Labour is seeking to boost transparency and confidence in its internal complaints process by releasing new information in accordance with legally-binding recommendations from the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
The following documents have been published by the Labour Party on its website today:
- The Labour Party complaint handling handbook
- The Labour Party complaints policy
- March 2021 disputes report
A party source said Labour has also simplified and improved its online complaints handling form and strengthened its social media code of conduct in its bid to improve processes for complainants and respondents.
A Labour Party spokesperson said: “This is all part of the action plan we have agreed with the EHRC and shows the positive changes we are making, including bringing more transparency to complaints handling.
“Under Keir Starmer’s leadership we are working hard to restore the trust and confidence of the Jewish community. And we are committed to improving our culture and procedures to root out antisemitism.”
When the EHRC found last year that Labour was responsible for unlawful acts in its handling of antisemitism cases, the body forced the party to put together an action plan for tackling antisemitism within its ranks.
The legally-required plan was developed in six weeks after the EHRC report on Labour antisemitism was published. It was sent for approval after being unanimously agreed by Labour’s national executive committee (NEC).
The plan commits the party to having an independent complaints process “up and running” and being used to determine all antisemitism complaints by December 10th, allowing time for a party conference to be held.
In the meantime, Labour said it would work on “independent elements” in the current process and Keir Starmer’s spokesperson said the party would clear the backlog of antisemitism cases despite concerns over procedures.
The paper disclosing details of cases reveals that 356 have been determined by disputes panels Labour’s of ruling body since May last year, with meetings held weekly over the year apart from in December and January.
According to the document, of the 356 cases:
- 70% involved allegations of antisemitism; 11% related to constitutional issues; 2% involved bullying and harassment; 2% involved anti-Black racism; and 2% involved Islamophobia;
- 26% resulted in expulsion; 10% in some form of punitive suspension; 10% were referred to the national constitutional committee (the NCC, Labour’s highest disciplinary body); 18% resulted in the issuing of an NEC formal warning; 18% in the issuing of a reminder of conduct; 8% in the issuing of a reminder of values; no further action was taken in 9% of cases.
Labour said that there are 25 active cases of alleged sexual harassment, three of which are new cases reported in 2021; and that five await an NCC hearing, six are paused and 14 are being investigated or await an NEC hearing.
The EHRC’s binding recommendations told Labour to engage with Jewish stakeholders, commission an independent process to “handle and determine” antisemitism complaints and sanction political interference in this process.
The EHRC action plan says its implementation in Labour will be monitored by the EHRC for two years, with the key dates for this process being April 29th, July 29th, December 10th this year and December 10th in 2022.
Labour committed to making “monthly returns” to the EHRC for the first six months and to report quarterly afterwards. The party will meet with the EHRC to discuss progress, at first bimonthly and later on a quarterly basis.
Jane Ramsey, who trained as a barrister, has been appointed by Labour as its new senior adviser on standards and ethics who will lead on the establishment of a new independent complaints process for internal disciplinary matters.