Labour figureheads hit out at former leader Jeremy Corbyn as legal cases mount
Members of Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer's shadow cabinet have been engaging in fierce criticism of his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn, accusing him of being responsible for a raft of legal cases against the party, the Telegraph reports.
On Wednesday this week, Labour agreed to pay out around £370,000 in damages to whistleblowers who had spoken out about anti-Semitism in the party.
The Telegraph also reports that the party is facing a minimum of 40 other civil claims, with one linked to a leaked internal report on how Labour had handled anti-Semitism.
Other claims are thought to be concerned with allegations of breaching data privacy, misuse of sensitive information and acts of libel.
The leaked report was put together in the waning months of Corbyn’s stint as Labour leader, and included details of misconduct allegations against former party officials and named complainants in cases relating to anti-Semitism.
The report was leaked shortly after Sir Keir was elected Labour leader back in April. An independent inquiry into the matter is now being headed by Martin Forde QC.
According to the Telegraph, the potential legal payouts could amount to several millions of pounds.
The news outlet quoted one Labour frontbencher as saying: “We’re paying the price with money that could be used serving the public, we’re paying the price by losing control of councils such as Brighton, because of the councillors that have left the party under the stain of anti-Semitism.
“The question now is how deep is the hole the Labour party has been dug into by Corbyn and his acolytes.”
Another unnamed shadow cabinet minister said: “This is the Corbyn legacy. People should be angry.”
More legal action is to follow after BBC journalist John Ware and a number of the anti-Semitism whistleblowers appointed libel lawyer Mark Lewis to pursue claims against Corbyn following the former Labour chief's lack of remorse over the settlements agreed by the party this week.
Corbyn called it "disappointing" that the party had been apologetic to the Panorama reporter over smears made against him after his anti-Semitism investigation into Labour in July 2019, adding that the move handed “credibility to misleading and inaccurate allegations about action taken to tackle anti-Semitism in the Labour party in recent years.”
Lewis, a partner at legal firm Patron Law, told the BBC on Wednesday that 32 individuals had contacted him asking for action to be taken against Labour over the leaked report.
Lord McNicol, the former Labour general secretary who stepped down during Corbyn’s time as leader, was confirmed by Lewis to be one of those pursuing action.
The report blames former Labour officials opposed to Corbyn for hampering efforts to tackle anti-Semitism and sabotaging the party's 2017 election campaign, including Lord McNicol.
Lewis said: “There are 32 people who have instructed me to take action.
"Their actions are in respect to data breaches, misuse of private information, libels — It's like an exam question for a libel lawyer to look through them and see how many claims you can find.
“There are many other people who are named in the report, they come under different categories: people who work for the party, people who were in the party in political positions.”