‘Hostility to Corbyn’ curbed Labour efforts to tackle antisemitism, says leaked report | Labour

A leaked internal report into Labour’s handling of antisemitism concludes that factional hostility to Jeremy Corbyn hampered the party’s efforts to tackle the problem.

The report does not name an author but was completed in the last months of Corbyn’s leadership. It was intended to be submitted as an annexe to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) inquiry into Labour’s approach to dealing with antisemitism.

However, it is understood it will not be sent, following an intervention by the party’s lawyers. The report’s conclusions clash with complaints of whistleblowers, formerly working for Labour, who told BBC Panorama last year there had been political interference in the process from the top of the party under Corbyn. Their claims were strongly denied by Labour at the time, which accused the BBC of bias and called for the documentary to be pulled.

The new internal report, seen by the Guardian, said it had found no evidence of antisemitism complaints being treated differently to other forms of complaint, or of current or former staff being “motivated by antisemitic intent”.

But the 860-page document said it uncovered many failings in the process for tackling antisemitism complaints before Jennie Formby, the current general secretary, took over in 2018.

The report said there was an “abundant evidence of a hyper-factional atmosphere prevailing in party HQ in this period, which appears to have affected the expeditious and resolute handling of disciplinary complaints”.

The report said it might not seem immediately clear why this is relevant but “many staff, including GLU [governance and legal unit] staff and senior staff with responsibility for managing and overseeing GLU, were bitterly opposed to the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, and seem to have been demotivated, or largely interested in work that could advance a factional agenda”.

It said: “At its extreme, some employees seem to have taken a view that the worse things got for Labour the happier they would be, since this might expedite Jeremy Corbyn’s departure from office. Further, there is little evidence of strong management of procedures, workloads and priorities in HQ, which also impacted GLU’s work.”

The report contains several leaked WhatsApp messages that show many senior officials were hostile to Corbyn when he took over.

It shows references to Corbyn-supporting party staff as “trots”, conversations referring to former director of communications Seumas Milne as “dracula”, and that he was “spiteful and evil and we should make sure he is never allowed in our party if it’s last thing we do”. There were also mentions of Corbyn’s former chief of staff Karie Murphy as “medusa”, a “crazy woman” and a “bitch face cow” that would “make a good dartboard”.

A Labour party spokesperson told Sky News, which first leaked the document: “The party has submitted extensive information to the EHRC and responded to questions and requests for further information, none of which included this document.”

Charlotte Nichols, Labour MP for Warrington North, said the report should be published in full. “Jewish members have a right to know what has happened and to see the evidence,” she said.

But Ian Austin, the former Labour MP who left the party over antisemitism and later called on people to back Boris Johnson, said the report was unreliable.

He tweeted: “In last days of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, Labour trawled through 10,000 emails and messages to produce a report into antisemitism that attempts to shield him and his supporters from any blame, and instead pin responsibility on whistleblowers and former members of staff,.

Eight whistleblowers told the BBC’s Panorama last year how they felt undermined by senior Labour bosses in their attempts to tackle antisemitism. They alleged that there was consistent interference in complaints and one key aide mocked their efforts.

Labour strongly denied the allegations of political interference and came out on the offensive, as it accused the BBC of bias and called for the documentary to be pulled.

Since taking over as leader, Keir Starmer told Jewish leaders he had asked for all outstanding investigations into antisemitism within the party to be “on my desk at the end of the week”.

After a video meeting, he said: “It was very important to me to seek to address the disgrace of antisemitism in our party as soon as possible. Today, I repeated once again the apology I made as soon as I was elected leader. Over the last few years, we have failed the Jewish community on antisemitism.”

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