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NINE black Labour MPs have written to Sir Keir Starmer to warn that the indefinite delay to the Forde inquiry risks giving a strong impression that the party is “not taking anti-black racism seriously.”
Diane Abbott, Dawn Butler, Marsha de Cordova, Florence Eshalomi, Kim Johnson, Clive Lewis, Chi Onwurah, Kate Osamor and Bell Ribeiro-Addy signed the statement over the delay of the inquiry’s conclusion.
The inquiry is looking into how an unredacted internal Labour report was leaked and shared over Easter weekend last year, which detailed allegations of racism against black MPs from some staff within the party HQ based on messages and emails.
The leaked internal report mainly focused on Labour’s handling of anti-semitism allegations. It was written by party staff amid the Equality and Human Rights Commission probe into the allegations.
Labour has been subject to legal action by staff named in the report who were suspended from Labour due to the derogatory messages.
Some of the staff members have been or are being readmitted to Labour. Their disciplinary cases were concluded at the end of January, when they were found to have broken party rules and were suspended for several months.
Martin Forde QC said that the conclusion of the investigation has been delayed indefinitely as it has “recently been made aware” that the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is investigating the same leaks.
Mr Forde, who was appointed by the national executive committee (NEC) to head the inquiry, wrote in a letter read out to the NEC on Thursday, that the report would only be released once the ICO inquiries wre “completed” and “resolved” to avoid affecting the outcome.
The nine MPs said the delay “risks further doubling-down on the impression that the party is not taking anti-black racism seriously.”
They added: “The possibility of a racist culture and a hostile environment for black members within the party needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency and the Forde inquiry is an important tool for doing that.
“The abuse contained within the [leaked] report and the issues it seeks to address are incredibly serious … The fact that members who contributed to anti-black racism have been readmitted to the party is a cause of concern and this delay only adds to the anxiety.”
Mr Forde had written in his letter that comments by some Labour members about the delay were “ill-informed speculation” and said the inquiry had been “fully occupied” with its work.
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