BuzzFeed News has obtained hundreds of internal Labour Party e-mails revealing that Labour’s Compliance Unit took took months to act over antisemitism cases, including procrastinating for a year before eventually launching a formal investigation into comments by the disgraced former Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone.
The e-mails were passed to BuzzFeed News by a former Labour Party official and a member of the Labour International group, who both said that they wanted to expose failings in the Compliance Unit’s response to antisemitism complaints before Jennie Formby became General Secretary in April 2018.
According to BuzzFeed News, e-mails between two former senior members of the Labour Compliance Unit, Sam Matthews and John Stolliday, and other Party officials also show that the unit took more than a year to suspend a member who defended fascist participants in the 1936 Battle of Cable Street, and eight months to suspend a council candidate who posted an articleclaiming that the Holocaust was a “hoax”.
In the case of Mr Livingstone, BuzzFeed News revealed that Labour’s Compliance Unit failed to launch a formal investigation over comments he made while he was suspended.
According to the e-mails, in January 2018 concerns were raised with Laura Murray that Mr Livingstone was due to be readmitted to the Party in April that year, as his suspension for his comments claiming that Hitler supported Zionism was due to come to an end.
Ms Murray is the disgraced senior parliamentary aide to Mr Corbyn who was formally appointed to lead the Labour Party’s disciplinary process. She was exposed for intervening to prevent the suspension of alleged antisemite Pat Sheerin from the Labour Party. In leaked e-mails, she said that she intervened on behalf of Mr Corbyn himself.
The e-mails show that Labour’s Compliance Unit had received a number of further complaints about comments made by Mr Livingstone in interviews after his hearing at the Party’s National Constitutional Committee (NCC) in April 2017, but failed to order a formal investigation in the nine months that followed.
Compliance Unit official John Stolliday confirmed in an e-mail to Ms Murray that: “A second suspension was not applied, so he will come back into membership in April. The Party received a small number of complaints about his comments after the NCC hearing. We haven’t formally opened a new investigation yet, and that is a conversation we will have over here.” He added that the situation meant that Mr Livingstone was due to be “unsuspended shortly before the local elections.” He said that he recognised this was “not ideal in terms of campaigning.”
Ms Murray then asked Mr Stolliday if Mr Livingstone’s existing suspension could be extended. She wrote that it would be “disastrous for him to be reinstated as a member just two weeks before the local elections” and requested that the compliance unit inform her of its decision.
Yet Mr Livingstone faced no action until March when he eventually had his suspension extended, nearly a whole year after the new complaints were received and two months after Ms Murray’s request.
The former Labour official who passed BuzzFeed News the e-mails claimed: “Even after Laura Murray’s intervention, it still took the Compliance unit another two months to extend Ken Livingstone’s suspension, and that was nearly a year after they received the complaints. All the time the possibility of Livingstone being reinstated meant the party was being dragged through the mud in the press.”
In response to this expose, a Labour Party source told BuzzFeed News that since becoming General Secretary, Jennie Formby has sped up the process for dealing with antisemitism complaints. They claim that between April 2018 and January 2019, 96 members were handed suspensions and 12 were expelled.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission has begun pre-enforcement proceedings against the Labour Party following a formal referral and detailed legal representations from Campaign Against Antisemitism, which is the complainant. The pre-enforcement proceedings are a precursor to opening a full statutory investigation.
In recent months, eleven MPs have resigned from the Labour Party over antisemitism, along with numerous councillors and members.
Over 50,000 people have now signed our petition denouncing Jeremy Corbyn as an antisemite and declaring him “unfit to hold any public office.”