Name and Seumas: Labour to Reveal Corbyn Advisor Milne Among Leakers of Party Probe
The April 2020 leaks of evidence submitted to the Forde Inquiry into alleged anti-Semitism in Labour's ranks indicated that senior party officials worked to sabotage left-wing former leader Jeremy Corbyn's 2017 general election campaign.
Five former aides to suspended ex-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn are set to sue the party over plans to name and shame them over leaks of an embarrassing internal probe.
reporter and columnist Seumas Milne, who served as Corbyn's strategy and communications director from 2015 to 2020, is one of the five people named by news site LabourList
and famous litigation lawyers Carter-Ruck on Monday as targeted by Sir Keir Starmer's
The leaks detailed how party officials worked to sabotage Corbyn's campaign in the 2017 snap general election, which Labour came very close to winning and left then-prime minister Theresa May needing support from the Democratic Unionist Party after the Conservatives lost their majority.
They are "considering bringing legal claims against the party over its victimisation of them and for breach of their confidentiality" according to sources quoted by LabourList editor Sienna Rodgers.
The other four are Corbyn's former executive director at the opposition leader's office Karie Murphy, Georgie Robertson — now a media officer at anti-death penalty campaign Reprieve's
US branch — Harry Hayball and Laura Murray.
by Carter-Ruck on Monday said Labour would file documents at the High Court that day blaming the five for the April 2020 leak of submissions for the report entitled The work of the Labour Party’s Governance and Legal Unit in relation to antisemitism, 2014 – 2019
— which has yet to be officially released.
"They strenuously deny, and have consistently denied, any involvement or complicity in the leak whatsoever," the statement read. "They also deny having any knowledge of who was responsible."
"The individuals entirely reject these baseless claims," a spokesperson for the five litigants said. "They did not leak the report. They fully cooperated with the Party’s investigation by an independent external investigator, and with the inquiry led by Martin Forde QC."
"They understand that neither of those investigations concluded that they were responsible," the spokesman stressed. "The Party has already acknowledged in court that it cannot be certain who leaked the report and that its 'case' against them is circumstantial".
'Labour Strike' Takes on New Meaning
Labour general secretary David Evans announced 90 redundancies
at the party's head office on Victoria Street, Westminster earlier this year after paying out £2 million in legal fees and compensation to those named in the leaks. The lay-offs prompted members of Labour-affiliated trade unions Unite and GMB to vote for strike action
at the party HQ.
Labour is trying to make the five "foot the bill for legal action brought against it," their spokesperson said, adding: "The Party should be focussing on the deeply troubling evidence contained with the leaked report, rather than trying to wrongly scapegoat and victimise former staff who documented it, and who have not been accused by either of the independent investigations."
The damning leaks coincided with Starmer's election as party leader, replacing Corbyn who stepped down in the wake of the Conservative Party's landslide win in the December 2019 election.
One of those named in the leaks was former Labour executive director Emilie Oldknow, the wife of shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth and currently a senior official in the Labour-affiliated health and local government union Unison.
Oldknow unsuccessfully sought a court order earlier this year to force Labour to reveal the names of those it "reasonably believes" were behind the leak. But Justice Tipples said there was a "real risk" that innocent individuals would be smeared as a result.
The 860-page Forde report was originally intended as Labour's submission to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report into allegations of anti-Semitism in Labour's ranks.
26 September 2021, 16:33 GMT
Whitewash or Purge?
his predecessor Corbyn's suspension from the party and its Parliamentary group in October 2020 over comments he made in response to the EHRC report's release.
Left-wing Labour MP Jon Trickett tweeted on Monday evening of his fears that the delays in publishing the report meant it was being "whitewashed" — and threatened to release all evidence he and allies gave to the inquiry.
Corbyn's former shadow chancellor John McDonnell
and Richard Burgon, secretary of the Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs, echoed Trickett's call for the Forde Inquiry to publish its report quickly.
Labour National Women's Committee member Pamela Fitzpatrick tweeted her support for the five in the small hours of Tuesday.
Laura Murray is the daughter of Corbyn's former political advisor Andrew Murray, chief of staff at Unite and formerly chair of the Stop the War Coalition. Her mother is psychologist Susan Michie
, a member of of the government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) and also its counter-group Independent SAGE, which has attacked the government over its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Milne and Murray were both involved in the Straight Left faction of the now-defunct Communist Party of Great Britain — although Milne was never a party member — which opposed the 'Eurocommunist' wing which dissolved the party in 1991.