An internal document pertaining to anti-semitism inquiry inside the UK Labour Party has revealed that investigations into accusations of racism were thwarted by internal opposition to the leadership of former leader Jeremy Corbyn, a report seen by Sky News revealed on Sunday.
The inquiry, which concluded in the final month of Corbyn's tenure as party leader, discovered that no current or former staff were “motivated by anti-Semitic intent” when dealing with anti-semitism complaints.
It also found that there was “no evidence” of anti-Semitism accusations being given different treatment than any other form of complaint.
The 860-page report does conclude however that factional hostility towards Jeremy Corbyn from former senior staff contributed to "a litany of mistakes" in dealing with anti-semitism.
A lack of “robust processes, systems, training, education and effective line management” was detailed in the report as well as “abundant evidence of a hyper-factional atmosphere prevailing in Party HQ” towards the then Labour leader which “affected the expeditious and resolute handling of disciplinary complaints", according to Tom Rayner at Sky News.
The vast document, which pulls together 10k internal staff emails & thousands of leaked staff whatsapp messages, concludes factional hostility towards Corbyn amongst former senior officials contributed to “a litany of mistakes” that hindered effective handling of AS complaints pic.twitter.com/LWspU1c7KC— Tom Rayner (@RaynerSkyNews) April 11, 2020
Thousands of private WhatsApp messages and up to 10,000 emails between senior party members were reportedly uncovered, identifying individuals who gave whistleblower evidence to the BBC Panorama documentary about antisemitism within Labour.
The individuals include Lord McNicol, who served as the party's General Secretary from 2011 - 2018, and former acting head of the governance and legal unit Sam Matthews.
Lord McNicol is reported to have provided "false and misleading information" to Mr Corbyn's office surrounding antisemitism complaints, leading to a lack of appreciation for the "the scale of the problem" by the leadership.
McNicol and staff in the Governance and Legal Unit "provided timetables for the resolution of cases that were never met; falsely claimed to have processed all antisemitism complaints; falsely claimed that most complaints received were not about Labour members and provided highly inaccurate statistics of antisemitism complaints".
While speaking to Sky News, Lord McNicol said that it was "deeply troubling" the amount of energy gone into investigating emails as opposed to challenging anti-semitism in the party.
Sam Matthews is also said to have "rarely replied or took any action" against complaints of anti-semitism.
"At least half of these warranted action, many of them in relation to very extreme forms of antisemitism, but were ignored. Almost all of these complaints were forwarded from one inbox to another, and many of them were identified as Labour members and sent to the Head of Disputes, Sam Matthews, for action", the report claims.
Matthews rebuffed the report, telling Sky that the document was an attempt by a "disgruntled faction" to distract from the wider EHRC investigation.
"I hope Keir Starmer will stand by his commitment to undo the damage that they and their supporters have caused", he said.
The report claims that the private messages reveal that senior former staff "openly worked against the aims and objectives of the leadership of the Party" and that key staff were actively working against the aim of winning the 2017 general election.
Examples of other factional opposition include: Deputy Leader Tom Watson acting as provisional leader following a 2017 election defeat, withholding crucial information from the leader's office, discussions not to act disappointed that the party did better than expected, direct insults towards Corbyn allies such as calling chief advisor Seamus Milne "Dracula", and attempting to block left-wing MPs from the front bench.
According to Sky, those involved in the dossier's production directly addressed the EHRC and have claimed that its purpose was to provide additional context to the equalities watchdog and contribute to existing submissions to the investigation into the anti-semitism scandal.
The intention of submission to the body is made evident when the report urges skepticism of the "validity of the personal testimonies" from former staff members and to prioritise "documentary, primary-source evidence that the Party has made available".
Party lawyers intervened to prevent the document titled 'The work of the Labour Party's Governance and Legal Unit in relation to antisemitism, 2014 - 2019' from being delivered to the EHRC, over fears that it could damage the party's reputation, according to the Sky News report.
While Corbyn supporters are lauding the document as proof of how anti-semitism was weaponised against the former leader. The report does acknowledge the existence of widespread anti-semitism in the party
For the few people I see claiming this report backs up any suggestion there was a ‘witch hunt’, I’ll point you to this bit of the dossier - “the report’s findings prove the scale of the problem, and could help end the denialism amongst some part of the Party membership” pic.twitter.com/qBPp2CqYL2— Tom Rayner (@RaynerSkyNews) April 11, 2020
The organisation Campaign Against Anti-Semitism has called for new Labour Leader Keir Starmer, who has pledged to combat anti-semitism within the party, to release the report in full.
The report comes just after Corbyn said during an interview on Friday after he stepped down as leader that internal opposition cost the party avictory in the 2017 election.
Jeremy Corbyn's tenure has leader was plagued by accusations of fostering or active involvement with growing anti-Jewish racism within the Labour Party, leading to resignations by MPs in protest against his leadership.
Supporters however have pointed to Corbyn's historic opposition to anti-semitism and support for Jewish groups in Britain as proof that the accusations are baseless.
Former Labour MP and Corbyn ally Chris Williamson, described the accusations as a “witch hunt" against the former leader prior to the 2019 December election, where the party suffered its worst defeat since 1935.