A former senior Labour staffer has taken the party to court in an attempt to require it to divulge the identity of the leaker of a report on antisemitism in the celebration that contained numerous personal WhatsApp messages.
The case is the current in a line of legal problems for the party stemming from the internal report, which concluded that factional hostility towards Jeremy Corbyn obstructed the celebration’s efforts to take on antisemitism.
The report, dripped to the media without redaction, included details of staffers’ personal discussions expressing hostility towards Corbyn or his close allies and complaining Labour’s better-than-expected efficiency at the 2017 general election.
The report reignited the row within the celebration over its handling of disciplinary cases and caused celebration members’ suspension.
One of those called in the report, Emilie Oldknow, who was when considered to be a severe competitor to be Labour’s basic secretary, demanded in a court hearing on Monday that the names of the leakers be exposed in order to provide her the choice of taking legal action against them.
5 confidential individuals who reject any responsibility for the leakage were also represented at the hearing. Legal costs are being funded by the trade union Unite, according to their lawyer, Jacob Dean.
Oldknow’s barrister, William Bennett QC, said the file was a “politically inspired hatchet job” that was “deliberately misleading and count on poorly acquired private correspondence”. Last April “a faction within the Labour party released the report to the media”, he stated.
Labour has stated it mores than happy to divulge its internal evidence to allow the leaker to be determined, though the celebration has said it wishes to stay neutral and has resisted attempts to send its own opinion on the leaker’s identity.
” We are totally content to divulge to Miss Oldknow and effectively disclose the underlying factual info, enabling her to identify the persons accountable for the leak,” the celebration’s barrister, Anya Proops QC, said.
But Proops stated it was “not necessary and not justified” for the party to offer its “subjective opinion on who is lawfully liable”. “The concern is that will draw us needlessly into a political debate that the celebration is naturally very eager to prevent.”
She said Labour’s position was that the leak was “certainly wrongful” and the report consisted of “substantial quantities of private personal information”.
Bennett stated Oldknow might not bring a claim against the leaker “till she understands who the offenders are, what they did and how”.
” It seems relatively apparent, or you might call it an educated guess, that these documents were dripped by people who were used by the Labour celebration back in March 2020, or serving as officers of the Labour party,” he said.
Dean stated the five impacted people had “cooperated completely with the different investigations into that leakage … on assurances of privacy”.
He said the “possible for injustice appears” if Labour was required to “divulge a mass of proof … from which the [party] has drawn specific conclusions in order to permit the candidate to draw her own, potentially various conclusions”.
Join said it was offering representation for the 5 individuals– as it would for all members. All five had actually denied dripping the report and participated in the inquiry in “good faith … on the understanding the examination would be private and protect their rights to personal privacy”.
It included: “The leaked report indicate many concerns, not least in regard to the costs of the Unite contributions to Labour for the 2017 general election project. As yet these matters are unanswered by Labour and the Forde questions is indefinitely postponed.” The Forde query is the independent examination set up by the Labour leader, Keir Starmer, into the report and Labour’s internal culture.
Join stated it was disappointed not to be permitted to intervene in the event on behalf of the 5 members, saying: “Today’s application was a balance between the personal privacy rights of employees, for whom the employer has a responsibility, and the rights of Emilie Oldknow and others who are called in the leaked report.”
The judge dismissed an application from the five individuals to intervene in the event and will reveal her decision on the disclosure on Tuesday morning.