Labour probe into Ian Austin branded a ‘farce and a disgrace’ by lawyers

Labour probe into Ian Austin branded a ‘farce and a disgrace’ by lawyers

Party accused of attempting to "silence our client for his legitimate, honestly-held criticisms" as they conduct an investigation into the backbench politician

Ian Austin MP
Ian Austin MP

Lawyers for Ian Austin MP have described the Labour’s investigation into him as a “farce and a disgrace”, after he clashed with the party chairman over its new code on anti-Semitism.

Ian Austin’s legal representatives, Hamlins, responded to Labour’s General Secretary who wrote to him three weeks ago, warning him he faced a probe for “abusive conduct”.

The legal response says Austin had emailed Formby on 23 July saying: “It has been more than three days since you called me and sent me your letter so can you tell me today what I am alleged to have done please?”

“If you are not able to tell me, can you tell me why and when you will be able to tell me?”

His lawyers said the “process has been a farce and a disgrace.  It has plainly been designed to silence our client for his legitimate, honestly-held criticisms of Mr Corbyn’s failure to address the scourge of antisemitism in the Labour Party.”

The letter added that the party “has failed to observe the most rudimentary principles of natural justice, due process and transparency” and the party is “prejudging the complaints”.

Jennie Formby’s letter to Austin on 19 July warned the backbencher that “You should be aware that any future behaviour of a similar nature to the allegation above could result in further disciplinary action, including the possibility of administrative suspension while the matter is investigated.”

Austin published the letters after the party decided to drop disciplinary action against Jewish MP Margaret Hodge, after she confronted the Labour leader over the party’s anti-Semitism row. She reportedly called Corbyn “an anti-Semite and a racist” for his conduct over the party’s failure to adopt the full IHRA definition of anti-Semitism.

Hodge denies that any apology was made for the incident from her or the party, despite Labour sources claiming she spoke of “regret” at the manner in which she expressed her views.

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