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Jeremy Corbyn loses bid for Labour to release documents before court battle

JEREMY CORBYN lost a bid today to force the disclosure of Labour documents ahead of his forthcoming High Court challenge to his suspension from the parliamentary party.

The former leader had applied for a “pre-action disclosure” ahead of potential legal action against Labour general secretary David Evans in order win the documents’ release.

The Islington North MP’s legal team sought the documents in the belief that they could prove that a deal had been agreed on his readmission to the party, before his successor Sir Keir Starmer refused to restore the parliamentary whip to him.

Mr Corbyn is considering legal action over his suspension from the parliamentary party, which could see him seek “an injunction to restore the whip immediately.”

Even though the pre-action disclosure application was unsuccessful, a case is expected to go ahead on the basis of the claim that the second removal of the whip was procedurally unfair.

In a ruling today, Judge Lisa Sullivan dismissed the application for release of documents and said: “Mr Corbyn has sufficient material to make a decision on the merits of his case.”

She said that sought-after papers also include documents sent by Dame Margaret Hodge MP and the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

Mr Corbyn was suspended by party officials in October for claiming that the scale of anti-semitism in Labour was “dramatically overstated for political reasons.”

Despite a panel of the party’s national executive committee (NEC)  deciding to readmit him after he clarified his statement, Sir Keir refused to restore the whip, ignoring a warning by the Equality and Human Rights Commission against political interference in such cases.

Labour Party lawyer Rachel Crasnow QC has denied claims that there was any deal or negotiation with Sir Keir’s team over Mr Corbyn’s readmission.

During the High Court hearing on the matter, she said there were no notes and or minutes from the meeting attended by deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner, Sir Keir’s chief of staff Morgan McSweeney, Unite union leader Len McCluskey and MP Jon Trickett after Mr Corbyn’s suspension.

According to the LabourList website, Mr Corbyn’s allies have claimed that the meeting led to an agreement on the wording of his clarification statement, posted ahead of his readmission to Labour, and to an agreement that “no further sanction was to be imposed.”

His lawyer Christopher Jacobs had argued that there are message and email “drafts and redrafts” of Mr Corbyn’s second statement, released on the morning of Labour concluding his disciplinary case, which should be disclosed.

A Labour spokesman said that the party welcomes the court's decision.

It is understood that Labour will seek to recover its legal costs from Mr Corbyn.

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