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MP CHRIS WILLIAMSON lost his High Court bid to be reinstated to the Labour Party today after he was suspended for trying to defend the party’s anti-racist record – even though a judge said the party should never have re-suspended him after its original decision to reinstate him.
However Mr Justice Pepperall ruled that “the Labour Party acted unfairly in that there was no proper reason for reopening the case against Mr Williamson.”
The Derby North MP was suspended in February after he claimed that Labour had been “too apologetic” over its long record of fighting anti-semitism.
He was readmitted to the party and issued with a formal warning following a hearing of a national executive committee (NEC) anti-semitism panel in June.
However he was suspended again in July after a pile-on by right-wing MPs spooked the party into a U-turn.
Labour also imposed a separate suspension on September 3 over additional allegations of misconduct.
At a hearing in September, Mr Williamson’s lawyers argued that his treatment had been “manifestly unfair” and asked the High Court to declare his suspension from the party void.
In relation to Mr Williamson’s original suspension, Mr Justice Pepperall ruled: “Having communicated the panel’s decision as final, the Labour Party acted unfairly in that there was no proper reason for reopening the case against Mr Williamson and referring the original allegations to the (national constitutional committee).”
But the judge added: “While the Labour Party is no longer able lawfully to pursue the original disciplinary case against Mr Williamson, that does not afford him immunity from any subsequent disciplinary action.”
The judge also found that there was “nothing in the new allegations, the timing of the letter of September 3 or the decision to suspend that entitles me to take the view upon the papers that the Labour Party is acting either unfairly or other than in good faith.”
He added: “I therefore refuse relief in respect of Mr Williamson’s recent resuspension. The new disciplinary case must run its course.”
In his ruling, Mr Justice Pepperall stated: “It is important to stress at the outset of this judgment that this case is not about whether Mr Williamson is, or is not, anti-semitic or even whether he has, or has not, breached the rules of the Labour Party.
“The issue is whether the party has acted lawfully in its investigation and prosecution of such charges against Mr Williamson.”
In a statement issued by his lawyers after the ruling, Williamson criticised Labour’s disciplinary procedures and called on the party to lift his suspension.
He said: “I welcome the court’s recognition of the unfair manner in which I have been treated by the Labour Party in this process.”
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