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Thu, 3 December 2020

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Labour staff 'no longer confident' party's general secretary has their safety as her top priority after leaking of anti-semitism report

Labour staff 'no longer confident' party's general secretary has their safety as her top priority after leaking of anti-semitism report

Labour general secretary Jennie Formby.

3 min read

Labour staff have said they "can no longer be confident" that the party's general secretary has their safety as her top priority after the leaking of an internal report on anti-semitism.

The party's 300-strong GMB branch passed a motion accusing Jennie Formby of effectively putting all of its employees under investigation by "trawling the emails and instant messenger logs" of senior staff.

And they said putting an unredacted copy of the 860-page into the public domain "is yet another example of the toxic culture of bullying and intimidation that exists with the Labour Party".

The hard-hitting motion is the latest salvo in the civil war that has erupted within the party less than two weeks after Keir Starmer replaced Jeremy Corbyn as leader.

The dossier was leaked to Sky News last weekend and revealed an extensive cache of WhatsApp messages between senior party officials - including  former general secretary Lord McNicol - 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.

The report also contained the names of whistleblowers who had accused Labour of failing to tackle anti-Jewish racism in its ranks.

Sir Keir 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.

The motion passed by the GMB branch - the largest representing Labour Party staff - said the report "raises serious questions about the conduct of the previous senior management team" over their WhatsApp messages.

But it goes on: "Publishing the identities of victims of racism as well as the private correspondence of its staff is conduct from the current senior management team which is no less disreputable".

The motion adds: "Staff can no longer be confident that the general secretary has the safet and welfare of staff as her top priority, and has allowed the physical and mental wellbeing of staff to be put at risk with the creation and leaking of this report.

"A period of calm would greatly improve morale across all staff teams, and ease tensions in order that problems can be resolved."

The Labour Party has been approached for comment.

But Len McCluskey, general secretary of the Unite union and an ally of Mr Corbyn, called for those named in the report to be suspended pending an investigation.

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."

It emerged on Wednesday evening that Lord McNicol has quit as a party whip pending the outcome of the independent probe.

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