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US NewsLabour antisemitism: Corbyn aide wanted to influence party’s panel

18:45  19 july  2019
18:45  19 july  2019 Source:   news.sky.com

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The Panorama programme revealed a toxic culture that merely reforming the party ’ s processes will not solve.

Labour ’ s antisemitism crisis continued to seethe over the weekend with the suspension of a mayoral candidate and fresh claims of aides of Jeremy The Sunday Times reported that two of Jeremy Corbyn ’ s aides intervened to lift the suspension last year of the left-wing Jewish activist Glyn Secker

Labour antisemitism: Corbyn aide wanted to influence party’s panel © PA Karie Murphy is chief of staff to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn's top aide instructed party officials to compile a dossier setting out how Labour's highest disciplinary body could be challenged, leaked emails have revealed.

Mr Corbyn's chief of staff, Karie Murphy, said it was "absurd" the National Constitutional Committee (NCC) - which operates independently of the party's governing body - was able to "overrule" concerns raised by the leadership.

She also suggested trade union representatives on the NCC might "volunteer to help" challenge the make-up of the panel.

A Jewish group claimed the emails show the party's leadership want to "interfere" over antisemitism cases and are "not prepared to let the NCC be independent".

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Until Corbyn ’ s rise to power, the Labour Party has been a solidly center-left party , occupying a space roughly akin to the Democrats under Bill Clinton. Corbyn , by contrast, is an old-school socialist — way to the left of Bernie Sanders — who has proposed nationalizing major parts of the British economy.

They are also likely to prompt fresh scrutiny of the influence of Mr Corbyn's closest allies over Labour's internal infrastructure.

Ms Murphy's comments were made in response to an email from Labour general secretary Jennie Formby, which also copied in director of communications Seamus Milne, policy adviser Andrew Fisher and Mr Corbyn, via a private email address.

The emails, obtained by Sky News, relate to a discussion about the make-up of an NCC panel that was due to hear cases related to antisemitism in July 2018.

The NCC alone has the power to expel members who have been found to have broken party rules.

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Extracts from the email chain were featured in last week's BBC Panorama on antisemitism.

Labour antisemitism: Corbyn aide wanted to influence party’s panel © Getty Karie Murphy

However, Ms Murphy's comments were not included in the broadcast.

The email chain from May last year was initiated by Ms Formby, who forwarded a report on the workings of the NCC that had been put together by a party official.

Ms Murphy responded by saying it was "not a competent report" , and outlined what information she felt was missing.

She wrote: "It doesn't cover: Who sits on the NCC? What organisations do they represent? When are they elected? Or due for re-election. Are they accountable to the NEC [National Executive Committee]? Are they answerable to the GSO [general secretary's office]? How can we challenge their decisions - ie can LP [the Labour Party] challenge them not a complainant or member but the GSO/Leader/NEC Chair".

Labour antisemitism: Corbyn aide wanted to influence party’s panel © Getty The email chain was initiated by Labour general secretary Jennie Formby

Ms Murphy also asked whether "an external legal challenge" could be used to change the personnel for an NCC panel hearing set for July 2018, describing it as "a very important hearing".

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"The very idea that the Chair [of the NCC] can overrule the GSO is absurd. I am sure one of the NCC members from a union would volunteer to help with this," she wrote.

The hearing in question was for the case of activist Jackie Walker, who was being investigated for alleged antisemitism and has since been expelled from the party.

In response, Ms Formby raised doubts about whether an external legal challenge would work due to the NCC's independence.

Labour antisemitism: Corbyn aide wanted to influence party’s panel © N/A Labour Party emails leaked to Sky News

But she concluded that "the NCC cannot be allowed to continue in the way that they are at the moment", adding that she "spoke with a couple of NCC members" in relation to the matter.

She went on to say she would be "challenging" the choice of personnel on the panel to ensure that it was not made up of the same people who had decided to expel two other members; Tony Greenstein and Marc Wadsworth, who had also faced accusations related to antisemitism.

Ms Formby also suggested that there had been a "deliberate decision" by the NCC to delay Ms Walker's case being heard for more than a year.

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The party leader withdrew his additional statement when it was clear it could not be agreed upon and instead, after a discussion that overran its allotted time by The Labour MP Stephen Kinnock, who has previously called for Corbyn to take more action over allegations of antisemitism in Labour , said

Corbyn backs a party rule change, put forward by the Jewish Labour Movement, that takes tougher line on antisemitic abuse. Joseph Glasman, of the Campaign Against Antisemitism , said the organisation would be filing complaints against Corbyn and Lewis to the Labour party .

"A delay for which Jeremy has of course had to bear the blame," she added.

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Labour antisemitism: Corbyn aide wanted to influence party’s panel
Labour antisemitism: Corbyn aide wanted to influence party’s panel
Labour antisemitism: Corbyn aide wanted to influence party’s panel
Labour antisemitism: Corbyn aide wanted to influence party’s panel
Labour antisemitism: Corbyn aide wanted to influence party’s panel
Labour antisemitism: Corbyn aide wanted to influence party’s panel
Labour antisemitism: Corbyn aide wanted to influence party’s panel
Labour antisemitism: Corbyn aide wanted to influence party’s panel
Labour antisemitism: Corbyn aide wanted to influence party’s panel
Labour antisemitism: Corbyn aide wanted to influence party’s panel
Labour antisemitism: Corbyn aide wanted to influence party’s panel
Labour antisemitism: Corbyn aide wanted to influence party’s panel
Labour antisemitism: Corbyn aide wanted to influence party’s panel
Labour antisemitism: Corbyn aide wanted to influence party’s panel
Labour antisemitism: Corbyn aide wanted to influence party’s panel
Labour antisemitism: Corbyn aide wanted to influence party’s panel
Labour antisemitism: Corbyn aide wanted to influence party’s panel
Labour antisemitism: Corbyn aide wanted to influence party’s panel
Labour antisemitism: Corbyn aide wanted to influence party’s panel
Labour antisemitism: Corbyn aide wanted to influence party’s panel
Labour antisemitism: Corbyn aide wanted to influence party’s panel
Labour antisemitism: Corbyn aide wanted to influence party’s panel
Labour antisemitism: Corbyn aide wanted to influence party’s panel
Labour antisemitism: Corbyn aide wanted to influence party’s panel
Labour antisemitism: Corbyn aide wanted to influence party’s panel
Labour antisemitism: Corbyn aide wanted to influence party’s panel
Labour antisemitism: Corbyn aide wanted to influence party’s panel
Labour antisemitism: Corbyn aide wanted to influence party’s panel
Labour antisemitism: Corbyn aide wanted to influence party’s panel
Labour antisemitism: Corbyn aide wanted to influence party’s panel
Labour antisemitism: Corbyn aide wanted to influence party’s panel
Labour antisemitism: Corbyn aide wanted to influence party’s panel

In its rebuttal statement following last week's Panorama, the Labour Party said Ms Formby's comments showed she was determined to ensure the NCC was held accountable for the length of time they take to hear cases, and to protect against legal challenge on the basis of perceived bias.

A spokesperson said: "Any allegation that there was any attempt to interfere with this case or support this individual is entirely untrue, as proven by the fact that the individual was expelled this year, while Jennie Formby was general secretary, after these disaffected staffers had left."

But Labour's former head of disputes, Sam Matthews - who broke a confidentiality agreement in order to speak publicly about his concerns over the party's handling of antisemitism complaints - told Sky News he was in no doubt that the leader's office were interested in seeing Ms Walker stay in the party.

Labour antisemitism: Corbyn aide wanted to influence party’s panel © N/A Labour Party emails leaked to Sky News

"I do not believe this was about expelling Jackie Walker more quickly, this was about keeping her in," he said.

"Why would you feel so strongly that you need to change the make-up of a panel that had rightly expelled Tony Greenstein and Marc Wadsworth, if your aim was to ensure Jackie Walker was also expelled?"

Mr Matthews denied the suggestion the Walker case had been delayed to cause problems for Mr Corbyn, saying it was a case that required more time to compile than those of Mr Greenstein and Mr Wadsworth.

Marie van Der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, told Sky News the email chain "clearly shows they want to interfere in the process - they're not prepared to let the NCC be independent".

She added: "There is no independence and this cover-up and conspiracy by them, and by Jeremy Corbyn's office, cannot continue.

"There must be independence and this is vital for the reputation of the Labour Party, and they must show that they take responsibility.

"Jeremy Corbyn has to accept personal responsibility in dealing with this as a matter of urgency".

MSN are empowering Women In Sport this summer. Find out more about our campaign and the charity fighting to promote the transformational and lifelong rewards of exercise for women and girls in the UK here.

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