Labour shock: Corbyn's top aide accused of trying to ‘interfere’ with antisemitism panel

Posted on Jul 20 2019 - 10:09am by admin

The emails which were obtained by Sky News relate to a discussion about the line-up of a panel due to hear cases related to antisemitism claims. Mr Corbyn’s chief of staff Karie Murphy said it was “absurd” the National Constitutional Committee (NCC) was able to “overrule” concerns raised by the leadership. Ms Murphy also suggested the trade union representatives on the NCC could “help” challenge the panel’s line-up.

A Jewish group said the emails show how the party wished to “interfere” in cases of antisemitism and will not allow “the NCC to be independent”.

The leaked emails are also likely to pose further questions regarding the alleged influence of Mr Corbyn’s closest allies over the party.

Ms Murphy’s email was in response to one from Labour general secretary Jennie Formby which also copied in director of communications Seamus Milne, policy adviser Andrew Fisher and Mr Corbyn.

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

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Extracts from the email were mentioned during the BBC’s Panorama episode on antisemitism within the Labour party but Mrs Murphy’s comments were not included in the broadcast.

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

Ms Murphy said the report was not “competent” and responded with a list of questions detailing what she thought was missing.

Challenging the report, Ms Murphy said in an email: “It doesn’t cover: Who sits on the NCC? What organisations do they represent?

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When are they elected? Or due for re-election. Are they accountable to the NEC? “

Ms Murphy also asked whether an “external legal challenge” could be used to change the personnel for a “very important” NCC panel hearing in July 2018.

She responded: “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.”

The hearing was for the case of activist Jackie Walker who was expelled from the party for alleged antisemitism.

A Labour Party spokesperson told Sky News: “The emails are entirely proper and show no attempt to interfere with any individual case. Rather, the General Secretary and senior members of Party staff were seeking to understand why the NCC was taking so long to hear cases.

“The speeding up of the disciplinary process is of significant concern to Jewish Community organisations and a key task of the General Secretary.

“Rather than seeking to protect alleged antisemites, Jennie Formby was clearly insisting that Jackie Walker’s case be heard swiftly, after the case had been delayed before Jennie Formby became General Secretary.

“Jackie Walker was expelled this year, while Jennie Formby was General Secretary. The email also shows Jennie Formby doing her job by acting to prevent any legal challenge to an NCC ruling on the basis of the make up of the panel.”

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