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Labour’s disciplinary process for investigating anti-semitism complaints ‘procedurally unfair,’ lawyers tell High Court

All eight claimants say Labour acted unfairly by failing to close investigations or revoke their suspension or expulsion

LABOUR’S disciplinary process for investigating complaints of anti-semitism is “procedurally unfair,” lawyers representing eight suspended or expelled members told the High Court today.

All eight claimants say Labour acted unfairly by failing to close investigations or revoke their suspension or expulsion after the equality watchdog found that the party’s disciplinary procedure was itself unfair.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) found there was “a lack of a clear and fair process for respondents” to allegations of anti-semitism in an October 2019 report, the court heard.

Following the report, the party said it accepted the EHRC’s recommendations and findings in full, with leader Sir Keir Starmer saying Labour would establish “an independent complaints process as soon as possible.”

The eight claimants, members of Labour Activists for Justice, who all deny they have made anti-semitic comments, argue the party is trying to “row back from these commitments,” which were made in “clear and unequivocal public statements.”

Two of the claimants — Diana Neslen, who was given a formal warning, and Colin O’Driscoll, who has been expelled from the party — also argue Labour acted unfairly by handling their cases under an unpublished code of conduct.

Labour argues it has treated all of the claimants fairly and their claim is a form of “lawfare” which is trying “to change the Labour Party’s policy direction on disciplinary matters, particularly with respect to Israel/Palestine.”

At a hearing in London today, the claimants’ barrister Maya Lester QC said the EHRC criticised Labour for having “no internal or published guidance on the criteria that the party would use to judge anti-semitism and how it would be sanctioned.”

She added that Ms Neslen and Mr O’Driscoll’s treatment by Labour had been “gravely unfair.”

Rachel Crasnow QC, representing Labour, said in written submissions: “The party has met its obligation to treat the claimants fairly.

“It has met the requirements of natural justice. The claimants have not suffered actual unfairness.”

She argued that “the claimants’ complaint is really that the party’s disciplinary processes should be different,” and accused them of having “political motivations in bringing this claim.”

The hearing before Mr Justice Butcher was due to conclude today and it is expected he will reserve his judgement to a later date.

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