Emergency NEC Report – April 2020

An emergency meeting of Labour’s national executive committee (NEC) was held on April 23rd to agree the terms of reference into an investigation about a leaked internal Labour Party report, which contained serious allegations about behaviour and culture.

The meeting took place via Zoom. The NEC welcomed eight new members, including a new leader and deputy leader, two new local party reps, a new BAME rep and three new frontbench appointments. The NEC congratulated Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner on their victories. It was a shame that their first meeting took place in such circumstances.

Jennie Formby gave a brief report. It was agreed that the meeting would not discuss the report itself, and instead focus on agreeing the terms of reference for the external, independent investigation.

Jennie outlined some of the actions taken as a result of the leak, including reporting the incident to the Information Commissioner’s Office and the police, who will be updated on any relevant issues that might arise. An internal investigation is taking place into the serious data breach, and Labour is working with social media outlets to take down any copies of the leaked document that exist online. CLP secretaries have been reminded that the leaked report should not be shared. Support has been put in place to support staff, and anyone found guilty of threatening or abusive behaviour will face disciplinary action.

Keir Starmer gave his first leader’s report. He described the content and publication of the report as a dark moment in our party’s history. He noted that its timing during a national crisis means we are talking to ourselves and looking inward rather than focusing on the huge challenges the country faces. Keir said he understood the anger at the content of the report and the anger of the people named in the report, some of whom have received death threats. Keir noted that we believe in law and natural justice, so must get to the truth and facts of the report and the circumstances that led to them being in the public domain. If people have broken party rules, they should face the consequences, whoever they are.

The NEC discussed the terms of reference and suggested a number of amendments, some of which were accepted. The panel leading the independent inquiry will be appointed now that the terms of reference have been agreed.

This special NEC meeting only discussed the terms of reference for the leaked report. The next full NEC is scheduled for May. Areas of future discussion include: reflecting on the general election defeat and learning the lessons for the future; reviewing Labour’s policy-making process; setting up an independent process for complaints; and responding to the findings of the EHRC report into antisemitism in the Labour Party.

The EHRC can make recommendations, which Labour will be obliged to adopt (their recommendations are not voluntary). Keir Starmer has been clear that restoring faith in Labour’s complaints process and regaining the trust of the Jewish community is a key priority. I look forward to supporting him and NEC colleagues in this work.

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