This is peculiar.
The Labour Party has said it has suspended party members named in a leaked party report as having broken rules.
The claim, it seems, was not made voluntarily but in response to High Court litigation.
A party member named Mark Howell has brought a claim for breach of contract against the party, demanding damages as well as the expulsion of members who broke internal rules and a referral to the CPS for possible prosecutions.
He claims party funds and resources were deliberately deployed at the 2017 election, “not to win vulnerable seats presently held by rival parties but instead to increase majorities in safe seats of certain favoured party Members of Parliament.”
In other words, he says Labour breached its contract by sabotaging its election campaign in not trying to win enough seats to win a Parliamentary majority.
According to the Evening Standard:
The court heard three separate investigations have been launched by Labour since the report was leaked, while a written legal argument on the party’s behalf confirmed that members have been suspended.
“The party has promptly commenced an investigation into whether any members referred to in the Report have, based on the materials referred to in the Report, breached the Party’s rules”, it said.
“Some of the party members have been suspended from membership so far as it is necessary to do so to protect the integrity of the investigation.”
“To protect the integrity of the investigation” – to This Writer, that suggests the suspensions were of party officers who might have had a chance to interfere – such as those in the governance and legal unit, which investigates anti-Semitism accusations, among other complaints.
But it may also indicate suspensions of people suspected of leaking the report.
The party has faced multiple, insistent demands for suspensions over the allegations in the report but stonewalled – suggesting the latter is the more likely case.
Labour has insisted that no further hearings will be needed until its internal investigations – three of them – are concluded, around mid-July.
We’ll know the way the wind is blowing by then, in any event, depending on whether any of those accused of sabotaging the 2017 election or racially abusing Labour MPs end up facing expulsion or other punitive action – or if someone is named as the whistleblower who leaked the report.
And that should tell us everything we need to know about Keir Starmer’s position on this issue.
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