Former Momentum vice-chair Jackie Walker has threatened legal action after being expelled from the Labour Party over allegedly antisemitic comments, following a suspension lasting almost three years.
The party’s National Constitutional Committee ordered Jackie Walker’s expulsion after finding that she had breached Labour’s rules in a series of social media posts which were “prejudicial” to the party.
She was initially disciplined three years ago after saying “many Jews were chief financiers of the slave trade”, before being readmitted after an investigation. She was again suspended in October 2016.
The former vice-chair of the Corbyn-backing Momentum movement responded with a post on her Facebook page: “The party of justice and equality for all will be hearing from my solicitor.”
The Jewish Labour Movement welcomed her expulsion but criticised the party for taking so long to act. A spokesperson said “despite a clear and unambiguous case of prejudicial and grossly detrimental behaviour against the Party, this expulsion comes two and a half years too late.”
They accused her of having been “key to perpetuating a culture of denial and obfuscation” of antisemitism, and being “free to make a mockery of the Party’s processes because she was a political ally of the leadership, NEC members and had support from MPs’.”
Our members will be expected to be grateful. Instead, they’ll be angry it took so long, and angry that many people will want to say this is ‘job done’ on antisemitism in the Party.”
The Board of Deputies of British Jews, Jewish Leadership Council and Community Security Trust issued a joint statement to say that the right decision had been reached, but echoed JLM’s regret that “the hearing took far too long to happen”.
“It made the right decision, but nobody wins in this latest ugly case of disreputable behaviour.”
The Jewish Voice for Labour group denounced her expulsion as a “travesty of justice”.
Walker’s case has become a subject of fierce internal controversy within Labour since her suspension almost three years ago.
The activist has conducted a vigorous campaign in her own defence, including a one-woman show entitled ‘The Lynching‘ in which she denied being antisemitic and accused her critics of engaging in a “witch hunt”.
Left-wing MP Chris Williamson was criticised by party officials for arranging a screening of a film about her in Parliament, just days before his own suspension for claiming Labour had overreacted to antisemitism allegations.
Before the meeting, ‘Labour Against the Witchhunt’ hosted a rally in support of Williamson and Walker – attended by former London Mayor Ken Livingstone, Walker and Jewish Voice for Labour member Graham Bash.
She was accused of linking Jews with the Atlantic slave trade in a social media post in 2016.
Shortly afterwards, fresh complaints were made over comments at a training session on confronting anti-Semitism at Labour’s annual conference, where she questioned a proposed definition of anti-Semitism and said that non-Jewish victims of genocide should be recognised on Holocaust Memorial Day, as they already are.
On Tuesday, she claimed she was refused “a few short moments to personally address the disciplinary panel to speak in my own defence”, adding that “all I have ever asked for is for equal treatment, due process and natural justice; it seems that this is too much to ask of the Labour Party.”
In response to claims made by a Walker , a Labour Party spokesperson said: “Jackie Walker has made a number of incorrect and misleading claims about this process. The procedures ensure due process and fair hearing, including the opportunity for individuals to fully state their case at their hearing. The process is the same for everyone and the order of the events is clearly explained to those involved in advance.”
The three-person disputes panel chaired the meeting which concluded on Wednesday.
A Labour spokesman said on Wednesday: “The National Constitutional Committee has found that the charges of breaches of party rules by Jackie Walker have been proven.
“The National Constitutional Committee consequently determined that the sanction for this breach of the rules is expulsion from Labour Party membership.”
The NCC is an autonomous body independent of the party’s staff and leadership, and is the only body with the power to expel members.
Once a complaint is referred for an NCC hearing, the case against the individual is prepared and prosecuted by the party, but the decision is in the NCC’s hands.
It is understood that the case against her, presented behind closed doors, relied on a pattern of behaviour over a period of time, including many comments on social media.
Joe Glasman, of the Campaign Against Antisemitism, claimed that Labour had been prompted to act in the long-running case by the decision of the Equality and Human Rights Commission earlier this month to launch an enforcement process to look into claims of anti-Semitism in the party.
“It is because Labour has shown itself to be incapable of addressing anti-Semitism cases in a fair, transparent and timely manner that Campaign Against Antisemitism brought in the EHRC to take charge,” said Mr Glasman.
“Labour’s decision to finally act, now that the Commission is at the gate, is not a sign of change, but merely an act of naked self-preservation by a political party being brought face-to-face with its own racism.”
The Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) group said the party would eventually be “deeply ashamed” of its treatment of Ms Walker.
“The party has enabled a process in which a principled and fearless member has been persecuted by violation of trust, by media campaign, through bullying by senior members within the party, and by a seriously flawed process which has allowed racist commentary on her person to form part of the charge against her,” said JVL in a statement.