Jackie Walker was right to withdraw from a prejudiced disciplinary procedure that makes a mockery of the Labour Party

Everybody who represents the Labour Party – in any role – should be ashamed of this.

Jackie Walker, the Jewish Labour activist who has been subjected to years of abuse after being accused of anti-Semitism for requesting an accurate definition of the offence, has walked out of the party’s disciplinary hearing against her, saying it was prejudiced against her from the start.

Her experiences, as recounted in this article on the Jewish Voice for Labour website, correspond very closely with my own. Her response to them leads me to regret that I did not abandon my own hearing when I realised it was a kangaroo court.

Ms Walker said the disciplinary panel refused to allow her to speak in her defence, and said she had been presented with a large amount of new evidence, only days ahead of the hearing.

This certainly rings true for me. Although I did not try to make an opening statement, as Ms Walker did, I was frustrated in my attempts to establish my innocence by constant interruptions from a panel whose chair was not interested in the evidence.

It seemed clear to me that the panel was under instructions to find against me, no matter what emerged during the hearing – and I note that Ms Walker feels the same way about her hearing.

I was not presented with new evidence days before the hearing; I was presented with it during the hearing itself, in contravention of Labour’s own rules on the presentation of evidence.

Those rules state that new evidence may only be admitted with the express consent of both sides in a dispute, and that time must be allowed for a response to be submitted before any hearing takes place.

This did not happen in Ms Walker’s case, nor did it happen in mine.

Ms Walker also fell foul of the definition of anti-Semitism adopted by Labour for its hearings, which is not the IHRA working definition that the party claims to have adopted last summer.

She wrote: “The LP now submits that the test to be applied to an allegation of antisemitism against me ‘does not require the NCC to engage in a debate as to the proper definition of anti-Semitism’ but rather whether an ‘ordinary person hearing or reading the comments might reasonably perceive them to be antisemitic’.  That is an extraordinary dilution of the adopted test of ‘hatred towards Jews’ which is a definition of antisemitism with which I wholeheartedly agree.”

In my own hearing, the accusation was that somebody (who was never identified and who therefore, legally, does not exist) felt offended or upset by words I had written on This Site.

I had constructed my defence around the IHRA working definition and was therefore wrong-footed by this sudden change of direction. I should have halted the proceedings at once but, perhaps foolishly, I wanted to try to end the matter in accordance with party procedures. What a shame the party’s own representatives had no intention of doing the same!

Ms Walker pointed out that she was given no advance notice of the names of the panellists who were to hear her case, so she had no way of checking whether they were likely to give her a fair hearing. This rings true for me, also.

If I had known the name of the chairperson of my own disciplinary panel, and had been given the opportunity to check her own behaviour in other disciplinary hearings, I would have refused to participate until a new panel was selected. There was clear evidence online, showing that she was extremely prejudiced and would not offer anything approaching justice.

I would be very interested to know the names of the panellists in Ms Walker’s case.

Ms Walker pointed to prejudicial comments made against her by Labour MPs. I have also suffered the attentions of Labour MPs who seemed to want to make a name for themselves by treating people who had merely been accused as if they were guilty.

But it did not occur to me that their comments might constitute a reason for a disciplinary panel to find against me. After all, there was already a directive from Labour’s NEC included in the charge sheet, to find against me, no matter what evidence was presented.

And I note with interest that Ms Walker said the Labour Party was guilty of data protection crimes regarding personal information about her that was held by the party. I am also pursuing the Labour Party over breaches of the Data Protection Act.

Put it all together and we see that Labour’s failure to follow its own rules, and its determination to smear party members who speak out about injustice, is not only habitual – it appears to be party policy.

It is a policy for which every single party representative should feel a deep and burning shame.

Those responsible for it should – if they had any moral backbone at all – resign from their positions and from the party at once. They won’t, I know – they will have to be identified and pursued. And that’s a difficult task when they are gleefully removing anybody who might be a threat to them!

But clear breaches of procedure have been identified here, and that should be enough to start a dialogue, at the very least.

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17 Thoughts to “Jackie Walker was right to withdraw from a prejudiced disciplinary procedure that makes a mockery of the Labour Party”

  1. Tina Johnston

    Witch hunt is the film to watch. Jackie comes over well and there is a real story here.

  2. I find the activities of the panel to be antisemitic. Going by their own rules it doesn’t matter whether they are or not. As a layperson, I find them to be, therefore the members of the panel should be investigated, predetermined to be guilty, invited for interview and expelled.

  3. SteveH

    I would be very interested to know the names of the panellists in Ms Walker’s case.

    LabourList has published the names of the panel. Readers should read the full article on LabourList it has a very concerning slant.
    those urging Walker’s expulsion will undoubtedly see the result of this hearing as a test and a deal-breaker. Insufficient disciplinary action against her would be “the final straw” for many concerned about Labour’s handling of antisemitism, as one person in that camp put it. LabourList understands that the three members on the Walker panel are NCC chair and Unite activist Anna Dyer; Russell Cartwright, who was accused of bias during Ken Livingstone’s NCC hearing; and the CWU’s Alan Tate.
    https://labourlist.org/2019/03/labour-under-pressure-as-jackie-walker-hearing-begins/

    1. Mike Sivier

      Russell Cartwright was on the NCC panel at my hearing; he was a yes-man for Maggie Cousins, or so it seemed to me. She had to prompt him to ask questions, and if I recall correctly they were all about why I felt the need to discuss Labour’s internal workings on anti-Semitism on This Site – questioning why I do my job, basically. Jackie Walker would have had no justice from him, I’m sure.

      1. SteveH

        I was quite surprised to find an editorial on LabourList that was so critical of the disciplinary process. The built in bias of the system is obviously too egregious for even the likes of LabourList to ignore

  4. I am probably being naive but why isn’t someone at the top of Labour ie the leadership & front bench (excluding Tom Watson) doing something about this miscarriage of justice? If Labour is a Democratic Party that it purports to be, then it should be standing up to these injustices including yourself, Jackie Walker, Chris Williamson, Marc Wadsworth, Ken Livingstone, George Galloway & Asa Winstanley??
    I would expect that the above named are not the only ones that have succumbed to a Labour Kangaroo Court.. This is not a good look for Labour IMHO

    1. Mike Sivier

      It’s a matter for Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee. I’ve been on good terms with Darren Williams, a Welsh NEC member, and he is taking an interest. I don’t know what the balance of power is, or why there’s such inertia in what seems to be clearly a matter of corruption. When I win my court case, I’ll want to attend an NEC meeting and make my opinion known.

  5. trev

    It’s like the Spanish Inquisition, and nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition….

  6. Peter King.

    I thought I belonged to a party that believed in fairness and justice. It apperes I was wrong.

    1. Mike Sivier

      The party does – if you think of the party as its rank-and-file membership. It’s just those in charge of the disciplinary procedures who are behaving in this aberrant, and frankly nauseating way.

  7. Lynn Dye

    And what makes this even more unfair and totally ridiculous is that Jackie herself is Jewish. Looks like we need a second disciplinary panel to deal with the actions of the first panel!

    1. Mike Sivier

      No – Labour needs to accept that it is completely incapable of carrying out an impartial investigation and hand over such matters to an independent organisation – or take them to the courts.

      1. Lynn Dye

        I agree wholeheartedly with you, Mike. My comment was meant to be very tongue-in-cheek.

    1. Mike Sivier

      There’s another update now that she has been expelled in her absence.

  8. SteveH

    Jackie Walker has been expelled from Labour – for “prejudicial and grossly detrimental” behaviour.

    Whatever that means

    The use of these entirely subjective so called crimes to eject members from the party is manifestly unjust.
    https://labourlist.org/2019/03/jackie-walker-expelled-from-the-labour-party/

    1. Mike Sivier

      It means they couldn’t expel her on a trumped-up charge of anti-Semitism because it didn’t exist at the time of the alleged offences (which weren’t offences at all).

      Article to follow.

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