Jeremy Newmark (centre) campaigning with JLM members in 2017 [Image: JLM/Twitter – from the JC].
UPDATE: The Jewish Labour Movement has published the following:
“Jeremy Newmark has announced his decision to step down from his role as JLM National Chair to enable him to act in a clear and individual capacity in seeking redress following the publication of historic allegations about him and others during his tenure at the Jewish Leadership Council. Jeremy has refuted these allegations.
“Jeremy has been in discussion with the JLM NEC about establishing the best course of action for the Movement since Wednesday. At all times Jeremy has been clear that the position of the Movement is paramount. The claims made by the Jewish Chronicle earlier today suggesting otherwise, and describing the content of those discussion as well as making the specific allegation that Jeremy had been asked to resign and refused are completely untrue.
“The NEC will ensure that the important work of the Movement continues, and we look forward over the coming months to campaigning in the local elections, fighting for the rights of affiliated organisations within the Labour Party’s democracy review, and continuing to ensure the Party take robust action against antisemitism.”
One of Labour’s most persistent problems, recently, has been persistent vexatious complaints of anti-Semitism against people who were innocent. It will be interesting to see if these reduce in number now Mr Newmark has resigned.
It’s probably a good thing that it is unlikely that Mr Newmark will stand again as a Labour candidate for Finchley and Golders Green, as LabourList suggests.
There’s already a petition to have Mr Newmark reported to Labour’s National Constitutional Committee, for possible expulsion from the party. This Writer might meet him there!
You can really understand why I didn’t want to go for ‘training’ with this organisation, can’t you? Especially under this leader!
Mr Newmark is facing serious allegations, backed up with documentary evidence – and is refusing to stand down as leader of the Jewish Labour Movement.
The organisation’s other leaders are worried about reputational damage, now that the allegations have come to light.
That’s fine, but let’s face the facts – thanks to Mr Newmark, the JLM’s reputation has been in trouble for a long time.
Senior Jewish Labour Movement figures have urged Jeremy Newmark to step down from his role leading the group following revelations in the JC.
But it is understood Mr Newmark has refused to resign as national movement chair.
Senior members of the group are now believed to be deeply concerned about the potential for reputational damage to the JLM if he remains in charge.
It emerged on Thursday that Mr Newmark, the former chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, was the subject of an internal audit into his conduct at the JLC.
The report alleged he had deceived the organisation out of tens of thousands of pounds and misled charities about the cost of the projects he worked on.
Following the revelations, JLM national executive committee members held an emergency conference call on Thursday night to discuss his future.
Only two of the JLM’s 18 NEC members are backing him and it is understood MPs in the group all believe he should go.
Jeremy Newmark: JLM leader accused of multiple deceptions [Image: PA].
It seems I was right to refuse ‘training’ at any workshop run by the Jewish Labour Movement under Jeremy Newmark, don’t you think?
The evidence suggests he’s a liar and a crook and I wouldn’t give tuppence for my chances if I put myself anywhere near a situation controlled by him and his cronies.
The big question with regard to this story is, why did the bosses of the Jewish Leadership Council cover up the alleged actions of Mr Newmark. It seems to indicate that they were complicit in attempts to defraud charities out of their money.
What do the London Jewish Forum and Chabad think of this?
And why did Labour allow Mr Newmark to rise to become a Parliamentary candidate for the party after his involvement in an organisation where he had close ties with a man who is now the Conservative Party’s chief executive?
I understand that cross-party working is sometimes necessary but I question this association.
Mr Newmark is also known to have perjured himself at an employment tribunal hearing, and there is also the question of a £3,000 taxi fare he is said to have avoided.
All in all, Mr Newmark seems an extremely shifty character, doesn’t he?
An internal audit into the conduct of Jeremy Newmark while he was chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council reported that he deceived the organisation out of tens of thousands of pounds and misled charities about the cost of projects he worked on.
The JC has obtained a devastating report into the alleged actions of Mr Newmark — who is currently chair of the Jewish Labour Movement and narrowly failed to win the Finchley and Golders Green seat for Labour at last year’s general election — between 2006 and 2013.
Details of the 2013 investigation have remained undisclosed for the past five years. But now the JC can reveal that Mr Newmark was alleged to have:
Billed thousands of pounds of “inappropriate” personal expenses to the JLC — including holidays in Israel and VIP transport for himself, his wife and their children
Withdrawn thousands of pounds of unaccounted for cash on JLC credit and debit cards while failing to provide receipts to justify this expenditure
Leased a new BMW car worth £46,000, paid for by the JLC, to which he fixed his own personal number plate — and then attempted to have his wife insured on the vehicle
Employed his wife’s fundraising and events consultancy firm, Secure Prospects, to run a JLC-backed educational project, paying the company more than £36,000 — in spite of concern expressed by the governors of two leading Jewish schools that the project was not being properly managed
Misled communal charities, including the London Jewish Forum and Chabad, over the true cost of projects in an attempt to secure larger donations
Attempted to cover up possible financial irregularities by blocking communication between the JLC and its auditors, after staff became suspicious about his conduct.
In order to avoid a scandal, the JLC’s trustees decided to keep Mr Newmark’s alleged behaviour secret and not inform the police.
The trustees — including former chairman Sir Mick Davis, who is now chief executive of the Conservative Party, and property tycoon Leo Noé — accepted Mr Newmark’s resignation on the grounds of ill health after his seven-year long stint at the helm of the charity.
When presented at the time with the evidence of the internal investigation, Mr Newmark is understood to have acknowledged that the picture it painted “did not look good”. But the JLM chair, who was elected as a local councillor in Hertsmere last year, has consistently denied any wrongdoing and insisted he left the JLC because he was suffering from diabetes. He had been diagnosed with the condition six months before his departure.
In a statement to the JC on Wednesday, Mr Newmark, 45, denied that he had misused JLC funds or claimed inappropriate expenses.
He also denied any wrongdoing surrounding the commissioning of his wife’s consultancy firm for a JLC project or the leasing of a £46,000 luxury car.
(Incidentally, this is the only definition of anti-Semitism anybody needs.)
Yes: This Writer agrees with the Jewish Labour Movement about something.
Of course, we split again over the details. Let’s look at the issue, as reported in The Observer:
The bitter Labour party controversy over antisemitism erupted again on Saturday night, as the main organisation representing its Jewish members accused the leadership of failing to deal with a “vast backlog” of complaints and of allowing a second inquiry into Ken Livingstone to get “stuck in limbo”.
The accusations from the national chair of the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM), Jeremy Newmark, came as party sources told the Observer that a group of members, including activists and councillors, was preparing legal action against the party for failing to act on complaints about antisemitic incidents, some of which date back more than six months.
Newmark said the delays in dealing with many cases raised serious questions about whether the party had learnt lessons after an inquiry last year by Labour peer and former head of Liberty Shami Chakrabarti.
Newmark said: “We remain seriously concerned about what is now a vast backlog of cases involving alleged antisemitism that appear to be stuck in the system, in some cases for over a year. That is not a good indicator of the party having embraced Shami Chakrabarti’s imperative to adopt a gold standard in dealing with antisemitism.”
Readers of This Site will be aware that I was suspended by the Labour Party at the beginning of May last year, based on a vexatious complaint of anti-Semitism that seems to have come from a so-called charity known as the Campaign Against Antisemitism.
It took a staggering eight months for this open-and-shut case to be heard by Labour’s disputes panel. We shall discuss the failings of the report to that panel momentarily. Let’s get back to Mr Newmark and some of the allegations to which he refers:
“We will be closely monitoring the outcomes of a number of high-profile cases due to be determined by the national constitutional committee over the weeks ahead. These include former Momentum vice-chair Jackie Walker and [activist] Marc Wadsworth [who are to contest the accusations].
“The second investigation into Ken Livingstone appears to be stuck in limbo.”
Last April, Livingstone avoided expulsion from the party after an NCC disciplinary panel ruled he should be suspended for another year for bringing the party into disrepute over comments about antisemitism, Hitler and Zionism. He was censured after having suggested that Hitler at one point supported Zionism, and for defending the Labour MP Naz Shah over an antisemitic Facebook post for which she subsequently apologised.
Livingstone’s defiant reaction to the suspension caused further outrage among Labour MPs, many of whom were already dismayed at what they saw as a far too lenient ruling. Corbyn said that the former mayor’s comments after the ruling would be the subject of further investigations by the NEC after representations from party members.
Several Labour MPs and senior officials have also expressed private concerns that – despite promises by the leadership to show “zero tolerance” in cases where antisemitism had been alleged – the party had been slow to investigate. In some cases where complaints had been found to have had substance, the party had recommended surprisingly lenient punishment.
It should be pointed out that anything Jeremy Newmark says should be taken with a pinch of salt. He was found to have lied while giving evidence at an employment tribunal in 2013, and it seems he is too keen to see anti-Semitism where it isn’t actually present.
Okay – there’s a lot to address here.
The case of Jackie Walker will be interesting because it arises from a so-called ‘safe space’ session of ‘training’ run by – guess who? – the Jewish Labour Movement. The organisation had claimed that attendees would be able to discuss their concerns about issues related to Judaism without fear of being attacked for it – then either allowed Ms Walker’s words to be recorded, or the organisation itself recorded her and released her words to the news media in order to present her as an anti-Semite.
That is not reasonable behaviour. It is deceitful to take words that are presented as discussion points and use them out-of-context to support a false claim about a person’s character.
Mr Wadsworth’s case arises from the launch of Shami Chakrabarti’s report into alleged anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, in June, 2016. Mr Wadsworth, a member of Jeremy Corbyn supporting organisation Momentum, attended and was handing out press releases from the organisation when he saw a reporter from the Daily Telegraph – a Conservative-supporting newspaper – handing a copy to Ruth Smeeth – a Labour MP who had resigned her position as a Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Shadow Scotland and Northern Ireland teams three days previously, in protest at Mr Corbyn’s leadership of the party, and who may therefore be said to have been an opponent of Mr Corbyn at the time.
He is quoted as having said: “I saw the Telegraph handed a copy of a press release to Ruth Smeeth MP; you can see who is working hand-in-hand.”
It seems clear that he was suggesting anti-Corbyn Labour MPs were working with the anti-Corbyn press to criticise him. Right?
In a statement released after the incident, Ms Smeeth tried to claim that: “I was verbally attacked by a Momentum activist and Jeremy Corbyn supporter who used traditional anti-Semitic slurs to attack me for being part of a ‘media conspiracy’. It is beyond belief that someone could come to the launch of a report about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party and espouse such vile conspiracy theories against Jewish people.”
“Media conspiracy”? When did Mr Wadsworth make that claim? He didn’t.
So her claim that Mr Wadsworth was making an accusation that Jewish people control the media – which is certainly an anti-Semitic trope – is, as journalist Craig Murray described it, “untenable”. He added that, considering the subject matter of the meeting and her own Jewish ethnicity, Ms Smeeth’s reaction may have been genuine, and “she read into the remark something not intended”.
Ken Livingstone’s words have been discussed exhaustively on This Site. His Labour Party membership was suspended by the party’s National Constitutional Committee on grounds that the controversy over his defence of Labour MP Naz Shah had brought the party into dispute. He had been accused of anti-Semitism, but it had been proved that he had not said anything anti-Semitic. The Guardian‘s report, that he was “censured after having suggested that Hitler at one point supported Zionism” tells only part of the story. The claim against him was initially that he was an anti-Semite because he had claimed Hitler was a Zionist – something he never did. Labour MP John Mann, oddly accompanied by a TV camera crew, claimed he said it in an incendiary confrontation on a stairwell but the facts proved otherwise. The grounds for his suspension were that he had upset the UK’s Jewish population – and this, too, is questionable as many British Jews came forward to support him.
The Guardian states that Mr Livingstone was also censured “for defending the Labour MP Naz Shah over an antisemitic Facebook post for which she subsequently apologised”. In fact, it was a tweet, stating that “The Jews are rallying” to vote in an online poll by John Prescott on the appropriateness of Israeli military action against Palestinians in 2014. The message was indeed anti-Semitic and Ms Shah was right to apologise for it. If she had said “supporters of Israel are rallying”, she would have been in the clear. According to legal opinion, criticism of Israel that alleges ill treatment of Palestinians (the subject of the discussion at the time) cannot be taken as evidence of anti-Semitism.
Mr Livingstone also defended Ms Shah for retweeting two images. One was controversial as it was a response to a plan propossed to the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset, to forcibly move Palestinians from the land that has been theirs for centuries, relocating them in neighbouring countries. The image proposed moving Israel – the whole country, physically – to within the borders of the United States (on the assumption that the US was Israel’s greatest ally). The idea is of course ridiculous and it would be inappropriate to take it seriously. The accompanying text drew flak for referring to the “Jews-only state”, but consider this: certain so-called representatives of Jewish people (including current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, come to think of it) like to conflate Israel with Judaism. It seems strange that certain organisations that demand the two should be intermingled should then complain about it.
The other image was of a man posing for a police ‘mug’ shot, above the words, “Everything Hitler did in Germany was legal”. Mr Livingstone was taken to task by Vanessa Feltz on her radio show over this image, which she claimed was an attempt to justify Hitler’s anti-Semitism. This was a huge mistake: The man in the image was Martin Luther King, and the point he was making was that actions that are entirely legal can still be entirely wrong.
Isn’t it curious that nobody has tackled Ms Feltz over her gross misinterpretation of the image? Has anybody even bothered to ask her, or is it only permitted to question the accused, and not the accusers?
The Guardian goes on to report Labour MPs and officials’ concerns that “despite promises by the leadership to show ‘zero tolerance’ in cases where antisemitism had been alleged – the party had been slow to investigate. In some cases where complaints had been found to have had substance, the party had recommended surprisingly lenient punishment.”
“Zero tolerance” with allegations? This implies that guilt is assumed, no matter what the evidence may be – which brings me to my own case.
Here‘s a site called The Red Roar, reporting my refusal to accept the disputes panel’s decision to give me a warning and send me for “training” with the JLM. It is inaccurate, or at least misleading by omission, in several places:
A Labour member accused of anti-semitism could face expulsion from the party after publicly refusing to take part in a training programme because it is run by the Jewish Labour Movement.
Party officials had recommended Sivier should be referred to the National Constitutional Committee, which has the final say on disciplinary matters. But several NEC members argued on Tuesday he should be given a second chance if he agreed to take part in training. It is unusual for the Disputes Panel to ignore the advice of Party officials, but it voted by 12 votes to 10 in favour of the compromise agreement.
Readers of This Site will know that I am not an anti-Semite. The allegations against me were entirely false.
If you’ve come late to the debate, or have only seen the other side of it, I recommend a quick trip here and here.
I’ve already mentioned the fact that it has taken Labour eight months to bring my case before the NEC’s disputes panel.
For nearly five of those months, I heard nothing from Labour at all. Then I was invited to an interview, to discuss the matter, and encouraged to bring evidence supporting my side of the issue, details of other people who could be contacted for supporting evidence, and a witness – who may not speak but may ensure that proceedings take place equitably.
In hindsight, I have no idea why I was invited to that interview; I might as well have stayed at home. My evidence was ignored; my documents went unexamined; my supporters uncontacted. And what’s the point of having a witness if she isn’t allowed to review the report to dispute panel members for accuracy?
The report delivered to the panel, as I understand it, dismissed nearly two hours worth of verbal evidence as “unclear”, and claimed that I did not understand why Jewish people might take offence at what I had said.
The reason they chose to take offence is perfectly clear: For political gain. My accusers did not want me to do well in the local government elections last May, so they released the article making their claim about me in the week before – to ruin my chances. This is against the law.
None of this information was provided to the disputes panel – and it seems that some of its members seem to assume guilt, simply from the fact that a complaint has been made. It can hardly be a surprise that they were not prepared to accept Mr Lansman’s argument – and that of others who were there – that I am innocent.
Indeed, it seems that some of the panel even took offence at attempts to introduce evidence I had given at my interview into their deliberations, as it had not been mentioned in the one-sided report they’d had from the officer.
Oh, and Mr Lansman didn’t put forward the proposal to give me a warning and send me for training – that was someone else.
No, it’s a reference to the evidence that JLM uses its “training” events to smear innocent people with fake anti-Semitism accusations (as Jackie Walker discovered).
Also, it is surprising that whoever wrote the Red Roar article apparently hasn’t read the allegations against me. That’s poor journalism. My statements about the JLM cannot be described as anti-Semitism as they do not fit any of the definitions; they are criticism of the JLM as an organisation, not Jews.
Sivier now faces being referred to the NCC, as recommended by party officials.
Yes indeed. Hopefully I’ll be able to inject some much-needed factual accuracy into this sorry saga. I am already calling for reform of the disciplinary procedure as it clearly causes injustice.
Those who spoke in my favour “understand” my decision and “applaud” my “strong principles”.
As for Mr Lansman’s agreement that Labour has a problem with anti-Semitism – he said it is on the rise nationally, and “it would be extremely surprising if it wasn’t also present in the Labour Party”. He didn’t say Labour had failed to address the problem, but did say “it has to be dealt with”.
He’s right – but not by automatically penalising anybody who has been accused. That merely encourages mischief-makers to make vexatious complaints in order to discredit people they don’t like – and that’s not acceptable.
Don’t forget that cases of apparently genuine anti-Semitism were discussed by the disputes panel and sent on to the Natonal Constitutional Committee last week. Where the party’s rules are clearly breached, it acts appropriately.
It is only in cases where the innocent are accused that Labour seems to tie itself in knots.
So, yes, I agree that Labour takes far too long dealing with these complaints. But Labour needs to reform its procedures to ensure that everybody who is accused can ensure that their case is heard fairly and that justice is served. That is not happening at the moment.
And that’s why I’m telling the disputes panel to think again.
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