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Labour Party Shadow NEC

Demand for Natural Justice and Due Process

WARNING LETTERS following a suspension when no proper investigation has occurred and there is no right of appeal are NOT ACCEPTABLE. And will not be accepted. What is it that the NEC doesn`t get about that huh?

Keith performing at a Labour Party fund raising gig.

Another member treated so appallingly by the disgusting disciplinary system which is abusive to members (and continues to be even after they know the injustices they meted out)

Well this is odd. In September I was auto-excluded (expelled) allegedly for supporting another political party. I’ve just had a letter saying my administrative suspension (?) for allegedly contributing to a crowdfunding website (?) has been lifted with a formal NEC warning?! Both letters are from Iain McNicol.
As others have said, this is outrageous to be told it will be kept on file when I haven’t done anything and have had no chance to defend myself! But I’m more staggered by the sheer incompetence of lifting something that was never placed on me in the first place and for a different reason than initially given. I also can’t believe I’ve been through three months of hell with no apology!

Response to the suspension lifting with a warning letter:

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Dear Mr McNicol,


Thank you for your letter dated 19th December 2016. In the letter you state ‘I am pleased to inform you that your administrative suspension from the Labour Party has been lifted and that you are now free to resume active membership.’ You also state ‘You were suspended following allegations that you contributed to a crowdfunding website which directly contravened party rules by paying for membership of others.’


This is somewhat confusing, given that it contradicts the previous correspondence I received from you on 16th September 2016. In that earlier correspondence you stated ‘It has been brought to our attention with supporting evidence that you have publicly shown support for Socialist Worker.’ You go on to say ‘You are therefore ineligible to remain a member of the Labour Party.’


So in September I was auto-excluded for one charge, of which I am innocent, and in December you unsuspended me for a different charge of which I am equally innocent.


So was I re-admitted and then suspended without being informed? If so, can you tell me when this was? Or have you, in effect, dropped the first charge, re-admitted me, suspended me for a second charge and then unsuspended me all on the same day and this is what you are now communicating to me?


You claim there is an allegation I ‘contributed to a crowdfunding website which directly contravened party rules by paying for membership of others.’ This is untrue. Who made this allegation? Do you have evidence that was not revealed to me at the time of my recent Subject Access Request under the Date Protection Act (your letter dated 26 October 2016 from Mike Creighton)?

Or are you relying on the screenshot of a Momentum page on Facebook? If you are relying on the screenshot, you will clearly see that this does not demonstrate anything of the sort. The comment immediately before mine is not complete because it is too long to be displayed. If you were able to open that you would see that the person talks about being too poor to afford groceries. In context, my offer of ten pounds is clearly meant to go towards his grocery bill. In any event, he did not take me up on the offer and no money was paid. No crowdfunding website was ever involved; nor was the money anything to do with his membership. So every single word of the allegation is untrue.

Furthermore, in your letter dated 19th December, you say you ‘have considered it necessary to issue [me] with a formal NEC warning’. The rule you quote, ‘6.1.C’, states the NEC may issue a warning, but you say ‘I… considered it necessary’ to issue the warning. So was this issued by you or the NEC? Have the NEC discussed my individual case?


Either way I wish to raise an objection to this and request that this warning be removed, on the grounds that the allegation is unproved and therefore inaccurate. Additionally, no investigation into this allegation appears to have been undertaken and as a result, I have not been able to challenge the allegation or contribute any evidence to the investigation of it.


The Data Protection Act, within the provisions of Principle 4, states that information held by an organisation in relation to an individual must be accurate.


It is incumbent upon you as a data controller to ensure that this is so.
If you will not be undertaking an investigation into this allegation which I can contribute to then I feel I must point out to you that if an individual is not satisfied that you have taken appropriate action to keep their personal data accurate, they may apply to the court for an order that you rectify, block, erase or destroy the inaccurate information.


Please let me have a response to this letter within 14 days from the date of this email.

Keith Shilson

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Di, resigned from LP for fear cancer would return

di

Unforgettable memories. It was a privilege to have met Jeremy and to have talked to him at length about Cornwall's housing problems. How on earth he made time for us at the phone bank that night following his demanding day at Heartlands, I'll never know. He is an inspirational man - a politician who truly cares about people. I may no longer be in the Labour Party but I'll support him through Momentum and the social media to the best of my ability.

This woman suspended from the LP for `vile racist etc tweets`. Left waiting and waiting and waiting to have it overturned – no chance to get it sorted out. Untrue accusations. Di is very ill (cancer) and has spend decades supporting and working for the Labour Party 😦

She finally had to give up because the stress has started to affect her health – so she has resigned from the Labour Party.

I condemn the Labour Party for their whole extraordinary marathon suspension ` purging` of members without any care for due process or respect for natural justice.

This is unforgivable.

Shame on the Establishment Labour Party. Contact this woman NOW!
Re-instate her NOW.

Anyone involved at any time at any stage in this woman`s suspension is culpable in my opinion. I condemn the whole (non) process on the basis of this case alone – and I have many other equally appalling examples.

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Today I received my Subject Access Request (SAR) details and it appears my Facebook posts did not, as previously stated by McNicol, bring about my suspension. It was my tweets and re-tweets that brought about my downfall.

I attach pics and apologise for none of my comments except that had I noticed the words, “angela eagle rat”, I would not have re-tweeted it. All my tweets and re-tweets were made in response to the despicable conduct of those Labour MPs who have venomously attacked Jeremy Corbyn from the moment he was first elected as leader in September 2015.

If my tweets and retweets have been considered so abusive as to warrant my suspension, I am very glad I recently made the decision to quit the party and spare myself the ordeal of defending my online comments at a regional tribunal.

I still cannot believe the party I have supported for decades has been responsible for closing down freedom of speech for its members while giving full rein to Corbyn’s PLP detractors to bad mouth him on TV and in the Tory press.

The ‘old guard’ NEC and Iain McNicol have a lot to answer for.

UPDATE: Someone kindly pointed out something I had missed. The words ‘Angela Eagle rat’ were words the snooper software translated from the words, ‘Angela Eagle’ and ‘rationale’. So I hadn’t missed the word “rat” after all. Gawd – it’s beyond a farce now.


Di Coffey:

.This is a powerful piece of writing from Georgie Harrison who explains in graphic detail, the shock, the shame and the pain of being suspended from the Labour Party:

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‘My reply to someone who is mystified over why those of us suspended from the LP feel hurt as “Corbyn got elected anyway”

It hurts because it’s unjust. It hurts because we are viewed with suspicion by others – ” no smoke without fire” and all that.

It hurts because prior to the shenanigans of the NEC & the 172 PLP members treacherous behaviour we had thought that the Labour and Trade Union movement was the one body we could rely on for democracy and fairness. It hurts because many Corbyn friendly delegates were unable to attend conference with resulting voting rights.

.It hurts because many of us were booked into conference and then informed we were non compliant and refused entry. It hurts because we are not able to attend LP meetings or have official contact with our comrades in the party.

It hurts because we cannot get involved in campaigning. It hurts that we have not been given proof of our alleged misdemeanours. It hurts because the LP are still removing our subs via direct debit.

It hurts that we are forgotten and unfairly dismissed as abusive or racist – particularly galling when we have been victims of racism and abuse ourselves. It hurts because nobody replies to our emails.

It hurts that you question why we are hurt. Most of all it hurts that our integrity has been brought into question when we are all decent and loyal human beings. Does that answer your question?’

Georgie Harrison :

My family and work deserve the best of me and this will not be possible if I succumb to another breakdown courtesy of the LP.  My medication has already been doubled due to the LP efforts to discredit me.

peer

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Natural Justice NOW

Demand for Natural Justice and Due Process

CLICK HERE TO SIGN STATEMENT

This Group is dismayed by the actions of Iain McNicol in his role as General Secretary and the manner in which the administration of the Labour Party has been used to suspend or expel thousands of members.

The NEC has fallen short in ensuring that any and all suspension and expulsions are carried out with respect for due process and natural justice.

We have been made aware of a list of tweets and posts supplied to NEC members and used to justify and rationalise the manner in which the Compliance Unit and the NEC panels conduct the disciplinary affairs of the Party.

We wish to make it clear that we condemn any process used by the Labour Party that is not in deference to due process and natural justice. Due process and natural justice MUST be the over-riding framework for all and any investigation.  We hold the NEC and the General Secretary responsible for the way this large scale action is affecting thousands of our members.

Regardless of whether we personally, or collectively, condemn many, the majority, or all of the tweets and posts provided to the NEC members as a justification we wish to categorically state that we condemn the process that has been used to deal with the problem.

Mr McNicol cites the rule book and the right for the NEC to automatically suspend a person if they are bringing the Party into disrepute.  Firstly to use this as a justification for immediately suspending members is an abuse of the trust given to the NEC to deal with any clear cut case that meets that criteria. It is obvious to the `man in the street` that the spirit of that option is given in good faith and trust to allow for instant action in exceptional cases. We consider that the Labour Party itself has been brought into disrepute by the use of this trust to suspend or expel FOUR THOUSAND members.

We have had brought to our attention dozens of cases of people being suspended or expelled for spurious reasons, for retweets or reposts which may show support for the sentiment of another Party on for example, green issues, or even to express displeasure of the sentiment (for example UKIP tweets and posts).  Equally we have examples of people whose health and wellbeing is affected to the extent they have taken the decision to resign from the Labour Party because the stress of the long drawn out process is aggravating their condition. We condemn the use of instant administrative suspensions by the Labour Party.

There are many issues related to this debacle: the lack of due process; the lack of natural justice; the issue of data protection violations.  Just one case where any single of these is lacking is sufficient to bring the whole system into question.

Further, we have been told that the NEC considers that `this should never happen again`. INDEED. To that end we wish to make it clear that we expect an open and transparent investigation to look at how this came about, how it is allowed to continue and what went wrong.

We are very concerned, dismayed, that such trust given to the General Secretary to apply instant suspension or expulsion has been applied to justify the expulsion or suspension of 4,000 members. We therefore also consider that Chapter 6 of the rule book is completely overhauled to reflect the members disquiet on what we consider to be an abuse of this trust.

We demand that the Labour Party now constructs a transparent, clear process of dealing with any cases of discipline. We must have a new system that has at its very foundation: Natural Justice.

click here to sign statement

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Stop running to the Press

When accusations are made it is crucial that we respect the principles of due process and allow a fair and balanced investigation to explore all the evidence, the nature of the complaint, the context AND do not judge and or give evidence to the media. That is if you are motivated to shift society`s reflection of sexual inequality that can still be seen within the party.

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There are, of course, various degrees from banter flirtation, flirtation that comes close to the line of using power, right through to sexual harassment.  It is wrong not to have a system that helps and supports people who are receiving unwanted attention and the labour party has acted quickly to provide that. BUT equally we must allow protection for the accused also and  space to answer the accusations and for an independent process to examine all aspects.

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Sexual Harassment Policy  

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Maria Carroll is one of our team who has worked tirelessly to get the labour party to overhaul the complaints system for all members that it respects due process and natural justice. Our work on that continues.

We have been witness to endless bad practise by the compliance unit when it comes to administering investigations and our work to get that reformed is ongoing.  Many of the stories we have dealt with and are still dealing with can be found in this blog.  We are motivated by a core sense of justice and we are all horrified by the lack of care and respect for people being accused of sexual harassment. The specific policy on sexual harassment includes now an independent process separate from the compliance unit.

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Here Maria Carroll expresses our concerns about  people  not respecting due process and running to the media:

There are those who need to use the media to be heard because no one will listen. There are countless incidences of whistleblowers who have only achieved justice through the assistance of the media.

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The media does have a place on whistleblowing when people are not heard. IMO this issue is not one of those cases. Since bringing their concerns to light complainants have achieved much – a new independent and confidential service has been established and a new process for dealing with complaints. Details of that have been sent to every party member and anyone with concerns has been given the chance to come forward.
Therefore I cannot see a reason why today an MP, at this very difficult time, has taken her concerns of past matters to the press and not to that established service we have fought to achieve.

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The person complained about is once again publicly placed at risk. The investigation and any subsequent process has been placed at risk. How does anyone get a fair hearing when all this is going on?

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The systems of justice in this country are such that victim and accused are afforded the protections of fair process. Media is restricted in its reporting. Witnesses are restricted in their reporting too. These same restrictions must be placed on people in the Labour Party not just the accused.

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Add to that is another MP criticising Skwarkbox for publishing a response for the ‘accused’ a response that shows yet again the anguish of the publicly suspended, the pursuit of the relentless media, the lack of support.

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Have a heart and have a sense of justice please.

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How the Compliance Unit has let us all down

In memory of Carl Sargeant

Maria Carroll:

No one who has not lived through the experiences of either the complainants or the one complained about can understand the level of trauma this has caused them or the way that they have reacted.
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What we do know from well researched evidence is the impact that public suspension, media pressure, isolation and not knowing what you have been accused of does to people’s mental well being.

There is much documented evidence that our party has been told repeatedly of the impact this treatment has had on individuals, irrespective of the nature of the allegations.

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We have seen thousands and thousands of labour members go through this same experience. Ignored, scorned, labeled and not knowing what they may have been accused of.
They sit for hours and hours going over every meeting they have had, every discussion they have had, every comment on social media trying to see what they have done, trying to find a place to focus their efforts to be able to defend themselves. Repeated cries for more details of date, time and place and specifics are ignored.
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It eats into you, you cannot find an area to concentrate your defence on.
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You believe yourself to be a decent person that cares about the world and society but a person/persons you believe in, see as a decent friend and fellow politician tells you that you have behaved in a way that you failed to recognise.
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Your identity fragments, your hope dissipates, you fear you are a monster, you no longer know yourself.
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These allegations have been made by people who are more than just your friends they are your political family, people who share your views of a decent society, yet they see you as someone that needs to be suspended and exiled from that family.
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A role that is not only a huge and major part of every aspect of your life but also a part of your identity who you are. Everything you think of yourself, everything the world believed you to be is taken away. You are forever identified as a pest, a danger to society and those you love..
The small number of people who still believe in you do everything they can to get you the evidence and facts you need so that you can focus and fight. A highly skilled barrister fights to try to get you the detail. He’s told we may be in a position to get some preliminary information by mid January.
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That’s a long time away, too long when you are going through every issue of your life to try to find facts and understand what this is about. You remember every mistake you ever made, every time you weren’t as kind as you should have been …..
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Your ability to focus on reality is gone. Hopeless and in despair you cannot see a future.
 So unless you have lived through this experience with someone you cannot possibly comment, you cannot passably understand. Unless you have been a complainant in such a matter you cannot understand or comment either.
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We are human, we expect certain events to happen in your life, people die, tragedy occurs. But when hit by the totally unexpected the shock is severe. No one expects to wake up one day for such an event to occur. It’s well documented the impact of unexpected events – look up PTSD or prolonged duress stress disorder. Neither did the complaints expect this matter to be handled this way. They were not to know what would happen.
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But what we do know is the process has failed all these people. It failed those who acted as they were instructed. More than anything the process failed a family and four children.
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Recovering from the loss of a loved one from suicide is so very, very hard. Most never recover. Most will be in the same vicious circle of ruminating over what they could have done, what they should have done for ever.
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None of this is new.

The Labour Party process is wrong.  It’s been proved repeatedly to be failing everyone. It is devoid of due process and natural justice.

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Confidentiality is not given the respect it needs. Constant leaks that damage people for political expediency and factionalism is seen as just a normal part of political lives. It’s not.
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Natural justice is not at the heart of the process of discipline in our party.  Probably not in other parties either, but that is not our responsibility, our party is.
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And we are all left the worst for all of that. We will all now be wondering if we listened enough, if we judged without fact, or we should have done more. And if we are not then IMO we all should be.
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For me and many of my colleagues who have been fighting to get our party’s disciplinary process to reflect natural justice for so very long, we are now questioning ourselves to say, should we, could we have done more?
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 You are forever identified as a pest, a danger to society and those you love. The small number of people who still believe in you do everything they can to get you the evidence and facts you need so that you can focus and fight. A highly skilled barrister fights to try to get you the detail. He’s told we may be in a position to get some preliminary information by mid January.
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That’s a long time away, too long when you are going through every issue of your life to try to find facts and understand what this is about. You remember every mistake you ever made, every time you weren’t as kind as you should have been …..
Your ability to focus on reality is gone. Hopeless and in despair you cannot see a future.
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So unless you have lived through this experience with someone you cannot possibly comment, you cannot passably understand. Unless you have been a complainant in such a matter you cannot understand or comment either. We are human, we expect certain events to happen in your life, people die, tragedy occurs. But when hit by the totally unexpected the shock is severe.
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No one expects to wake up one day for such an event to occur. It’s well documented the impact of unexpected events – look up PTSD or prolonged duress stress disorder.
Neither did the complaints expect this matter to be handled this way. They were not to know what would happen.
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But what we do know is the process has failed all these people. It failed those who acted as they were instructed. More than anything the process failed a family and four children. Recovering from the loss of a loved one from suicide is so very, very hard. Most never recover. Most will be in the same vicious circle of ruminating over what they could have done, what they should have done for ever.
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Tuesday Conference Discipline Motion

At Conference Tuesday morning there is a debate scheduled which is causing much concern across the party membership. It relates to the rules and discipline within the party and is a further tweaking of Chapter 2  Clause 1, Section 8 Conditions of membership Page 11 8.

The concern expressed by members who are discussing this on social media and amongst themselves is not so much the intention of the rule or the intention of the NEC in tweaking it.  The problem is just how open to interpretation the rule in question is. There are so many generalisation, so much wooliness, and each and every aspect is by definition subjective. We all know and support the principle of not accepting abuse, and we all support a robust approach to ensuring that our party is a place of safety where members can explore and discuss their thoughts on policy, on society, with all the members in the broad church that makes up the membership.

Most of us can easily define abuse in the general sense, but when you chunk down to detail it is clear that what one person subjectively feels is an insult is by someone else “water off a ducks back” and part of normal day to day exchanges, especially when deep  feelings, sometimes personal experiences, are triggered and emotions brim over. Most of us know where the line is drawn.

The problem comes about when you try to put that knowing into words.   Here is the rule book section that will be discussed on Tuesday which includes the change that the NEC wants passed – and you can see just how subjective interpreting the rule(s) is, and how difficult it is to make judgements without being there.  Occasionally the person suspected of breaking the rules of behaviour has done or said something that is blatantly obvious in its abuse and intention. That isn`t the problem.  It is when the intention, the context, the history surrounding any accusation and accusor that it becomes very very difficult.   Scroll past once you have scanned it and got an idea and you can read this blogs suggestion and hope, along with some further insight into the issues.

NEC:  Chapter 2 Clause 1, Section 8 Conditions of membership Page 11 8. No member of the Party shall engage in conduct which in the opinion of the NEC is prejudicial, or in any act which in the opinion of the NEC is grossly detrimental to the Party. Any dispute as to whether a member is in breach of the provisions of this sub-clause shall be determined by the NCC in accordance with Chapter 1 Clause IX above and the disciplinary rules and guidelines in Chapter 6 below. Where appropriate the NCC shall have regard to involvement in financial support for the organisation and/ or the activities of any organisation declared ineligible for affiliation to the Party under Chapter 1.II.5 or 3.C above; or to the candidature of the members in opposition to an officially endorsed Labour Party candidate or the support for such candidature. The NCC shall not have regard to the mere holding or expression of beliefs and opinions. Delete all and replace with: 8. No member of the Party shall engage in conduct which in the opinion of the NEC is prejudicial, or in any act which in the opinion of the NEC is grossly detrimental to the Party. The NEC shall take account of any codes of conduct currently in force and shall regard any incident which in their view might reasonably be seen to demonstrate hostility or prejudice based on age; disability; gender reassignment or identity; marriage and civil partnership; pregnancy and maternity; race; religion or belief; sex; or sexual orientation as conduct prejudicial to the Party: these shall include but not be limited to incidents involving racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia or otherwise racist language, sentiments, stereotypes or actions, sexual harassment, bullying or any form of intimidation towards another person on the basis of a protected characteristic as determined by the NEC, wherever it occurs, as conduct prejudicial to the Party. Any dispute as to whether a member is in breach of the provisions of this sub-clause shall be determined by the NCC in accordance with Chapter 1 Clause IX above and the disciplinary rules and guidelines in Chapter 6 below. Where appropriate the NCC shall have regard to involvement in financial support for the organisation and/or the activities of any organisation declared ineligible for affiliation to the Party under Chapter 1.II.5 or 3.C above; or to the candidature of the members in opposition to an officially endorsed Labour Party candidate or the support for such candidature. The NCC shall not have regard to the mere holding or expression of beliefs and opinions except in any instance inconsistent with the Party’s aims and values, agreed codes of conduct, or involving prejudice towards any protected characteristic.

Solution – constructive way forward

This is actually a wonderful opportunity in the making. Clearly there are issues and concerns that need to be ironed out, but it is crazy to attempt to do this with more and more layers made up of a combination of more detail couched in more generalisations which is what is happening with this motion.

We must be seen as a party to defer always to due process and natural justice. Look around the rest of this blog and you will read heartbreaking examples of just how badly the compliance unit operates. I personally have been in tears when chatting with individuals who have been at the blunt end of the current process, and not just acutely but running into many months, some currently running at 18 months without a hearing or a right of reply/response.

What we really need is a complete review and overhaul and for that to come about following a robust and detailed examination and discussion. And this is exactly the opportunity that this gifts to delegates on Tuesday – they can simply refer it to the NEC Review headed by Katie Murphy and Barry Gardiner.

This is an important aspect of the Party, we must not cut corners.  Let`s give space and air to do a comprehensive review, that fully considers how to ensure party discipline without bringing into question our commitment to natural justice and fair play – two things that are at the very core of what labour is about as an organisation, as a party and  every member. It is the essence that reflects back and forth from individual members to the collective and generates the very trust and energy that achieves the full potential of the party.

I have contact with individuals who have a deep knowledge of the rule book and disciplinary processes and natural justice – members who are legally qualified and or very experienced in disciplinary processes in other organisations (and are representatives of Unions for employees). If any delegate wishes to be put in contact with them for more detailed discussion just message me.

  Delegates please please please I implore you – refer this motion to the NEC Review.

DS: It is poor and badly drafted in my view. Don’t like reasonable in it as it is extraneous and the harassment of protected class point is useless as this already covered by Equality Act 2010. Also too long. Would be better as clause then sub-clauses making one point each. As stands open to interpretation problems due to lack of clarity.

It moves the NEC discretion from a Q of particular conduct being prejudicial/grossly detrimental to the party to in the instances specified being a Q of “can the incident be reasonably seen as demonstrating prejudice?” if yes then it is automatically prejudicial to the party. That is a very different assessment. The “incident” doesn’t have to be actually prejudicial just that it can be reasonably seen as demonstrating prejudice.

The reasonable is attached to the seen so just acts I think to dilute that verb. It means there is no requirement for an incident to actually demonstrate prejudice just that it could reasonably be seen to do so. Seen by who? The recipient? bystanders? the person on the Clapham omnibus? Is this objective or subjective?

I also think the structure reduces the NCC discretion as well. Essentially you could be found guilty of prejudice against the party on the basis that an incident could be reasonably seen to demonstrate prejudice but you were not actually provably prejudiced. I am uncertain it passes muster on the basis of natural justice as you don’t get to actually refute the issue of causing the party prejudice only to try to show it is unreasonable to see the incident as demonstrating prejudice against a protected class. That is a more difficult accusation to refute.

Essentially you could be found guilty of prejudice against the party on the basis that an incident could be reasonably seen to demonstrate prejudice but you were not actually provably prejudiced. I am uncertain it passes muster on the basis of natural justice as you don’t get to actually refute the issue of causing the party prejudice only to try to show it is unreasonable to see the incident as demonstrating prejudice against a protected class. That is a more difficult accusation to refute.

MC: There is growing move to refer the AS motion to the Corbyn Review as is going to happen with other motions There are huge problems with labour`s disciplinary processes and rules as has been seen through various purges. The entire discipline process is not fit for purpose and is subject to serious abuse as we have seen.

It is pointless to agree a change without addressing all the issues.  For example, the process gives no recognition to the impact of disability (particularly MH issues) on conduct. No assessment as to whether there is a health issue that needs to be addressed.

The NCC is bypassed. Members have no right of representation unless a case goes to a full hearing at NCC and then it is legal representation that is allowed. Who can afford that. Of over 3,000 complaints to labour over the leadership election and resulting suspensions only 140 remain suspended and of those only s dozen or so have been referred to NCC. If the party was an

If the party was an employer they would be constantly at employment tribunal. This is the best opportunity yet to get those issues addressed by referring the matter of this rule change and the whole issue of discipline to the review If this or any motion on discipline is voted on then the chances of getting the disciplinary processes reviewed are reduced because it will be said Conference has only just voted on this – whichever way it goes Please think seriously about referring this to the review I and others who have considerable experience with labours discipline process are strongly in favour of referring the whole issue to the review As it stands the NEC motion is not good enough not clear enough for labour members.

Solution – constructive way forward
This is actually a wonderful opportunity in the making. Clearly there are issues and concerns that need to be ironed out, but it is crazy to attempt to do this with more and more layers made up of a combination of more detail couched in more generalisations which is what is happening with this motion.
We must be seen as a party to defer always to due process and natural justice. Look around the rest of this blog and you will read heartbreaking examples of just how badly the compliance unit operates. I personally have been in tears when chatting with individuals who have been at the blunt end of the current process, and not just acutely but running into many months, some currently running at 18 months without a hearing or a right of reply/response.
What we really need is a complete review and overhaul and for that to come about following a robust and detailed examination and discussion. And this is exactly the opportunity that this gifts to delegates on Tuesday – they can simply refer it to the NEC Review headed by Katie Murphy and Barry Gardiner.
This is an important aspect of the Party, we must not cut corners.  Let`s give space and air to do a comprehensive review, that fully considers how to ensure party discipline without bringing into question our commitment to natural justice and fair play – two things that are at the very core of what labour is about as an organisation, as a party and  every member. It is the essence that reflects back and forth from individual members to the collective and generates the very trust and energy that achieves the full potential of the party.

I have contact with individuals who have a deep knowledge of the rule book and disciplinary processes and natural justice – members who are legally qualified and or very experienced in disciplinary processes in other organisations (and are representatives in Unions for employees). If any delegate wishes to be put in contact with them for more detailed discussion just message me.

 

Delegates please please please I implore you, refer this motion to the:

PARTY DEMOCRACY REVIEW

At the NEC meeting on Friday 22nd September the NEC agreed to a review of Party Democracy as proposed by the Leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn.

The review will be led by Katy Clark, a former Labour MP and presently Political Secretary to the Leader. She will be assisted by Andy Kerr and Claudia Webbe from the National Executive Committee and will report to the Leader and to Party Chair Ian Lavery MP. Jeremy Corbyn set out the terms of reference for the review which will include the following areas:

 Developing democratic policy-making procedures, including strengthening the role of Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) and of Party Conference, the role of contemporary motions and the development of local and regional plans.

  Addendum-NEC-Report-2017 (1)    

Typical timeline for disciplinary enquiry: Typical timeline for disciplinary investigation

We need to be disciplined about our approach to the rules and the processes used to uphold them. The process and the rules are inaccessible and cumbersome. In the labour party we champion natural justice throughout society. We have to be seen to do that within the party itself. The disciplinary rules and process require a complete overhaul to ensure natural justice informs every step. Despite the

Despite the detail in the rule book there is no reference to respecting due process and natural justice. Our disciplinary process must be rooted in and embrace natural justice. This requires clear rules and clear process – currently we have neither. This is our opportunity to MAKE IT SO by referring the system for review.

 

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Equal Treatment – Why isn`t Blair Expelled?

Ben Sellers:

I think the Labour Party now has a choice:

either discipline Blair for his comments encouraging Labour voters to consider backing Conservative or Liberal Democrat candidates, or drop actions against left wing members who may have said similar things in the past, including sharing statuses on social media.

I favour the latter, because I think most political disagreements should be settled politically, not bureaucratically.

I think Blair is wrong in almost everything he says these days, but I would rather he himself realised that he no longer has a place in a democratic socialist party, than being booted out. But what you absolutely can’t have, in a *democratic* socialist party, is one rule for a former leader, and another for ordinary members.

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Tony Blair: vote Tory or Lib Dem where they are open-minded on Brexit

Former Labour PM says party allegiances should be set aside

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Tony Blair has advised voters to consider backing Conservative or Liberal Democrat candidates in June’s general election, if they promise to have an open mind on the terms of the final Brexit deal.

The former Labour prime minister said the public should set party allegiance aside in a effort to prevent the 8 June poll becoming what he called a “steamroller election”, and maximise the number of MPs willing to vote against hard Brexit when Theresa May brings the deal back to the House of Commons.

He added that he would support the efforts of Best for Britain, the tactical voting initiative created by Gina Miller, who won the supreme court case that forced the government to hold a parliamentary vote before triggering article 50.

Guardian article


I personally consider that what Tony Blair has done here is far worse than what has resulted in many members being expelled – for example re-tweeting a Green Party tweet.  This position by Blair is firstly to do specifically with the general election, and meant to affect the result, and secondly is crazily not merely agreeing with another party`s stance on an issue but actually arguing for people to VOTE other than labour.

Individual NEC members must act and demand answers!

Despite reassurances that things have changed and acknowledgments from the party that huge mistakes were made in administering the disciplinary process and the interpretation of the rules, the disregard of natural justice and due process continues.

have been at the receiving end of the appalling administration used by the party concerning discipline.

Members have been personally affect ted by the dismissive and callous attitude and it is ongoing. This has given me a worrying insight into the dismissive and incompetent structure of the disciplinary system used. I understand that through Ann Black there are signs that improvement on the process are being discussed to ensure that such a debacle cannot happen again.

I personally, along with others, consider that such a promise is without much strength when:

a) there are no actual rule changes suggested that would make it impossible for it to happen again

b) that even though it is acknowledged that it was wrong and shouldn`t happen again the lack of communication, the lack of consideration and the lack of due process and natural justice CONTINUES NOW.

People who have had their suspension lifted are still being bullied by the party.

Even though suspensions have been lifted the saga continues.

It is clear from the rule book that warning letters are an OPTION to be used when an admin suspension is not necessary.  An admin suspension is made in order to prevent the member participating in the party for fear of bringing it into disrepute. Once there is an admin suspension then an investigation is expected. Once there is an investigation then each person should be exonerated or found guilty and disciplined.

Instead the party is itself being brought into disrepute by the very people tasked with administrating the disciplinary system. Following investigation after an admin suspension either a person should be found guilty or not. If found guilty then natural justice demands they would have the right of appeal. However even though I not found guilty a warning letter is sent and without any explanation or evidence of what should not be done in future  – just a generic fudging template letter – AND CRUCIALLY no right of appeal!

Any attempts to get natural justice and replies to queries asking on what basis the warning letter is issued, and a demand that unless the accusation is substantiated that the warning letter is removed from the file is ignored.

It is incumbent upon every single NEC member to ensure fairness in all dealings between the party and any one else either within or without the party.  Each NEC member needs to demand that these warning letters are withdrawn, or each person is given the right to appeal and natural justice is respected.

Here are just 2 examples (of dozens) of the complete disregard shown by the party for members:

Carl John Freeman:  My story is pretty well known. I could not remain in the party with an unfair warning on file. They refused to lift it so I resigned. But if they were to write to me and reassure me that they would lift it – I will rejoin.

Nigel Chapman:  I had the warning kept on file letter. I sent a reply refusing the decision and demanding they produce the evidence against me so I could test it. This was back in September last year and as yet I’ve not received any response and my suspension remains lifted. Makes me think that they are hoping I’ll forget and let it go. When Iain McNicol apologises I’ll let it go.

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And then we have this – a situation where they provide no evidence and yet the crime lol was of such magnitude that it deserved an auto admin suspension wow:

Kevin Safford “Following investigation after my admin suspension I was not found guilty.” – Hmm, I don’t believe they actually held an investigation in my case. The letter that lifted my suspension certainly did not mention any investigation; the actual crime I was meant to have committed was never made clear; and I was never asked to give my side of the story. One minute I’m suspended, the next I’m not, but I have a written warning. I think McNicol and his cohorts have been reading Kafka, and got the wrong end of the stick.

Treacherous Actions of MPs against Corbyn resulting in members being suspended for ABUSE

Never mind the way so many MPs behaved toward members and to Corbyn by treacherous behaviour.  They didn`t simply deal with their dislike of the new members and disagreements with Corbyn by debate and in-house discussion. NO THEY WENT SCREAMING TO THE MEDIA!  They still are do that.

Members who were, are still are, incensed by their schoolchild playground behaviour (sickening example to children – and the general electorate – on how to deal with disagreements within an organisation). They were called on it, and rightly so. They DID behave in a treacherous manner and if a friend or family member of mine behaved in such a manner then they would no longer have contact with me. BUT the MPs behaviour continues to be uncensored but members are suspended and labelled abusive if they express their anger about it. One example is a member `allegedly` saying that they should say `sold souls to the devil` – this member was suspended for abuse!  Yet again an example that has me welling up with both anger and laughter at the same time.

Pat Stone:

This came in an email on Tuesday – I missed it until just now. I’d like to respond with a quote from Stephen Fry. I still have not been told which rule I am alleged to have broken.
I am not best pleased with the slick transition from ‘uncomradely’ to ‘Abuse’ in the next paragraph.

What has also happened is that I was told by phone in Feb that my suspension was lifted. I phoned them because my branch secretary told me the suspension was not marked against my name. In early March I stood for an outstanding branch responsibility that was waiting to be filled by a woman under the 50% rule. I was elected unopposed. Next day I was told that the CLP secretary still considered me suspended and the election was void. There is a CLP meeting tonight to elect delegates to conference. I will not be able to attend as I am not elected. So my ward will be one representative short, one woman short.

I’d like to know what sort of warning has been issued to John McTernan for calling for JC’s head on a plate, on Twitter

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It is the NEC that needs a Warning Letter for their uncomradely, nay abusive, behaviour toward the membership.

This is the (non existent) `process` that Pat was put through, and is uncomradely behaviour, and it continues.

Typical Timeline of Suspension – THIS is abuse

Pat Stone:

All this makes me cry. It makes me angry. It makes me shake. It makes me feel like some sort of powerless victim who has been tied down with tape over my mouth, to await some vile abuse by some nasty revolting sadist. There are thousands of members being treated like this …

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Typical Timeline of Suspension – THIS is abuse

   Pat Stone:

All this makes me cry. It makes me angry. It makes me shake. It makes me feel like some sort of powerless victim who has been tied down with tape over my mouth, to await some vile abuse by some nasty revolting sadist. There are thousands of members being treated like this …

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Pat Stone (retired teacher) Timeline of my Suspension:

Summer 2015 joined the party and encouraged Roy to join. Never been political before, really, too busy with kids and work. Tried the £3 online thing but it didn’t work so both of us paid the full whack. We had no idea of any jiggery pokery re: Corbyn. We thought everyone wanted him, as we do, because we think this country needs Socialism, at least for a couple of terms.

Sept 2015 Corbyn was elected leader. Hooray! For once I backed a winner. On TV, somebody stormed out of the announcement meeting, shouting. I was confused. Who was that? Shocked that MPs including many women announce they will not serve, before they’ve even been asked.

March? April? May? June? 2016 Gobsmacked that MPs are resigning one by one and that there is another leadership election mooted. Saw comments on social media and joined in some irony and sarcasm about the challenge to Corbyn’s leadership by Angela Eagle.

July 2016 Checked rechecked and double checked by phone that my membership was up to date and paid up to date. I am told yes, my membership is up to date.

August 2016 We are on holiday when ballots for leadership election are sent out. We check online every day. Roy’s ballot is sent out on day 1. Mine is not.

August, September 2016 I call repeatedly and ask repeatedly about my ballot. I am told repeatedly that yes yes my membership is up to date and my ballot will be sent out soon in ‘a batch’. I am confused about why I am not in the same batch as Roy, at the same address. I am given several dates by which my ballot will be sent out.

September 12 2016 I am sent an email and then a letter to tell me that there has been an “…allegation that I may have been involved in a breach of a party rule” and my membership is suspended. I was told an investigation by my Regional Director would be carried out and I was exhorted to cooperate. This email and letter are addressed to ‘Supporter Applications… regarding your application to the Labour Party.’ At this time I had been a paid up member for more than a year, I was not applying to be a supporter, so I thought a mistake had been made. I waited. I WAS NOT TOLD AND HAVE NOT YET BEEN TOLD AS OF 6.3.17 WHICH PARTY RULE I AM ALLEGED TO HAVE BROKEN, NOR WHO MADE THE ALLEGATION(S)

September – December 2016 I called and emailed over and over again to try and find out what was going on. There was never anything proffered to me except the email and letter of 12 September. I was given the email address of ‘legal’ and sent them a message.

They told me they had asked ‘compliance’? to send me evidence of what I am supposed to have done within 5 days. I did get this ‘evidence’ 5 days later. It consists of screenshots of the ironic, sarcastic tweets about Angela Eagle’s treacherous behaviour and one in which I expressed my frustration that H Harman was emailing us, asking us to vote for Owen Smith, hoping she would not be selected as our constituency candidate next time.

I now know that ‘traitor’ and ‘deselect’ were trigger words for finding people to suspend or expel. I won’t go on here about the names new members were being called by Tom Watson, nor the piss-taking Tweets sent out almost daily by people such as John McTernan.
December 2016 I got an email from Ali Craft to tell me I should come to an investigatory interview in the week of Jan 9 2017. I reply asking for detail.

I express my shock and concern that things are being done to me that I have not been informed about – that I have had no information about timelines or procedures or my rights. He sends back some guideline info which refers to a person who is being dealt with as ‘Donald Duck’. Much of the other language and vocabulary is the language of police stations and courts of law. It is frightening and shocking. I hear of other members who are ill, depressed, suicidal in the face of this language and these treatments.

January 10, 2017 I attended the interview with Ali Craft. I asked why I was not interviewed by my regional director as originally stated. No response.

Throughout this whole affair I am expected to just comply with whatever the party sees fit to impose on me with no explanation or forwarding as if I am the party’s property. I state my ‘case’. He states nothing except that he will write a report and send it to…? I have still not been told which party rule I am alleged to maybe have broken, nor who has made the allegations. Ali Craft promises me that I will be sent verbatim notes of the meeting, “In a couple of days.”

March 2017 I have had no verbatim notes although I have requested them twice more. I have heard from Ali Craft, because I asked and he got back to me 2 weeks later (a 2 week or perpetual delay seems to be the Labour party norm, I have heard and experienced) that he has sent his report to panel – what is that? I can’t remember which section of the party – and that they will meet in March – he could not give a date – and decide whether to proceed further. I asked twice for a copy of his report about me but these requests were ignored completely.

February 2017 Early Feb? I went to my ward meeting and was informed that my suspension was no longer recorded against my name on the members list. I called Labour and was told that, yes, my suspension was lifted and a letter was being prepared to be sent out that day.

Early March 2017 I have waited every day and run to the door like a child when the post comes, to look for the letter to tell me my suspension is lifted. It hasn’t come. I have waited a month. I go to my ward meeting and stand, unopposed, for a position as second auditor.

A few days later my branch secretary has the unenviable job of calling me to tell me the PLP secretary says I am still suspended.

I have heard nothing from HQ. I will have to spend money and time again, calling them to find out.

I have still never been informed which rule I am supposed to have broken, nor who accused me. If I get a bit too mouthy in future, someone, anyone, can just allege against me and get me suspended again. And on into eternity. Meanwhile, famous names are publicly abusing members and Jeremy Corbyn on a daily basis, with impunity.

All this makes me cry. It makes me angry. It makes me shake. It makes me feel like some sort of powerless victim who has been tied down with tape over my mouth, to await some vile abuse by some nasty revolting sadist.

There are thousands of members being treated like this just because we want Socialism brought back into our party and our country. Thousands. Is this what the Labour Party is supposed to be for?

Pat Stone

Callous disregard of Iain McNicol and the NEC toward members

Chris Billings:

With disappointment, but not surprise, I sent the following by post and email to Mr McNicol this morning:

Mr Iain McNicol, General Secretary,

Sir,

I am writing to ask you why I have received no substantive reply to my letter to you dated 14th November last year. The letter was sent by post and email simultaneously. You acknowledged receipt by email the following day, stating “The letter and email have been received and will be responded to in due course”.

More than three months have now elapsed since that communication. Given the very serious nature of the allegations that you made against me, this is stretching the limits of “in due course” beyond what is reasonable, and into the realms of unprofessional discourtesy.

Following a submission of an SAR request soon after my suspension, the Party was obliged to provide me with all the data it held concerning me. When it arrived, I noted that it did not contain any evidence to support any of the allegations that you had made. My letter of 14th November gave you another opportunity to comply with the request. The fact that you have still not provided any evidence relating to any alleged offence, or any details of the investigation that you stated would follow my suspension, leads me to believe that no such evidence exists, and that there was no investigation.

In view of the above, I am inclined to suspect that you made serious allegations against me without checking their validity, and despite your clear and unequivocal statement regarding an investigation, you have made no subsequent attempt to determine the facts. What motivated you to make allegations which impugned my character, and to ignore your own stated intent to investigate them?

Without any contrary explanation having been offered by you, I have no option but to conclude that the allegations were made either erroneously or maliciously. If it is the former, why are you showing such reticence in communicating with me? If you or others have acted in error, I would welcome an explanation, and retraction of the formal warning, and be pleased to consider the matter closed.
In addition, I would appreciate an apology.

Unfortunately, my experience, and those of others I know in very similar (sometimes eerily identical) circumstances, lead me to conclude that my suspension was not the result of an honest mistake. Although I would be delighted to learn of an alternative explanation, your words and deeds in relation to my suspension and reinstatement, and your silence since, makes it impossible for me to conclude that the actions of the Party in suspending me were anything other than a malicious and undemocratic move to prevent me voting in the recent leadership election.

What’s done is done. I am anxious to move on, and do all I can to help ensure that Labour form the next government. I am sure that we share that goal. However, despite what you and/or others in the Party might hope, I refuse to rest while the sanction of a formal warning remains hanging over me – particularly when no one in the Party has provided, or made any attempt to provide, any reason why that sanction might be justified.

Again, I must insist that you retract the formal warning against me without any further delay.

It might be desirable for some in the Party to hope that I will either give up and meekly submit to an injustice, or resign my membership of the Party. I hope that you are not relying on me taking either course of action. I will do neither. I am not going to go away. With that in mind, please do not ignore me, or inform me again that I will receive a reasonable response to a reasonable request “in due course”.

I believe that I deserve an answer to my questions. I am certain that I deserve to be treated with basic courtesy – which has been conspicuously absent in my dealings with the Party in recent months.

Good day Sir,

Mr C Billing

The disciplinary process and the rule book has always been perfectly well administered in the past. That was before the Election Procedures Committee thought, in their arrogance, that they could adapt the disciplinary procedure and the rule book to suit themselves.

As a result all and any semblance of fairness, justice, due process and natural justice was thrown out the window.  The resulting `purge` of thousands and thousands of members on spurious grounds is sickening. It disgusts me on all levels: for the individuals subjected to the abuse by the procedures committee, the lack of responsibility of the NEC (who allowed this in the first place by handing over the reins of the disputes panel to the procedures committee) who, in my opinion, demonstrated a dereliction of duty, and continue to do so, by not highlighting how the disciplinary process put in place by the procedures committee breaks all the rules of the rule book and simply has, and continues to have no regard for common decency.

Arrogant Procedures Committee V. Disputes Panel

 

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Arrogant Procedures Committee V. Disputes Panel

The disciplinary process and the rule book has always been perfectly well administered in the past. That was before the Election Procedures Committee thought, in their arrogance, that they could adapt the disciplinary procedure and the rule book to suit themselves.

As a result all and any semblance of fairness, justice, due process and natural justice was thrown out the window.  The resulting `purge` of thousands and thousands of members on spurious grounds is sickening. It disgusts me on all levels: for the individuals subjected to the abuse by the procedures committee, the lack of responsibility of the NEC (who allowed this in the first place by handing over the reins of the disputes panel to the procedures committee) who, in my opinion, demonstrated a dereliction of duty, and continue to do so, by not highlighting how the disciplinary process put in place by the procedures committee breaks all the rules of the rule book and simply has, and continues to have no regard for common decency.

Up until this fiasco the disputes panel looked at any possible disciplinary infringements and spoke with the member, decided whether there was any evidence to support the need for an investigation, and then arranged for an investigation to clarify the issues. Only if there was a real threat of abuse, and or a real threat to the reputation of the Party, did the disputes panel suspend a member during the investigation stage.

The Procedures Committee, however, thought in their arrogance they will just suspend all and everybody that anyone reported or that the bot they used threw up as ABUSE  such as blairite or rat.  The pathetic check that the bot was not being unreasonable resulted in the panels confirming the suspension because it was a real abusive threat to an individual or the Party`s reputation.

WOW. The result was, and the abuse by the Party to individuals continues on unchecked, is that members were suspended and their votes taken away from them, and their right to attend conference taken away from them, when, if it had followed the established manner of the disciplinary process simply would not have happened.

Suspending members in this way is unprecedented and is not what the Disputes Panel would have done, and neither therefore, would the Disputes Panel have deprived people of their votes and lost them hundreds of pounds in hotel and booking fees for conference.

THEN having dug this hole the procedures committee went on to lift the suspensions and merely issue a warning letter.NO. this is not the process that should be used.  The disputes panel instigate an investigation, and only if there is any evidence that they consider warrants a punishment do they act – and what they do is PASS IT TO THE NCC to make a decision on.

SHAME on the procedures committee for behaving in such an abusive manner. The procedures members: 

PROCEDURE COMMITTEE: There shall be a Procedures Committee to oversee the election process. The Procedures Committee will comprise of: • General Secretary (Returning Officer) • NEC Officers (Ann Black, Keith Birch, Diana Holland, Jim Kennedy, Paddy Lillis, Ellie Reeves, Mary Turner, Tom Watson) • Margaret Beckett MP • Glenis Willmott MEP

Now the sickening fallout is manifesting, still they care more about covering their butts than addressing the abuse they have visited on members treated in this manner.  The NEC are now looking to fudge it, sweep it all under the carpet by saying it wont happen again`.  BUT the point is it did happen, and unless the rules on the rights of the NEC to hand over the duties of the NCC to some any committee of their choosing is stopped then it will happen again. If not on the disciplinary process (and there is nothing to stop it happening it seems) then it will be on something else. First they came for …

This is the correct process, and the one that the disputes panel follows, but that the NEC allowed the procedures committee to throw out the window:

1. The alleged instances of that are investigated. All and any alleged evidence is compiled and sent to the member asap.

2. At the investigative stage of the process, it is not our practice to disclose the identities of anyone who has brought complaints to our attention. If the NEC Disputes Panel finds that further action is to be taken, the case would be referred to the National Constitutional Committee (NCC), a quasi-judiciary body. At this point, all such information is made available to respondents.

3. Informal interviews take part during the investigative stage of the disciplinary process. These are an opportunity for the member in question to respond to and rebut allegations that they have contravened Labour Party rules (example: 2.I.8 of the Party Rule Book: “No member of the Party shall engage in conduct which in the opinion of the NEC is prejudicial, or in any act which in the opinion of the NEC is grossly detrimental to the Party”).

The format for the interview is laid out for Party Staff by the NEC.

The “outcome”, as it were, of the interview, is that the investigating officer presents a report on the content and findings of the interview to the NEC Disputes Panel, along with a summary of the evidence brought against that member.

The Disputes Panel then comes to a decision on whether action is to be taken. If no action is to be taken, the member is informed and there is no change to their membership status whatsoever. If, however, the Disputes Panel decides that further action is to be taken, they refer the case to the NCC, who conduct a full hearing with all relevant parties and reach a decision, with a range of sanctions available to them.

If no action is to be taken, the member is informed and there is no change to their membership status whatsoever. If, however, the Disputes Panel decides that further action is to be taken, they refer the case to the NCC, who conduct a full hearing with all relevant parties and reach a decision, with a range of sanctions available to them.

If, however, the Disputes Panel decides that further action is to be taken, they refer the case to the NCC, who conduct a full hearing with all relevant parties and reach a decision, with a range of sanctions available to them.

BUT IN 2016 THE NEC HANDED OVER THE WHOLE PROCESS TO THE PROCEDURES COMMITTEE WHO SIMPLY THREW THIS OUT OF THE WINDOW.

The Procedures Committee not only showed no respect for the rule book, they showed no respect for the established process (and how the disputes panel interpreted the rule book re discipline as per conference), but surprise surprise, showed no respect for the tried and tested manner that unions hold employers too:

Employee suspensions Unison

`Your employer should give you a clear reason for the suspension and explain what other options have been explored instead of suspension. If you are suspended because of allegations against you, you are entitled to know what the allegations are.

Length of suspension: Your employer needs to do what they can to resolve the issue swiftly and keep the suspension to a minimum. Your employer should keep the suspension decision under review.`  

The Procedures committee immediately suspended members, took away their vote, did not consider other avenues, did not check context. Timely manner? Hahahaha  MONTHS AND MONTHS AND MONTHS and many still suspended.  Under review – nope FAIL months and months of members trying to gain the alleged evidenced, palmed off, ignored on and on and on.

It is the Procedures committee that needs investigating, and its powers curtailed so that such an appalling abuse of thousands of members by the Party cannot happen again.

aone

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