Formby slams as ‘categorically untrue’ Sunday Times claims over antisemitism

Formby slams as ‘categorically untrue’ Sunday Times claims over antisemitism

Labour's general secretary takes umbrage at leaks, saying "we do not tolerate leaking of staff correspondence, party records"

Joe Millis is a journalist

Labour general secretary Jennie Formby
Labour general secretary Jennie Formby

Labour’s general secretary Jennie Formby has written to MPs, complaining that a Sunday Times report on the way the party dealt with antisemitism was “selective and misrepresentative”.

In her letter, Formby repeated the now-hackneyed lined that the “Labour Party is clear – we take all complaints of antisemitism extremely seriously and we are committed to rooting it out of our Party.

“All complaints about antisemitism are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures. For data protection and confidentiality reasons, we do not and cannot comment on individual cases.”

She said the article also identified Labour Party staff members involved in disciplinary cases, “included selective extracts of staff emails relating to live disciplinary cases and false assertions about the involvement of the Leader’s Office”.

Formby added that this caused “considerable distress to staff members who are working hard to stamp out antisemitism in our Party”.

Appearing to take more umbrage at the leaks than the allegations, Formby wrote: “We do not tolerate leaking of staff correspondence, party records, and we robustly dispute the claims of the article from which lines have been selectively leaked from emails to grossly misrepresent their overall contents.

“We regret that such material has found its way into the public domain. Selective and misrepresentative coverage through right-wing media which is politically hostile to the Labour Party does not aid the victims of abuse, the subjects of disciplinary procedures, or the wider party.”

She dismissed as “categorically untrue”, claims that the Leader’s office had been involved in approving, delaying or blocking at least 101 complaints. “The full email chain shows a staff member in the Governance and Legal Unit make clear it’s right and appropriate that Jennie Formby had ended the practice of the Leader’s Office being asked for help with cases”, she wrote.

“However, it is appropriate for the Leader’s Office Political Secretary and the Whips’ Office to be made aware of complaints concerning elected representatives.”

She noted that “the Unite LE/975 trade union branch of Labour Party staff has recently passed a motion which stated, ‘Attacks on one or more members of staff are an attack on every member of staff as they put us all at risk of public criticism in the media and abuse on social media, without any public right of reply’ and urged that, ‘Labour MPs must always respect and uphold the values and beliefs of the Party, and must therefore never publicly attack Party staff, either directly or indirectly, on or off the record’.

“I support that policy and hope the PLP can express it’s [sic] support for staff and do so as well.”

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