Labour May Lose ‘Millions’ in Lawsuits Related to Antisemitism Scandal: Report

HARLOW, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 05: Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn (L) and Keir Starmer, Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the EU look on prior to delivering a Brexit speech at the Harlow Hotel on November 5, 2019 in Harlow, England. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Nine new cases of legal action against Labour over breaches of privacy rules and data protection — related to ongoing antisemitism scandals — could allegedly cost the party “millions”.

Manchester-based law firm 3D Solicitors is representing the nine clients, described by The Observer as being former and current members of the Labour Party, who had, in confidence, reported claims of antisemitism to the then-party leader, Jeremy Corbyn. The nine individuals’ emails and identities were then leaked in April in an internal Labour report on antisemitism.

The 860-page internal report had attempted to shift blame away from Mr Corbyn, claiming instead that anti-Corbyn Labour figures had inflated the allegations to expedite the socialist’s departure from leadership.

While claims circulated in April that those named in the leaked report would be suing over breach of privacy, a source confirmed the move to The Guardian’s sister Sunday newspaper.

The source said: “This is about privacy and data protection. These were people who are or were normal party members and councillors who raised issues about antisemitism in good faith and confidentially with the party. They then found that they had been named in a report leaked deliberately, leading them to be abused on social media. No attempts, it seems, were made to protect their privacy.”

Another source close to the cases told The Observer on Sunday that depending on whether Labour settles or the complainants take the cases to court, it could cost them from hundreds of thousands to millions, causing concern for the left-wing party facing a series of regional, local, and police commissioner elections in 2021.

“If the party agrees to settle this, which it will if it has any sense, it will cost Labour a few hundred thousand pounds. If it reaches court and Labour loses, it will cost the party many millions,” the source said. An MP had told the Daily Mail in April that costs could be between £3 million and £8 million.

3D Solicitors’ nine clients, who will be taking their complaints to the party this week, are believed to be amongst a total of 30 planning to sue Labour as part of the ongoing controversy over the leaked report.

The report of legal suits comes after the party, now under the leadership of centrist Sir Keir Starmer, apologised to seven former Labour employees-turned-whistleblowers who revealed systemic anti-Jewish hatred in the Labour Party to the BBC’s flagship investigative news television programme, Panorama in July 2019.

Last week, Labour also pledged to pay “substantial” damages to seven antisemitism whistleblowers who sued the party for defamation, as well as to the investigative journalist who at the time had been accused of “inventing quotes”. That is expected to cost the party £500,000, and other civil cases against Labour could be made.

This is not the end of Labour’s woes, however, with the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) having released to the Labour Party its draft report on institutional antisemitism on July 13th, following 14 months of inquiry. The contents remain confidential for 28 days, during which the party can make written representations to the EHRC on its findings before the document is published, with potentially damaging revelations that could further destabilise Labour.

While Labour’s new leader has promised a party that will root out antisemitism in its ranks, it has suffered a series of embarrassing incidents amongst the party’s top table. Rebecca Long-Bailey, a Corbyn acolyte who had been groomed by the far-left Momentum pressure group to take over the party, was forced to resign from the shadow cabinet last month after sharing an article that repeated an antisemitic conspiracy theory. Fellow Corbynite Lloyd Russell-Moyle also resigned from his shadow cabinet post this month following discoveries of antisemitic post on social media — blaming, however, the “right-wing media” for forcing him out of his role.

No longer the party leader, Corbyn is still causing controversy. After Labour apologised and promised to pay damages to the seven Panorama whistleblowers, Mr Corbyn claimed the settlement gave “credibility to misleading and inaccurate allegations” about the party’s handling of antisemitism complaints. The lawyer representing Panorama journalist John Ware and the whistleblowers are planning to sue Corbyn for the remarks.

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