Ex-Labour staffer’s bid to force party to say who leaked internal report refused

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Ex-Labour staffer’s bid to force party to say who leaked internal report refused

Judge refused application from Emilie Oldknow, Labour’s former director of governance, for an order forcing party to disclose who it “reasonably believes” was responsible

Labour leader Keir Starmer has sought to move the party beyond the row over antisemitism that marred much of his predecessor's tenure.
Labour leader Keir Starmer has sought to move the party beyond the row over antisemitism that marred much of his predecessor's tenure.

A former senior Labour staffer has lost a High Court bid to force the party to reveal who it believes leaked an internal report into the handling of allegations of antisemitism.

An 860-page report on Labour’s governance and legal unit, which found “no evidence” of antisemitism being handled differently from other complaints, was leaked in April last year.

The internal investigation carried out in the final months of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership concluded that “factional opposition” towards the former leader contributed to “a litany of mistakes” hindering efforts to tackle the crisis.

Emilie Oldknow – Labour’s former director of governance, who is also married to shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth – wants to bring claims for defamation and misuse of private information over the leaking of the report, which contains more than 500 references to her.

At a remote hearing last week, her lawyers asked the High Court to grant an order requiring Labour to reveal “the identity or identities of those responsible” for the leak so she can sue them.

In a ruling on Monday, Mrs Justice Tipples refused Ms Oldknow’s application for an order forcing Labour to disclose who it “reasonably believes” was responsible for the leak.

The judge said that “a request such as this smacks of fishing”, adding that requiring the party to identify who it thinks may have leaked the report “will be doing no more than identifying a list of who it reasonably believes are to be the culprits”.

She said: “There is therefore no certainty that the information sought will lead to the identification of the wrongdoer or wrongdoers.”

Mrs Justice Tipples found there was “a real risk that the order sought by the claimant will reveal the names of innocent persons”.

She added that this posed “a very real potential to cause harm to any innocent persons as they will then find themselves threatened with legal proceedings, which they will then have to defend”.

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