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Labour Party Drops Lawsuit Against Five Ex-Staffers Accused Of Leaking Report

Keir Starmer at a Labour launch event (PA Images / Alamy)

3 min read

The Labour Party has dropped its lawsuit against five ex-staffers who had been accused of leaking a controversial internal report.

"The Party is discontinuing its legal claims against Karie Murphy, Seumas Milne, Georgie Robertson, Harry Hayball and Laura Murray on a ‘no order as to costs’ basis. The five welcome the resolution of the claims," a joint statement by the Labour Party and Carter Ruck, released today, confirms.

Labour had asked the High Court last year to delay the full hearing in the case until at least February 2025. The BBC reported in October 2023 that Labour could face a multi-million pound legal bill and had cost the party almost £1.4m to date.

An unredacted 860-page report, entitled “The work of the Labour Party’s Governance and Legal Unit in relation to antisemitism, 2014 – 2019”, was distributed online and to journalists in April 2020.

The 'Labour leaks' report alleged that Labour Party employees who were opposed to Jeremy Corbyn's leadership worked against him, damaged the party's electoral chances and sent abusive messages about senior figures.

Some criticised the document on the basis it presented a biased view of events under Corbyn's leadership and claimed it was leaked in a bid to "smear" staffers who had exposed antisemitism in Labour.

The report was originally intended to be a submission from the Labour Party to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), which conducted an investigation into Labour antisemitism that concluded in October 2020 and found Labour had breached the Equality Act.

On the basis of legal advice, the report was not ultimately sent to the EHRC, but the document was leaked in full. The leak prompted two investigations by Labour – one by an independent external investigator and another by Martin Forde QC.

The five former party staffers have always denied the allegations against them, calling them "baseless claims", and always maintained that neither of Labour's subsequent investigations into the claims had – to their understanding – concluded they were responsible for the leak.

An investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office did not establish the source of the leak either.

Commenting on the news that the parties have come to a resolution, Mish Rahman, a member of the party's National Executive Committee, accused Labour of spending "millions of pounds in members’ money" on pursuing the case so far that "could have been spent on the general election".

"As with his hamfisted targeting of Diane [Abbott] and other left-wing women of colour, this pointless and vindictive failed lawsuit is another example of Starmer allowing his bully boys to get carried away with their war on the left when it’s clearly not in the party’s electoral or financial interests to do so," Rahman added.

A Labour MP and former shadow cabinet member criticised the selection of Alex Barros-Curtis, the head of Labour's legal unit, as a Labour candidate in the general election. He will stand in Cardiff West after being chosen directly by the NEC.

“This is a huge embarrassment for the party. This official, who was appointed to a top job at Labour HQ by Starmer, has wasted eye-watering sums which could have made the difference in key seats in this election," the MP said.

"But the Labour leadership has now rewarded him with a safe seat with which he has no connection. This is yet another case of faction first, before the interests of either the party or the country.”

The Labour Party has been contacted for comment.

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