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Former Labour general secretary Iain McNicol quits frontbench in the Lords over leaked anti-semitism report

Lord McNicol was Labour general secretary until 2018.

2 min read

A former Labour general secretary has quit the party's frontbench in the House of Lords while a probe is carried out into a leaked report on how it handled anti-semitism complaints.

Iain McNicol is referred to extensively throughout the 860-word document, which lifted the lid on deep splits between senior Labour officials and former leader Jeremy Corbyn's office.

The dossier was leaked to Sky News last weekend and revealed an extensive cache of WhatsApp messages between former party staff - including Lord McNicola - making derogatory remarks about the former Labour leader, his aides and frontbench allies.

It said their opposition to Mr Corbyn had undermined Labour's attempts to tackle anti-semitism as well as it 2017 general election campaign.

In particular, the report accused Lord McNicol of failing to do enough to deal with anti-Jewish racism when he was general secretary.

New leader Sir Keir Starmer and his deputy, Angela Rayner, have launched an independent inquiry into how the report was drawn up, its contents and the manner in which it was leaked.

A party spokesperson confirmed that the peer had quit as a Labour whip in the Lords pending the outcome of the probe.

James Schneider, Mr Corbyn’s former director of strategic communications, told The Guardian the leaked report was “shocking and clarifying”.

He said: "It suggests that some of those most responsible for the failure to deal with anti-semitism in the Labour party, which has frightened Jewish people and damaged the party, worked against the elected leadership and tried to shift the blame.

"There must be a reckoning for those who oversaw a system that allowed Holocaust deniers to remain in the party and deliberately undermined the chances of a Labour government."

It had earlier emerged that the GMB branch representing Labour Party staff said it was "unacceptable" that its members had been publicly named in the report and had their communications monitored.

“This is causing immense stress for those workers, as well as colleagues who are not named but now feel a deep sense of mistrust toward their employer, and the GMB is available to provide support for any of those staff members that require it," the union said.

But Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said those accused of sending abusive WhatsApp messages should be suspended by the party.

Writing for LabourList, he said: "Those named in the report have of course the right to defend, contextualise or explain what is set out. They could even just apologise."


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