A legal crowdfunding campaign backed by the pro- Jeremy Corbyn group Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) has raised more than £22,000 this month.
The appeal, made on the website www.crowdjustice.com under the moniker Labour Activists 4 Justice, has drawn close to 700 pledges so far and the support of JVL, a left-wing group set up in 2017 and strongly critical of the Jewish Labour Movement, the party’s Jewish affiliate.
The crowdfunding campaign’s description states it was launched by a group of unnamed “Labour Party members who have been caught up in the absurdities of Labour’s disciplinary processes who want to see them changed”.
“These processes are unjust and unfair, and we intend to use the law to get them changed. We have started the action, but we need your help to be able to complete it,” the appeal says.
The group are being represented by the London lawfirm Bindmans, according to the description accompanying the appeal, however Jewish News has not yet been able to confirm the claim.
JVL urged its supporters to contribute to the appeal in a statement published on its website earlier this month.
Those behind the appeal had “been strongly advised by their lawyers that they may place themselves in further jeopardy if their names are made public before the papers are lodged with the court and this appeal is to pay for the work to do that,” according to the JVL statement.
It was unclear who was involved in the fundraising campaign and what, if any, disciplinary action they were involved in.
Euan Philipps, spokesperson for Labour Against Antisemitism, said: “This fundraising activity by JVL looks a transparent attempt to pressure Keir Starmer into watering down his measures to tackle anti-Jewish racism in the party.
“A number of apparent JVL activists have themselves been reported for promoting antisemitic views and are currently facing expulsion. Among these is Colin O’Driscoll, an organiser of this campaign and co-chair of Labour International, the Labour Party’s largest CLP. He was first reported by LAAS for alleged antisemitism back in March 2017 and was finally suspended earlier this year.”
He added: “The Labour Party hierarchy needs to stand firm in the face of such bullying tactics, and ensure it presses on with its key commitments to an independent complaints process and a zero tolerance approach towards antisemitism.”
Labour leader Keir Starmer has sought to move the party beyond the row over antisemitism that marred much of his predecessor’s tenure.
The party recently issued a public apology to former officials for making “defamatory and false” claims about them after they appeared on a Panorama episode entitled “Is Labour Anti-Semitic?”, which was aired last July.
The party also received the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s draft report into alleged antisemitism last month. It is expected to be published later this year.