EHRC Report on the Labour Party

The EHRC have issued their report on antisemitism in the Labour Party, here is a mirror of their report and a .docx version …

  1. Investigation into antisemitism in the Labour Party .pdf  by the EHRC, a mirror copy
  2. Investigation into antisemitism in the Labour Party .doc made by me, I made a sha 256 checksum;

sha256 117DD401B45409CB166BC5C5A1904864C7251531B865AA76EA6DF435

They say that Labour needs to rebuild trust & confidence in the antisemitism complaints handling process, reform and provide education & training to compliants handling staff and monitor and evaluate the changes. They found that unlawful acts had occurred and therefore served an unlawful act notice on the Party. The Labour Party is now legally obliged to draft an action plan by Thursday 10 December 2020 to tackle the unlawful act findings that were made in this report. The action plan should be based on their  recommendations to avoid such acts from happening again.

Amongst the report’s findings, it makes clear that the European Convention’s free speech protections (A10) applies to all members also. The report also states that,

Article 10 will protect Labour Party members who, for example, make legitimate criticisms of the Israeli government, or express their opinions on internal Party matters, such as the scale of antisemitism within the Party, based on their own experience and within the law. It does not protect criticism of Israel that is antisemitic.

Article  10 refers to the European Convention on Human Rights,

Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.

From the Chakrabarthi report, on suspension and sanctions,

… an early lesson that any new General Counsel might offer his/her colleagues is on the application of the vital legal principles of due process (or natural justice) and proportionality. I hope that my earlier comments make clear that I do not subscribe to the view that every allegation of misconduct within the Party is a factional mischief, but nor do I feel that every investigation warrants immediate publicity (a punishment in itself), nor administrative suspension (with the inevitable shame and opprobrium that is likely to follow) – even if the allegation has attracted public controversy.

It is important to remember that the beginning of an investigation into alleged misconduct is just that.The making of a complaint marks the beginning, not the end, of a hopefully fair process that might end in a warning, admonishment, some further sanction up to and including expulsion from the Party, or exoneration and no further action whatsoever.

Once you understand these basic natural justice principles, you realise that administrative suspension from the Labour Party need not be employed every (or nearly every) time a complaint (however credible) is made against a member.

.. [courts] do not grant interim injunctions, nor … issue arrest warrants every time a complaint is made. The principle of proportionality requires some consideration of any grave and summary sanction that will no doubt have a detrimental effect on a person who is yet to be investigated, let alone heard.

I appreciate and believe that behavioural standards must be higher in a progressive political party than they are in the country generally. However, due process standards should be equally high. I find it regrettable, to say the least, that some subjects of recent suspension and disciplinary process, under the Party’s disciplinary procedures, found out about their suspensions and investigations as a result of media reporting rather than notice from the Party itself. Staff or elected officials should never feel it necessary (even during a pre-election media frenzy) – to operate a presumption of suspension. If anything, the presumption should be against interim suspension. The question should be about the seriousness of any immediate damage that the person subject to investigation might do to the Party if allowed to continue as a member in the meantime.

There have been a number of comments, here’s a link to Sanders and Oborne’s comments which points at the otherwise unstated fact that Formby and Murphy were right, things got better after McNicol left his post and this is stated without naming people in the EHRC Report.

JVL wrote a response on education, zero tolerance and culture,

Saving Education from the EHRC Report

I am writing a response, in which I wrote as a note that the report documents, missing and empty case files in the sample, deleted correspondence, no policy, so authority to act  only defined recently, i.e. after Formby took over, the department was under resourced, no record of decisions, inc. admin suspension, no policy on suspension, and implies that reputation has become a factor in decision making.

From the Report, this is edited in that some text has been omitted, the quote is taken from the Executive Summary (P7-9)

Complaints

An effective and transparent complaints process is critical to building trust with members and the general public, yet the Labour Party’s response to antisemitism complaints has been inconsistent, poor, and lacking in transparency. This is in direct contrast to the Party’s response to sexual harassment complaints, which includes a clear policy and procedure, guidance to complainants about what sexual harassment is, access to an independent specialist advice service and a dedicated portal for making a complaint. We found:

  • no clear, publicly accessible and comprehensive policy or procedure to explain how antisemitism complaints are determined
  • an unclear, inconsistent and inadequate policy and practice for updating complainants in antisemitism complaints and notifying them of the outcome of their complaint
  • inconsistent application of administrative suspensions
  • a lack of a clear and fair process for respondents
  • no clear guidance for the National Executive Committee (NEC) and National Constitutional Committee (NCC) on how to determine complaints
  • unclear decision-making by the NEC and NCC
  • inappropriate use of informal communications in the complaints process
  • inaction and delay on many complaints, and
  • poor record-keeping: this was evident in 62 of the 70 files in our sample.

Sanctions

it has been difficult to draw conclusions on whether the sanctions applied were fair and consistent. This is at least in part due to the failings identified in the complaints process, including the failure to publish a clear policy on how antisemitic conduct is sanctioned, the failure to provide adequate reasons for decisions, and poor record-keeping.

While the Party has recently introduced reforms, which improve the ability of NEC and NCC panels to decide cases and to expel members promptly when appropriate, problems remain. In particular, there is:

  • no clear, publicly accessible guidance for members on how antisemitic conduct is sanctioned
  • no clear guidance for decision-makers on how to decide on the appropriate sanction
  • a continuing failure to provide adequate reasons for sanctions, and
  • poor record-keeping, implementation and monitoring of sanctions.

We remain concerned that the current process does not ensure fair and transparent sanctioning of antisemitism complaints, and fails to implement the recommendations of previous reports.

 

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