The Labour Party have announced further delay in the issuing of the Forde Inquiry into the leaked document prepared for the General Secretary on antisemitism in the Labour Party. The Forde Inquiry reports this delay here, which includes the text of a letter to the General Secretary and a note for the NEC. I believe the report is essential for the Labour Party to begin to work together in a unified fashion and to genuinely begin to end factionalism. I believe it is important to do so and do so in a way that doesn’t involve one side winning. If wrong doing has occurred, it needs to be discovered and punished. The delay, it seems, is caused by a fear that premature publication would interfere with the ICO investigation. Some commentators dispute that this is the case. Forde says, in his letter to David Evans, hosted on the Inquiry site on a page named, ‘Update on the Forde Inquiry‘,

We have recently been made aware, however, that as a result of those potential breaches, the ICO has indicated it is making inquiries, pursuant to its statutory duties.  Having regard to the possible direction and outcome of those inquiries, we are therefore concerned that the publication of our report could prejudice those inquiries and our ability ultimately to deliver our final report to the NEC. 

We have considered whether any aspect of our report can be disclosed despite the existence of the ICO’s inquiries.  However, after careful consideration, we consider there is a real risk that even partial disclosure of our report and findings could have the potential to prejudice the ICO’s work.  As soon as its inquiries are completed, and resolved, we will provide a report. 

Dr Martin Forde

The ICO took about 13 months to complete their investigation into Dido Harding’s Talk Talk failure in 2015/6 and also attended a DCMS Select Committee hearing on the affair during the investigation. The Labour Party will have reported themselves to the ICO in April 2020, by law, within 72 hours of the breach’s occurrence. That might suggest there’s only a month or two to wait. It seems we have no choice.

Labour’s response will be complicated by the unhelpful legal intervention of some of the people named in the report; it is my view that the General Secretary had a right and a duty to examine Labour’s records in preparing evidence for the EHRC. Workplace correspondence belongs to the company and may be ‘trawled’ if there is reason to believe wrong doing has occurred. The idea that Labour had no right to look for this and find it is unserious. However, anyone named in the leaked document, including the accused will have a right to remedy, which may include compensation if the Labour Party are found to have placed inadequate technical and organisational controls on the document once constructed, or if the Labour Party is otherwise held to be responsible for its leak. I am curious what will happen if it is found that the leaker or leakers was/were entitled to see the document but bound to keep it secret. I find the legal advice not to submit it to the EHRC strange although the EHRC found that there was no policy in conducting investigations without this evidence and made clear that things, if only velocity, had improved once McNicol moved on.

The Forde Inquiry terms of reference state ask that it look into the structure, culture and practices of the Labour Party. This will include any racism within its staff management processes. I find it hard to believe that this cannot be released, and I for one, will be asking for standard corporate diversity reporting, on pay at least, in the NEC Annual Report.

News on the Forde Inquiry
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