The NEC’s ‘Disputes Panel’ met on Tuesday to address around twenty cases. Every NEC member is entitled to attend.

An NEC member who was at the meeting told the SKWAWKBOX:

`… Disputes meetings are only supposed to last an hour, but usually go on double that – but even then, the time is too short. Twenty cases is about the usual number – and that’s too many, even for two hours.

The information we receive from the investigators can be sketchy and is often just a summary of their findings. Some members basically just want the recommendations of the investigating unit to be rubber-stamped – and treat any queries as an attack on the integrity of the investigators… `

It is extraordinary that NEC members do not see the irony re their own integrity when they: `treat any queries as an attack on the integrity of the investigators`.

The integrity (or otherwise) of an investigator should stand or fall on the quality of the investigation – not simply assumed by the NEC members who turn up at a Disputes Panel. Why do I even need to point that out?!

So they are saying that they do not ever question the rationale, the way so called evidence was disseminated, what spin is put on it – wow. It is horrifying that it is not a matter of course that the investigation report is not scrutinised. What then is the purpose of this disputes committee if they are just going to do what the investigator says. This beggars belief.

ANY NEC member who considers they are unable to do so should show at least half an ounce of integrity and say they will not sit on the disputes panel.

I hold them responsible for this stain on the labour party and the pain and anguish that they are continuing to allow to happen. I have see the style of investigations and they are not carried out from a neutral perspective – the whole vibe is that they ask questions to trap members and the underlying assumption is one of guilt.

I repeat no NEC member shouldn`t take a place at a Disputes Panel unless they are committed to natural justice and that requires you to look objectively at the investigation. In fact, I now consider that the investigator must be stopped from giving any recommendation. They should simply supply the report, and the job of the disputes Panel should be to scrutinize it and do so from a neutral position that is motivated by fairness and natural justice.

It is appalling that the promised overhaul of the complaints procedure has not even been started. So where then is the integrity of the NEC members on that huh?

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Eighteen months ago it was publicly stated that the Disputes Committee had agreed the need for a new disciplinary procedure. The elements that process would contain would include the right to representation, the presentation of all evidence used to suspend and other areas that are basic rights of justice. Rights that our unions have fought for in workplaces. Rights enshrined in the ACAS codes which if breached can lead to a judgement of unfair dismissal at Employment Tribunal…

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We are still waiting.

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The disputes committee is vitally important in the process of an accused member’s journey through the system. An investigation is conducted by staff of the party. At that investigation the member is denied representation and must self represent. They do not have the right to be accompanied – again a basic tenet of the union movement – instead, they can have with them a ‘silent’ witness who cannot speak.

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The investigation report is not seen by the member before it goes to the Disputes Committee and it contains the recommendation of the officer as to whether the case should be referred to the NCC with a view to expulsion.

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At NCC hearing the member is yet again unable to be represented unless they are fortunate enough to be able to afford legal representation.
At hearing any procedural issues are not taken into account.

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So yes members are hurt and angry. They feel let down by a process that does not afford them fairness. Anyone who argues the process is acceptable needs to reflect that if that is so then they undermine everything our unions fought for and achieved to protect staff from unscrupulous employers.

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IMO our unions and our NEC representatives need as a matter of urgency put together a modern procedure that reflects standards we expect of employers.

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There is a vast array of talent and expertise in our Membership. There’s a vast amount of expertise regarding discipline in our unions. Rather than say we have to work with what we’ve got, rather than say we need a new procedure then appear to do nothing to push it forward – Make it Happen.

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Let’s see the expertise of our membership recognised and utilised. Why not have Panels of investigators within the party who can act to independently assess the facts?
There is so much that could be done and should be done.

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Labour proved it is possible to implement a complete restructure of our process for complaints of sexual harassment, it did so in days. Why not do this for complaints?
We don’t need a miracle, we need a new process and the end of the shenanigans we have seen.


 

An example of the injustice, and complete disregard for natural justice, that the  Labour Party process results in:

                                                               Syed Eyamen Siddiqi

NEWS ON MY LABOUR PARTY SUSPENSION AND NEC DISPUTES PANEL MEETING ON 6TH FEB 2018

Labour Party NEC had a disputes panel meeting on Tuesday 6th March to discuss my suspension and possible action against me. The NEC members were given a report by the investigating officer (Dan Hogan), a report which I am yet to see and a report which was “suppose” to be based on the findings of the interview he conducted with me on 22nd Feb.

The interview lasted for a duration of 5 hours, I was questioned on 15 separate allegations, every single allegation bar two were of complaints raised against me about incidents/ accusations AFTER I was selected as a Council candidate and also AFTER I raised a complaint with London Labour about me being subjected to an Islamophobic attack by another party member. I provided them will a voice recording of my attacker threatening me, calling me “Islamic fundamentalist”, “Islamic bullshit” amongst many things. Despite all the evidence and witness statements I provided to the investigating officer (Dan Hogan), he has come to the conclusion that I threatened and abused the individual who I complained about!!!

Whilst at the interview I was accompanied by Sir Geoffrey Bindman QC, an individual who has received a KNIGHTHOOD, been a solicitor/ QC in London for nearly 60 years, has been a Labour party member for even longer, he represented the party as a Councillor and served as Chair of the Society of Labour Lawyers. He referred to the interview as a “denial of justice” and said “The meeting was conducted in a hostile and wholly inappropriate manner by Mr. Hogan, more reminiscent of a KGB interrogation than an impartial search for the truth.”

Nevertheless, Labours NEC voted by the majority to refer my case to the NCC and therefore have indirectly insinuated that I am the attacker rather than the victim of a hate crime as well as assisting in the right wing plot to keep me off as a Councillor candidate and protect there friend, my attacker. This means I can no longer stand as a Council candidate in the upcoming Local elections in Redbridge and have lost my elected position as CLP Secretary of Ilford South (2016, 2017).

I would like to place on record the individuals on the NEC who helped raise my matter and spoke up for justice, equality as well as speaking up against racism. They are Christine Shawcroft, Darren Williams, Yasmine Dar, Jon Lansman, Andi Fox, Rachel Garnham, Claudia Webbe and Pete Willsman. I wholeheartedly thank as well as commend you all for your courage, integrity and commitment to the grassroot/ working class members.

I was in total shock to hear the Trade Union reps on the NEC other then Andi Fox (TSSA) had decided to either vote against, abstain or not turn up to the meeting!! This is a total disgrace and in my opinion they should all question their purpose of being on the NEC, let alone being given the responsibility to act on behalf of the working class and vote on dispute matters which can change peoples lives for the worse…even when the evidence, witness statements and facts say one thing, they vote the opposite. Bear in mind that I myself work in a local hospital and am a Trade Union steward regularly defending NHS staff in disputes myself.

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Whatever other evidence was presented in the case, this recording – in which the other member warns Siddiqi that he will not be CLP secretary for much longer, as well as calling him an Islamic fundamentalist and extremist – is clearly extremely relevant and potentially mitigating or even exonerating.

Recording of abuse not even included in the Investigation Report  

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I am a victim of Labours disciplinary procedure.

I presented them with the evidence that showed clearly that the allegations were vindictive and part of a campaign against me, for the “sin” of helping to throw out a Tory MP and replace him with a Labour MP, much to the annoyance of some of the Weaver Vale CLP executive.

I do not know the origins of the allegations and I haven’t seen any proof, I suspect that is because it doesn’t exist and the party knows it’s all trumped up. This was taken with Iain McNicol who dismissed it saying the procedure had begun. Wow, thanks for that caring attitude.

On 7th December I requested and paid for a subject access request to see the “evidence” against me. Despite numerous requests for the party to fulfill their legal obligations I still haven’t had the information I require. The party are now in breach of the law.

When I know who accused me of racism, I intend to take it further to clear my name, but I cannot do that until I know who it is. Meanwhile, I am expelled from the party, with no way of clearing my name until such time as the party can be bothered to hold the disciplinary meeting. That’s now four months, not long by comparison with others, but shows what a farce the disciplinary procedure is.

IMO the members who make false, unsubstantiated, malicious and in my case libelous allegations against other members for their own ends, must themselves be subject to the disciplinary procedure.


.Every person I have spoken to who has been investigated speak about the structure of the investigation from beginning to end is such that it is loaded against them. It is not done in a spirit of fairness and from a neutral position. It is confrontational, questions are structured in such a way that it is clear that likely guilt is assumed.

People’s health, well being and reputations are at risk and many have been made very ill by the treatment they have received.

As Maria Carroll says above:

Eighteen months ago it was publicly stated that the Disputes Committee had agreed the need for a new disciplinary procedure. The elements that process would contain would include the right to representation, the presentation of all evidence used to suspend and other areas that are basic rights of justice. Rights that our unions have fought for in workplaces. Rights enshrined in the ACAS codes which if breached can lead to a judgement of unfair dismissal at Employment Tribunal.

We are still waiting.

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Nobody should be involved in the disputes process at any stage unless they understand the principles of due process and natural justice – and agree to abide by them!

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