A leaked email from a senior Corbyn ally in Labour Party headquarters shows that he recognised that a controversial leaked report about the Party’s handling of antisemitism was misleading and that there may be adverse consequences following its dissemination.
Thomas Gardiner, who resigned a few weeks ago as Labour’s Director of Governance and Legal, is reported to have sent an email on 11th April to the Party’s General-Secretary saying that the report on Labour’s handling of antisemitism ought not to be circulated because emails and WhatsApp messages from Party staffers had been “presented selectively and without their true context in order to give a misleading picture.”
An unredacted version of the 851-page report was nevertheless leaked, giving rise to potential date breach claims that may cost the Labour Party millions of pounds in legal costs.
In his email, Mr Gardiner expressed concern that the report would “lay false blame” on him, that searches of staffers’ email accounts, including his own, were “not authorised” and “improper” and that use of confidential WhatsApp messages represented “a clear and unacceptable breach of confidence,” adding: “Further, these messages are presented selectively and without their true context in order to give a misleading picture.”
Although the report had by then been leaked, Mr Gardiner said “I realise it will not be helpful not to further use the report, given that it has apparently been leaked in a previous version, but I must register this formal objection.”
The report, which Campaign Against Antisemitism described at the time as “a desperate last-ditch attempt to deflect and discredit allegations of antisemitism”, was originally compiled for submission to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). On advice from Labour’s lawyers, the Party has not submitted the report to the EHRC.
The EHRC launched a full statutory investigation into antisemitism in the Labour Party in May 2019 following a formal referral and detailed legal representations from Campaign Against Antisemitism, which is the complainant.
Ms Formby has released a statement saying that the searches of staff email and social media accounts were authorised and were carried out in response to requests by the EHRC. Other allies of Mr Corbyn’s have reportedly claimed that Mr Gardiner had supported the compilation and publication of the report but rowed back only after it was leaked.
Labour is currently conducting an internal investigation into the provenance, leaking and content of the report.
In the first release of its Antisemitism in Political Parties research, Campaign Against Antisemitism showed that Labour Party candidates for Parliament in the 2019 general election accounted for 82 percent of all incidents of antisemitic discourse by parliamentary candidates.
Campaign Against Antisemitism’s Antisemitism Barometer 2019 showed that antisemitism on the far-left of British politics has surpassed that of the far-right.
Campaign Against Antisemitism advocates for zero tolerance of antisemitism in public life. To that end we monitor all political parties and strive to ensure that any cases of concern are properly addressed.