Labour mulls action to stop 'political forces' skewing key anti-Semitism probes
Cases of anti-Semitism in Labour could be anonymised in a bid to address fears "political forces" are at play, a leaked report has revealed.
The party has been hit by a row over anti-Jewish abuse in recent months, with the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Jewish Leadership Council and some of the party's own MPs urging Jeremy Corbyn to do more to tackle the problem.
Former London mayor Ken Livingstone dramatically quit Labour last month following a two-year probe into controversial remarks he made claiming Adolf Hitler had supported Zionism.
A leaked progress report from the party's ruling National Executive Committee, revealed by the Jewish Chronicle and HuffPost UK, acknowledges that Labour's current processes for dealing with complaints of anti-Jewish abuse are "not swift enough from start to finish" and are seen as "susceptible to political forces".
The anti-Semitism working group also acknowledges that there is a perceived "lack of consistency" in the way cases are judged.
Listing a series of concerns including "Speed", "Consistency", and "Communication", the document reveals that the party is considering bringing in a "standardised timetable" for responding to complaints, as well as copying its approach to sexual harassment claims by setting up dedicated three-strong panel of trained NEC members to deal with anti-Semitism.
In a bid to tackle perceptions that anti-Semitism cases are "not dealt with in a consistent manner due to political forces influencing decisions with particular respondents", the group recommends that reports on anti-Jewish abuse are anonymised when they are put to the new panel.
Some high-profile anti-Semitism complaints against Labour members have meanwhile dragged on for months after legal action by those accused, a problem acknowledged by the leaked document.
"NCC [National Constitutional Committee] cases are delayed because they have taken on a litigious nature, meaning that respondents sometimes invest in extensive legal representation and take out court injunctions to delay cases to provide maximum time for solicitors to prepare cases," it says.
To try and speed up the process, the group says those accused of anti-Semitism "should be reminded of their right to bring other types of representation" such as a trade union representative to their hearing, rather than relying on lawyers.
The group also calls for specialist training on anti-Semitism for "all NEC members, all NCC members and all staff working on the disciplinary process", and says those accused of such abuse should be encouraged to stop going public with their grievances or risk conduct that is "grossly detrimental to the party".
The leaked document meanwhile sheds light on a host of sanctions being considered for members who face anti-Semitism claims.
For cases that stop short of full recommendation to the party's top brass, they include a verbal "Reminder of Conduct", educational training, or a written warning.
In instances "where it appears there is a case to answer", the working group is mulling a host of stronger sanctions, ranging from formal warnings to suspension "from all party activity" until the end of the dispute process.