Fair Trial and Labour’s ‘fast track’

A note on Labour’s ‘fast track’ disciplinary process and Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Labour’s disciplinary determination process for complaints that allege prejudice or harassment were changed at Conference 2019. The investigation is conducted by staff, who then present a charge and proposed sanction to a panel/sub committee of the NEC Disputes committee who then make a judgement and impose a penalty (or not). This decision is subject to appeal to the NCC on specific criteria, …one of which is that, the case fails to meet the condition that, “There is sufficient evidence in documentary or other recorded form to reasonably conclude that the charge is proven and justify the sanction proposed;” This  latter caveat is commonly misunderstood.

Article 6 of the European Convention, the right to a fair trial, states that,

    1. In the determination of his civil rights and obligations or of any criminal charge against him, everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law. Judgment shall be pronounced publicly but the press and public may be excluded from all or part of the trial in the interest of morals, public order or national security in a democratic society, where the interests of juveniles or the protection of the private life of the parties so require, or the extent strictly necessary in the opinion of the court in special circumstances where publicity would prejudice the interests of justice.
    2. Everyone charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law.
    3. Everyone charged with a criminal offence has the following minimum rights:
      1. to be informed promptly, in a language which he understands and in detail, of the nature and cause of the accusation against him;
      2. to have adequate time and the facilities for the preparation of his defence;
      3. to defend himself in person or through legal assistance of his own choosing or, if he has not sufficient means to pay for legal assistance, to be given it free when the interests of justice so require;
      4. to examine or have examined witnesses against him and to obtain the attendance and examination of witnesses on his behalf under the same conditions as witnesses against him;
      5. to have the free assistance of an interpreter if he cannot understand or speak the language used in court.

Labour’s “fast track” process does not meet these requirements; most egregiously it denies people the right to defend themselves and to choose their representatives and common practice i.e. the endemic leaking breaches the accused’s right to both a fair trial but also their right to a private life.

At the time, Mike Katz of the JLM, feared that the NEC was incapable of an independent decision, I am not sure if the evidence proves him right or wrong.

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