish a full and frank public apology for the harm that the Party has done to me.
After that, I would want to see positive steps taken to identify those responsible and expose them to some proper justice.
That should not be too much to ask. But I’m prepared to bet it is.
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