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Confidential The Labour Party

National Executive Committee

Recommendations of the NEC Antisemitism Working Group

Labour Head Office, Southside

22 May 2018 at 12:00

Summary
Stakeholders across the Party have raised concerns that the Party’s process of dealing
with Antisemitism cases in particular needs to be improved. The perception is that the
process is not swift enough from start to finish, that it is susceptible to political forces at
each stage of the process and that there is a lack of consistency in how cases are
adjudicated on.

The proposed changes in this document seek to take the themes outlined in the
Chakrabarti report and apply them as a first step in a root and branch review of how the
process works – learning the lessons from recent changes to the way the Party handles
other types of complaints – most notably Sexual Harassment.

The Current Process


Currently, when a complaint arrives alleging antisemitism, it is sent to the complaints team
which sits independently of the Governance and Legal Unit. Here, it is logged and checked
against the Party’s membership lists to ensure the complaint does pertain to a current
member of the Party.

If the complaint is about a current member of the Party, it is then assigned to an


Investigations Officer (IO) in the Disputes Team who oversee all membership
investigations. The Complaints Team keep the complainant up to date with the progress of
the investigation/disciplinary process and inform them of the eventual outcome.

The Investigating Officer reviews the information provided and applies a set of tests to
determine whether, on the evidence provided, there is a prima facie breach of the Party’s
rules (in almost all cases, this rule will be 2.I.8, which was updated at the 2017’s Annual
Conference). If those tests are satisfied, the IO sends a recommendation for consistent
and proportionate action to the Head of Disputes.

The Head of Disputes sends all relevant information including the Party’s recommendation
to the UK General Secretary, copying in a predefined decision making staff member in the
General Secretary’s office (GSO), and any other relevant Party staff such as the Regional
Director.

Once the General Secretary’s Office (GSO) provide their feedback, the IO actions the
agreed course of action. In almost all cases, this is either a letter for less serious cases or
an Administrative Suspension where it is more serious and/or deemed to be in the Party’s
immediate interests to do so.

In almost all cases where the evidence is documentary (social media/email), the
respondent will be provided with all the evidence which has been used to make the
decision to take further disciplinary action along with a set of questions which they are
asked to respond to within 14 days.

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Once these answers are provided, the Party will normally have enough information to
conclude the matter either by ending the investigation or by writing a report to go to the
next quarterly meeting of the Disputes Panel. In rare cases, the respondent’s answers
require further interrogation; this may be done via an interview or more likely via further
correspondence.

The NEC’s Disputes Panel consider a report on the matter at their next meeting, which
may be as many as 17 weeks away, and decide whether there is a case to answer and
therefore refer the matter to the National Constitutional Committee (NCC) to be dealt with
under their rules (Appendix 6). This generally takes the form of a hearing.

The IO then formulates the finalised charges; NEC’s opening submission to the hearing
and the bundle of evidence and supplies to the secretary of the NCC.
Specific Recommendations:

Speed

o Concern: There is a perception that it takes too long for the Party to take any action
on complaints which are received.
o Steps already taken: The Party’s speed in responding to complaints has been
helped by extra staffing resource for the Complaints & Disputes Teams. Dealing
with difficult decisions on administrative suspensions has been helped by a formal
structure for raising these cases with GSO.
o Recommendation: On top of the current processes, a standardised timetable will
be used going forward, whereby complaints will be actioned within a certain
timeframe and indicative timetables (Service Level Agreements) will be included
with the initial notice of investigation, as well as an indicative timetable provided
running up to the next stage of the process (NEC Disputes/NEC Antisemitism Panel
consideration or NCC hearing.

o Concern: The Disputes Panel only meets quarterly which is not regularly enough to
consider these matters as swiftly as is necessary.
o Steps already taken: For complaints which relate to Sexual Harassment, the Party
implemented a fast-tracked timetable making use of 3 member NEC panels drawn
from a set of specially trained NEC members. This element of the process has
worked well and has allowed matters to be referred to the NCC or otherwise
resolved much more quickly than would otherwise be possible.
o Recommendation: Learning the lessons from the elements of the Sexual
Harassment process which have worked well, this document recommends that the
Party sets up specific panels for dealing with antisemitism. Within the broader group
of 10 or so specifically trained NEC members, 3 member panels would be
constructed on a more regular basis than it is possible for the full Disputes Panel to
meet, made up of trained members whose availability is communicated to the chair
and secretary of the NEC Disputes Panel. They would act with the authority of the
NEC Disputes Panel to decide whether the matter needed to be referred to the
NCC.

o Concern: The length of time between the Disputes Panel referring the matter to the
NCC and the hearing taking place is too long.

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o Steps already taken: Since January, for the first time, the Party has a dedicated
member of staff who works within the Disputes Team and is responsible for
compiling NCC bundles and a plan is in place to deal with the backlog of NCC
cases by the July meeting of the Disputes Panel – good progress is being made on
this project. Since April this has been further supported by a team of lawyers who
have been drafted in to help with this process. These measures should see delays
reduced in the near future.
o Recommendation: Continued effort should be put into improving the speed of
production of NCC bundles. There is also delay while the hearing itself is arranged
after the charge bundle has been supplied to the secretary of the NCC. This
document recommends that the NCC is asked to make greater use of provisions in
Appendix 6, paragraph 4 which allow the NCC “in what they deem to be appropriate
circumstances, to dispose of a case without hearing and to rely solely on written
representations”. While there are some cases which this would not be appropriate
for, the evidence in the vast majority of current antisemitism cases is entirely
documentary and it would therefore be appropriate for the NCC to make use of
these procedures in order to speed up the process.

o Concern: NCC cases are delayed because they have taken on a litigious nature,
meaning that respondents sometimes invest in extensive legal representation and
take out court injunctions to delay cases to provide maximum time for solicitors to
prepare cases.
o Recommendation: Respondents should be reminded of their right to bring other
types of representation – e.g. Trade Union representative – that are not a lawyer to
their hearing.

Consistency

o Concern: A perceived lack of consistency is in part caused by the need for better
training of all National Executive Committee members, relevant staff and any other
relevant stakeholders.
o Recommendation: As with Sexual Harassment cases, training will be procured
which will be offered to all NEC members, all NCC members and all staff working
on the disciplinary process.

o Concern: There is a perception that cases are not dealt with in a consistent manner
due to political forces influencing decisions with particular respondents – particularly
at the NEC Disputes Panel stage of the process.
o Recommendation: The reports on antisemitism are anonymised when they are put
to the 3 member antisemitism panel in a similar way to how names are redacted
from papers which go to the NEC Sexual Harassment Panel.

o Concern: Insufficient frameworks may be in place to ensure that decisions are


always being taken on the same basis.
o Recommendation: Decision making matrices should be established, as
appropriate by the new general counsel, to guide decision makers about the
relevant tests to apply at each stage of the process.

o Concern: There is a lack of clarity about the role that the NEC plays in the
consideration of disciplinary matters.
o Recommendation: An NEC guidance document is produced which can be used by
the Disputes Panel and circulated to respondents which clarifies the role of the

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Disputes Panel (or any panel with delegated authority).

o Concern: NEC Disputes Panel members feel that the summaries they receive of
the cases coming before them, and the timeframe they see them in, does not allow
them to make an informed judgement on each case.
o Recommendation: A standardized template of how cases will be reported to NEC
Antisemitism Panel will be produced. This will list key information such as number
of witnesses, number of pieces of evidence, number of complaints etc. so that
Disputes Panel members have an easy way of viewing information on each case.

o Concern: There is not enough transparency about the number of outstanding


cases.
o Recommendation: NEC Antisemitism Panel will be provided with a summary
document of the number of outstanding cases, the stage of ongoing cases, broken
down by type of complaint (e.g. antisemitism, harassment etc.).

o Concern: Respondents seek public attention to campaign against their suspension,


which in turn creates wider problems both for themselves and other Labour Party
members who campaign on their behalf.
o Recommendation: All parties should be reminded that public conduct, may
adversely impact progress of an ongoing investigation. Such conduct may appear to
be grossly detrimental to the Party

Communication

o Concern: Complainants and respondents do not feel that they are kept adequately
up to date with the status of their complaint or the disciplinary proceedings being
taken against them.
o Steps already taken: The creation of the Complaints Unit, made up of 3 full time
staff and a new bespoke system to manage all complaints received by the Labour
Party has significantly improved the way in which complainants and respondents
are communicated with. The next step in the development of the software platform
will allow similar improvements to be made on the respondent side by linking the
systems which monitor inbound complaints and ongoing investigations.
o Recommendation: This document recommends that the development to link the
two systems is completed as scheduled.

o Concern: Both complainants and respondents feel that they are not properly
informed of the likely timetable for their investigation.
o Steps already taken: For cases involving Sexual Harassment, where there are
deadlines for document submissions and ad-hoc panels of the NEC SH Panel, a
timetable is provided to all involved parties with each of those deadlines from the
outset.
o Recommendation: This document recommends that for all new cases, indicative
timetables (SLAs) are included with the initial notice of investigation and
administrative suspension an indicative timetable is provided running up to the next
stage of the process (NEC Disputes/NEC Panel consideration) – or where the
matter has been referred to the NCC, an indicative timetable for when the hearing
will have taken place. Any alterations or delays to that timetable would be
communicated to all involved parties at the earliest practicable opportunity. The
NEC Disputes Panel will see indicative timetables to oversee length of time cases
are outstanding for. If these SLAs are consistently not being met, this should

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facilitate data-led conversations about priorities in order to bring the process back
into compliance.

NB: (i) The Chakrabarti report recommended the appointment of in-house Counsel and
this process is now well under way. When appointed, the postholder will conduct a detailed
legal review of all our processes and may make additional recommendations to further
strengthen those made in this document

(ii) The NEC Organisation sub-Committee agreed to establish a working group to review
all aspects of the Disputes process. This working group will be convened as soon as the
antisemitism working group is concluded and will work closely with the in-house Counsel.

List of Possible Sanctions

- Informal Sanctions

In the cases, where the respondent’s answers to the fact-finding questions do not require
further questioning, the Panel may decide that informal sanctions is the most appropriate
course of action. This is likely to apply where respondents have shown understanding of
the concerns arising from the matter and is unlikely ever to be appropriate in the most
serious cases.

Where it becomes apparent during the investigation process that such informal outcomes
have already taken effect, this may, where appropriate, allow the outcome to be reported
to the Panel without the need for full consideration of all details of the case.

o Reminder of Conduct: This is one step short of a formal NEC warning and can
be given verbally.

o First written warning – If the member’s conduct does not improve the Party
should issue a first written warning. The member should be informed that this is
an informal disciplinary action, the details of the conduct must be outlined and it
must be clear that any further decline or continuation within 12 months of this
conduct could lead to formal disciplinary sanctions.

o Specific educational training to be decided by the NEC Antisemitism Panel.

o No further action.

- Formal Sanctions

In the cases, where it appears there is a case to answer, the Panel may decide that a
formal sanction is the most appropriate course of action.

o Formal NEC Warning – If the member’s conduct has not improved within the given
period, a formal NEC Warning should be issued. A NEC Formal Warning should
remain on file for a defined period, with appropriate weight given to it in future,
depending on the length of time since the warning, and the similarity of any repeat
alleged conduct.

o Administrative Suspension from all party activity (pending hearing): Until the NCC

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hearing has concluded, this member would not be able to participate in the Labour
Party in any way, excepting in such ballots of all individual members as may be
prescribed by the NEC.

o Administrative Suspension from CLP meetings (pending hearing): Until the NCC
hearing has concluded, this member would only be able to participate in their
branch meetings.

o Refer to NCC without administrative suspension: The member would have no limits
placed on their membership until the NCC hearing has concluded.

o Re-endorsement interview for prospective candidate: where the member is a


candidate for public office, this would instruct the LCF (or other appropriate body) to
re-interview the individual on the basis of a change in circumstance.

o Mandatory training: Specific training to be decided by the NEC Antisemitism Panel.


This outcome could be combined with any of the above.

o No further action

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