The suspension of the Labour whip from former leader Jeremy Corbyn is set to last for three months pending a parliamentary party investigation, though this timescale is “reviewable”, LabourList understands.
According to well-placed LabourList sources, Corbyn has been informed by chief whip Nick Brown that the whip is to be suspended for three months and that a probe will be conducted under Parliamentary Labour Party rules.
The whip suspension is to be kept under review, which means it is not a hard deadline and could be shorter or longer than the time period specified. It is understood that Corbyn’s team is challenging the contents of Brown’s letter.
Corbyn-supporting members of the national executive committee (NEC) also tonight wrote to general secretary David Evans, who made the original decision to suspend Corbyn over his comments on Labour antisemitism.
The joint statement describes Keir Starmer’s decision to withhold the whip following the lifting of Corbyn’s suspension as “an act of deliberate political interference in the handling of a complaint” and a “matter of double jeopardy”.
The NEC members say the continued whip suspension “flies in the face of natural justice”, “undermines the rule book” and is “the type of action found to be unlawful indirect discrimination by the EHRC report”.
They also argue that Starmer saying the current complaints process “does not have the confidence of the Jewish community” can be considered a “direct criticism of the decision reached” by the disputes panel this week.
Pointing out that the disputes panel received legal advice on the day and a recommendation from Labour’s legal unit including its head of legal appointed by Starmer, it accuses the leader of launching “an unacceptable attack on the lay volunteers”.
It also raises concerns over the potential for legal action against the party and the possibility that members of the Labour NEC panel will be “asked to give evidence in a court of law”, which is described as “unconscionable”.
The letter was signed by Howard Beckett, Jayne Taylor, Ian Murray, Andi Fox, Mick Whelan, Andy Kerr, Pauline McCarthy, Ellen Morrison, Lara McNeill, Mish Rahman, Laura Pidcock, Yasmine Dar, Nadia Jama and Gemma Bolton.
Commenting on the fresh developments and three-month guideline, Momentum co-chair Andrew Scattergood said: “The leadership are issuing their own ‘sanction’ outside of due process. The cracks are showing.”
Corbyn was suspended in October after claiming that “the scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents” in his response to the Equality and Human Rights Commission report.
The report on antisemitism within the Labour Party had found the party responsible for “unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination” and “serious failings in leadership” during the time that Corbyn was in charge.
Starmer’s spokesperson confirmed on Wednesday that the leader spoke to Margaret Hodge after the NEC ruling on Tuesday evening. It is understood that the veteran Jewish Labour MP said she could quit the party over Corbyn’s reinstatement.
Solicitors acting on behalf of Corbyn have written to the party calling for his whip suspension to be lifted, as they contend that the action constitutes political interference in a disciplinary process and goes against EHRC recommendations.
Local Labour parties on Thursday evening passed motions in support of restoring the whip to Corbyn, while Dulwich and West Norwood Labour passed a motion of no confidence in the general secretary by 87 votes to 34.