Keir Starmer orders independent inquiry into leaked anti-semitism report amid fresh Labour civil war
Labour has descended into civil war once again.
Keir Starmer has ordered an "urgent independent inquiry" into a leaked report on anti-semitism in the Labour Party.
He and deputy leader Angela Rayner announced the move after a fresh Labour civil war erupted over the contents of the 860-page document.
It is understood the report was carried out by party officials close to Jeremy Corbyn.
The contents were leaked to Sky News at the weekend, and revealed a large number of WhatsApp messages between former party staff opposed to the former leader and his aides.
The dossier says the conversations show an “abnormal intensity of factional opposition to the party leader”, hampering his attempts to tackle anti-Jewish abuse by members.
Pro-Corbyn campaign group Momentum has demanded disciplinary action against those named in the document, while the Fire Brigades Union accused them of mounting a “vicious sabotage campaign” aganst the ex-leader.
In a joint-statement issued on Monday afternoon, Sir Keir and Ms Rayner said: "The content and the release of the report into the public domain raise a number of matters of serious concern.
“We will therefore commission an urgent independent investigation into this matter."
They said the probe will look at the circumstances in which the report was commissioned, its contents and how it was leaked.
“We have also asked for immediate sight of any legal advice the Labour Party has already received about the report," they added.
“In the meantime, we ask everyone concerned to refrain from drawing conclusions before the investigation is complete and we will be asking the general secretary to put measures in place to protect the welfare of party members and party staff who are concerned or affected by this report."
It is understood the document is a draft internal report that was put together to inform Labour’s response to the EHRC probe.
But party sources said it covered a time period longer than that under investigation, and does not represent a submission to the equalities watchdog.
FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: "This is clear evidence of what many party members knew all along - that whilst Jeremy Corbyn was trying to deliver a Labour government, senior Labour officials were conducting a vicious sabotage campaign against him.
"This abuse - which included repeated attempts to weaken Jeremy Corbyn's position - was taking place at the very same time that Labour activists were knocking on doors day and night to try and deliver a Labour government.
"Particular shame should be felt by those who were planning to oust Jeremy Corbyn less than four months after he had won a second leadership election.”
But one Labour insider told PoliticsHome: "This is a pathetic attempt to smear and discredit former staff in order to distract attention away from the failings of Corbyn regime by leaking tittle tattle from WhatsApp.
"It’s unfortunately typical of the bullying nature of certain members of Jeremy Corbyn’s team that they think spending time writing 800 pages of smears against former staff who have no right of reply is a good use of their time or members’ money."
PoliticsHome provides the most comprehensive coverage of UK politics anywhere on the web, offering high quality original reporting and analysis: Subscribe