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Fri, 4 December 2020

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Labour anti-semitism: party expected to apologise and settle in case brought by Panorama whistleblowers

Labour anti-semitism: party expected to apologise and settle in case brought by Panorama whistleblowers

A statement from the party is due to be read out in the High Court at 10am.

2 min read

Labour is expected to settle a defamation case on Wednesday launched by ex-employees who blew the whistle in a BBC Panorama investigation.

The party is being sued by seven whistleblowers who appeared in the 2019 documentary, which featured wide-ranging criticisms of the party’s anti-semitism complaints process.

They have accused the party of attempting to undermine their reputations after a statement responding to the programme dismissed them as "disaffected former staff" who had "personal and political axes" to grind.

Panorama Journalist John Ware is also suing the party over its claims that his team had engaged in “deliberate and malicious representations designed to mislead the public” in its broadcast.

A statement from the party — listed under the name of general secretary David Evans and expected to include an apology — is due to be read out in the High Court at 10am.

But both The Jewish Chronicle and The Guardian report that former senior figures in then-leader Jeremy Corbyn’s office are considering challenging the party over the settlement and expected apology.

In the hour-long programme titled 'Is Labour Anti-Semitic?', former members of Labour's disputes team, which investigates complaints against members, claimed their mental health was affected by the attitude of aides in Mr Corbyn's office.

Sam Matthews, the former head of the team, said he had contemplated suicide because of the stress he suffered in the job.

Jewish party members also detailed how they had been subjected to anti-semitic abuse at Labour meetings.

Labour’s response to the documentary sparked a fierce internal pushback at the time, with then-deputy leader Tom Watson saying the testimony of former officials had been “harrowing” and disputing the suggestion they were “disaffected”.

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