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Demand for Natural Justice and Due Process

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Dear John

A party member with a high profile was suspended today – so I thought I’d offer some insights into the journey he faces based on what party members have experienced in the Labour Party disciplinary process. 

Firstly a complaint will be made to party HQ.  Staff will decide whether or not to suspend you. 

You won’t know who made the complaint nor its detail in fact you may not get told by the party officially that you are the subject of a complaint or suspension, you might hear about it in the media or read it on Facebook first. 

But you won’t get to see the evidence straightaway.

Once you eventually receive the ‘evidence’ of your alleged wrongdoing, you will learn that your social media has been trawled and comments you made photographed by a group of people, who will remain anonymous, but consist of people who are affiliated to political parties or organisations that are in competition to your party.

Some of these comments will be taken totally out of context to the rest of the conversation. Some of the comments you made in privacy to colleagues and friends will have been included and you will start to question your trust in people.

Names will be redacted of course but you may be lucky enough to know enough about how social media works to be able to see that some of the accounts that have screen grabbed your comments out of context are actually fake.

Their profiles will reveal extraordinarily elaborate fake profile set up to prove they share your values and opinions, complete with check-ins. Oh and you will notice that many of your ‘friends’ have also been taken on by these fake accounts. At this point you may wish to contact social media providers to complain about infringement of your privacy and the fact that fake accounts are allowed  – don’t bother, you are on your own. 

Being on your own will start to really come home now as you realise you are unable to attend any meetings or events organised by the party you are committed to. And the public lynching on social media will begin. There you will be proclaimed as guilty and every aspect of your life and every comment anyone ever disagreed with will be published. And shared. And retweeted. And blogged. And ultimately it will appear in the Daily Mail or The Sun or The Telegraph, or Conservative Home or …….

And everyone with an opinion will be on it like a rash, because after all in the world of labour politics right now,  you are guilty – not innocent until proven guilty.

But the worst of the isolation comes when the investigation starts. `When` being the operative word, because the waiting time is as unpredictable as a waiting list in NHS England, there are people who have been waiting, in pain, since 2016.

When your turn comes, you will be hauled in front of a staff member (whose routine job is managing campaigns in the regions) and refused the right to be accompanied. Well, let’s be fair and explain in case you are not au fait with the rights fought for by the trade union movement, the right to be accompanied means having someone who is experienced in representation to act on your behalf in that investigation.

In labour’s investigatory process you can have a ‘silent friend’ with you at the meeting, but they will be silent, the process denies them the right to speak. You might be lucky and have an investigation officer who has personal standards and allows your ‘silent witness’ to speak. To be fair I have known this happen once. On the other hand you may get the investigating officer in one of the Labour regions who won’t allow you to have the evidence used against you until 48 hours before the meeting.

At the end of that meeting the staff member will write a report, which you will not see, and so not be able to correct any inaccuracies or misunderstandings, with a recommendation as to whether your case should be referred to the NCC with a view to expulsion.

It will be about half a page of A4 and it will go before the NEC disputes committee (tabled on the day) who will by all accounts have about six minutes to consider your case. Please don’t rely on contacting any NEC members to share your experience and full facts on your case, because if that NEC member dares to speak out they will not be seen as a person elected to represent members seeking to ensure the process has been fair but as a person with factional interests who is as guilty as you are for speaking in defence of justice and due process.

If you are sent to the NCC you have about 2 years of this continued isolation to bear. But eventually,  about 8 weeks before your hearing you will finally see all the reports. But you are still on your own because you can’t be represented there either unless you have enough surplus income to afford legal representation.

But of course, there is an alternative. You may be fortunate enough to bypass the waiting list by being eligible for the disciplinary process equivalent of ‘private’ treatment. You might be able to afford legal representation from the very beginning, you might have colleagues that can help you in any number of ways. You might not be part of a group that is the target of leaks even.

You might even be fortunate enough to come across a number of activists in labour who are willing and able to help you. People who are committed to justice and fair process who have experience of disciplinary processes and have learnt through experiences of helping the thousands of members who have been subjected to, what they describe as the ‘purge’.

But don’t hold your breath on that one either because their numbers are becoming smaller as they become discovered as having offered support and advice – they too have been outed by certain groups and accused of crimes against the party.  Most notably accused of offering sanctuary to antisemites, despite the fact that of the 900 members they have assisted they have only come across 5 cases of alleged antisemitism. 

But as we have pointed out, let’s not let facts get in the way of name calling people as ‘trots, rabble, dogs, stalinists’ and any other term those opposed to labour care to throw.

Finally let me give you hope.

The scenarios I have described are changing. The change began when the NEC Membership altered late last year. It’s changed again since the new administration came into effect in the last few weeks. You are lucky, your case will be dealt with by an administration and an executive of which the majority support confidentiality and the provision of evidence in a timely manner to the accused.

You may be even luckier to see these people who believe in justice for all and the need for a fair process introduce a new disciplinary policy that doesn’t act as described above, that allows representation, that supports those who offer representation (without judgement) and protects them from the kind of harassment and abuse they have suffered merely for standing by the basic tenets of a just system. An administration that implements the recommendations of the Chakbrarti Report and does not allow its author to be ridiculed, humiliated and abused for believing in Human Rights inside and outside of the Labour Party. 

I wish you well in your journey and I hope you do not suffer what I have witnessed your colleagues,  members of our party, suffer through a process that is not fit for purpose and can be manipulated for political gain.

You, and every member of our party, are entitled to a fair process and to be innocent unless and until proved otherwise, to call character witnesses and to be represented by people who should not fear harassment by either anonymous groups with political agendas or persons in power with a factional agenda. Just as any member is entitled to make a complaint, to be heard and not judged. 

The ability to clarify any issues, to get support, to ask any questions is virtually non-existent: emails are ignored or fudged. In short there has been no respect for the principles of natural justice. 

I hope you and your colleagues will now join the calls for a complete review of our processes because I believe we have a leader who believes in justice and an administrative body and general secretary who will, given the support, make it happen.

Maybe even this letter sent from us last year will no be thrown back in out faces again:

  Letter and Statement to the NEC
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Disputes Panel – not fit for purpose

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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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

.

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

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