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Sat, 6 June 2020

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Row erupts as former Jeremy Corbyn aide is made Labour's head of complaints

Row erupts as former Jeremy Corbyn aide is made Labour's head of complaints
3 min read

A row has erupted over a former aide to Jeremy Corbyn being put in charge of Labour's complaints unit.

Laura Murray was given the job barely two months after being moved from the Labour leader's office to provide "administrative support" in the department.

Labour bosses were last month forced to deny reports that Ms Murray - the daughter of Corbyn adviser and senior Unite adviser Andrew Murray - had become the party's head of complaints.

Party chiefs have been repeatedly forced to deny claims of interference in the complaints process by Mr Corbyn's office.

A spokesman for the Jewish Labour Movement said Ms Murray's appointment was "the last thing that will restore confidence in a broken and corrupt system".

The party has been dogged by accusations that it has failed to properly deal with allegations of anti-semitism against hundreds of its members.

In February, Ms Murray was moved from her role as a stakeholder manager in Mr Corbyn's office to the complaints unit to help clear a backlog of cases.

At the time, a party source said: "This is standard procedure to re-allocate resources from one part of the organisation when another part of the party comes under strain and requires additional staff support.

"Ensuring complaints on anti-semitism are processed quickly is an absolute priority for the party which is why these additional resources have been reallocated."

A committee of backbench Labour MPs was then told in March by a senior party official that Ms Murray had been put in charge of the complaints process.

But a source said: "Laura is not acting head of complaints. A staff member made an error in the Parliamentary Committee. 

"The head of complaints is still in post. She decided to move on to a new job a few months ago but is still currently in post.  The job will be advertised in due course."

It has now emerged that Ms Murray applied for and was given the plum role.

The JLM spokesperson told PoliticsHome: "Given the levels of political interference from the Leader's Office, including Laura Murray, into complaints revealed recently, personally, this is the last thing that will restore confidence in a broken and corrupt system.

"If Labour was really interested in building trust with its Jewish members and voters and tackling anti-Jewish racism, it wouldn't have gone for this shoddy quick-fix. It would have agreed to what JLM and the Jewish community has been demanding - a fully independent, properly resourced system.

"Without taking such a clean break from the current failed system, it is hard to see how Labour and Jeremy Corbyn will tackle the institutionalised crisis of anti-semitism in the party."

A Labour spokesperson said they do not comment on staffing matters.

"Our recruitment processes are open, fair and designed to find the best person for the job, and that's what happened in this case."

A party source said: This appointment was subject to a full and open recruitment process, in the usual way.

"In her previous role, Laura worked closely with Jewish organisations and equalities groups, and developed extensive knowledge about antisemitism, sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination."

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