Labour urged to be “honest and transparent” over the Panorama case

Elliot Chappell
Sign up to LabourList’s morning email for everything Labour, every weekday morning.

In the latest in the Panorama libel case row, Momentum’s national coordinating group has issued a statement saying that members deserve to know “whether or not these settlements were in line with the legal advice the party received”. Calling for the party to be “honest and transparent”, the left group’s governing body has demanded that Labour publish this advice. The comments from the NCG follows remarks from both the former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Unite general secretary Len McCluskey, who’ve said the advice suggested that Labour had a strong defence. This is controversial as critics of the decision to settle have said it represents a waste of members’ money. At the same time, reports in this morning’s papers suggest that the potential payouts for further legal action being taken against the party, many related to the leaked antisemitism report such as that involving former general secretary Ian McNicol, could amount to £8m.

Meanwhile, Labour’s Jo Stevens has called on Ofcom to review Russia Today’s licence to operate in the UK, following the publication of the report by the intelligence and security committee. Keir Starmer raised the issue in this week’s PMQs, challenging Boris Johnson to “stop the spread of Kremlin-backed disinformation” and adding that a 2018 High Court ruling had found that RT broadcasts “pose actual and potential harm”. Shadow Culture Secretary Stevens did the media rounds this morning to discuss the letter she penned to the communications regulator, highlighting that RT has committed “over 20 breaches” of broadcasting code. RT hit back to say that Stevens “knows nothing about the law”, and suggested ominously that “something would happen to the BBC” in Russia if its license were taken away.

The Labour Party has continued its focus on education, with Kate Green giving her first interview since taking up the post as Shadow Education Secretary. She slammed the government for its approach to schools and for a “wasted summer”, with poor holiday catch up provision and no “plan B” for what will happen if the UK sees a surge in coronavirus cases later in the year. And Labour also launched a campaign on higher education yesterday, setting out seven tests to make sure that students and universities are “safeguarded from the economic impact of this crisis” – including a demand that no university should be allowed to go bust.

In other news, allegations of gerrymandering by a Tory council leader and Conservative group of councillors are to be investigated following a letter sent to the PM by local Labour MP Jon Cruddas. The accusations follow the release of a 32-minute recording of a Tory Party meeting, in which the leader of the council is heard discussing how he had influenced the local boundary review to make it “politically advantageous” for the Conservatives. And as the rules on mandatory face coverings in all shops comes into force in England today, lots of businesses have said that they won’t be enforcing it. Unions have warned that retail workers should not be made responsible for enforcing the law, with Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis saying this could be a “flashpoint” for abuse of staff. Sign up to LabourList’s morning email for everything Labour, every weekday morning.

More from LabourList