Gurinder Singh Josan elected as new chair of Labour NEC disputes panel

Sienna Rodgers
November 2021 Labour NEC meeting. © Twitter/@gsjosan

Gurinder Singh Josan, a Labour to Win activist supportive of the party leadership, has been elected today as the new chair of Labour’s disputes panel that oversees internal party complaints on the national ruling body.

The HOPE not Hate director and Sikhs for Labour vice-chair was elected by 18 votes to 9. He stood against TSSA’s Andi Fox, who was the candidate put forward by the Starmersceptic Labour left on the NEC.

Josan will replace Shabana Mahmood, who had served as chair after being elected by Labour’s national executive committee (NEC) in January 2021. Keir Starmer appointed her as Labour’s campaign coordinator in May.

The remit of the panel – now officially called the complaints and disciplinary sub-committee, has changed since last year – after a new process was introduced following the Equality and Human Rights Commission report.

In rule changes approved at conference in September by 74% to 26% of delegates, a system was introduced that enables independent oversight for Labour disciplinary cases related to protected characteristics.

It will apply to all complaints about antisemitism, Islamophobia, other forms of racism, sexual harassment, and discrimination on the grounds of disability, sexual orientation, age, religion or belief, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, marriage and civil partnership.

Labour’s disciplinary sub-committee will continue to play a role in the process, but a review panel of independent lawyers will make decisions on complaints relating to protected characteristics, and a new independent appeal board will hear appeals against decisions.

The disputes panel has been chaired by controversial figures within recent years, including Christine Shawcroft, who apologised and resigned from the NEC in 2018 after it was revealed she sent an email backing a party member who had recently been suspended over alleged Holocaust denial.

She was replaced as chair by Claudia Webbe that year. Webbe later became a Labour MP, but has sat as an Independent since being charged with harassment. Labour urged her to resign as an MP when she was found guilty.

Labour left NEC members have said there are outstanding complaints against Josan. Labour has declined to comment and it is understood no such complaint has ever reached a level where Josan has been informed of an investigation.

Reacting to Josan’s election, Luke Akehurst said: “This is brilliant news and one of those times when someone gets recognition they deserve for loads of quiet hard work – Gurinder has served on more disputes hearings than any other NEC member since his election in 2020.”

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