Wednesday 22 July 2020 / 10:29 AM Press Releases

An apology from the Labour Party to Kat Buckingham, Michael Creighton, Samuel Matthews, Dan Hogan, Louise Withers Green, Benjamin Westerman and Martha Robinson

An apology from the Labour Party to Kat Buckingham, Michael Creighton, Samuel Matthews, Dan Hogan, Louise Withers Green, Benjamin Westerman and Martha Robinson 

The Labour Party has today issued an unreserved apology to the former members of staff who contributed to a BBC Panorama programme about antisemitism within the Labour Party in July 2019.

Before the broadcast of the programme, the Labour Party issued a press release that contained defamatory and false allegations about these Whistleblowers. 

We acknowledge the many years of dedicated and committed service that the Whistleblowers have given to the Labour Party as members and as staff. We appreciate their valuable contribution at all levels of the Party. 

We unreservedly withdraw all allegations of bad faith, malice and lying. We would like to apologise unreservedly for the distress, embarrassment and hurt caused by their publication.  We have agreed to pay them damages.

Under the leadership of Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner, we are committed to tackling antisemitism within the Labour Party. Antisemitism has been a stain on the Labour Party in recent years. It has caused unacceptable and unimaginable levels of grief and distress for many in the Jewish community, as well as members of staff.

If we are to restore the trust of the Jewish community, we must demonstrate a change of leadership. That means being open, transparent and respecting the right of whistleblowers. We are determined to deliver that change.

Ends

Claim no. [           ]

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE

QUEEN’S BENCH DIVISION

MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS LIST

BETWEEN:

(1)  KATHERINE BUCKINGHAM

(2)  MICHAEL CREIGHTON

(3)  SAMUEL MATTHEWS

(4)  DANIEL HOGAN

(5) LOUISE WITHERS GREEN

(6) BENJAMIN WESTERMAN

(7) MARTHA ROBINSON

Claimants

-and-

LABOUR PARTY

Defendant                                                                   

STATEMENT IN OPEN COURT

Counsel for the Claimant

1. My Lord, in this action I appear for the Claimants, Ms Katherine Buckingham, Mr Michael Creighton, Mr Samuel Matthews, Mr Daniel Hogan, Ms Louise Withers Green, Ms Martha Robinson and Mr Benjamin Westerman.  My learned friend [XXXXX YYYYYY] appears for the Defendant, the Labour Party.

2. The Claimants were employees of the Labour Party.  The Claimants worked in the Labour Party’s Governance and Legal Unit and were responsible for investigation of allegations of misconduct by party members, including investigation of antisemitic conduct.

3. All the Claimants had concerns there was a lack of commitment by the Labour Party in the proper and effective investigation of antisemitism within the party and the consequential application of measures to root out antisemitism within the party.

4. After the Claimants left their employment with the Labour Party, they subsequently became Whistleblowers and were all contributors to a BBC Panorama programme about antisemitism within the Labour Party. The Whistleblowers were highly critical of the Labour Party’s approach to tackling antisemitism within its ranks.  The programme was broadcast on BBC One on 10 July 2019 between 9pm and 10pm.

5. Before the broadcast of the Panorama programme, the Labour Party issued a press release that contained defamatory and false allegations about the Whistleblowers.  The press release was published by the Labour Party directly to journalists.

6. The Labour Party claimed in a press release that the Whistleblowers, and each of them, “have always opposed Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, worked to actively undermine it, and have both personal and political axes to grind. This throws into doubt their credibility as sources”. This included allegations of deliberately delaying individual cases.

7. The Labour Party also accused one of the Whistleblowers of making a false and malicious statement. 

8. The Labour Party therefore accused the Whistleblowers of having acted in bad faith during and after their employment with the intention of harming the Labour Party. 

9. These defamatory statements were foreseeably republished and were intended by the Labour Party to be republished, very widely in the media and social media.  Among the news outlets that re-published these false allegations were the BBC, Sky News, The Times, The Daily Mirror, The Daily Mail, The Sun, The Independent and The Guardian, as well as many Jeremy Corbyn-supporting blogs and websites including The Canary, Skwawkbox and Novara Media, and many individuals on social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter.

10. All these allegations as described in paragraph 8 are false and the Labour Party unreservedly withdraws those allegations and is profoundly sorry for the distress caused by their publication and republication.

11. The Labour Party accepts those allegations made on behalf of the Labour Party are untrue and defamatory.

12.  The Labour Party is here today to set the record straight and to apologise unreservedly to the Claimants for the distress and embarrassment that the publication of the false allegations have caused them and for the continuing damage that has been caused to their reputations. The Labour Party also has agreed to pay substantial damages to the Whistleblowers.

13. For the avoidance of any doubt, the parties agree and acknowledge that this statement and the agreement reached between the parties has no impact or in any way binds the independent panel of investigation being conducted under the chair of Martin Forde QC; is not intended to have any impact or effect on the Investigation of the EHRC into the conduct of the Labour Party or the acceptance of any conclusions and/or recommendations each may make; and is not intended to give rise to any adverse inferences against any individuals.

Solicitor/Counsel for the Defendant

14. My Lord, on behalf of the Labour Party, I accept all that my learned friend Mr XXXXXX has said.

15. The Labour Party acknowledges that these claims about the Claimants are untrue, and we retract and withdraw them and undertake not to repeat them.

16. The Labour Party is here today to publicly set the record straight, and to apologise to the Claimants for the distress and embarrassment that it has caused them. 

Counsel for the Claimant

17. In these circumstances, the Claimants are prepared to let the matter rest against the Labour Party. My Lord, it remains only for me to ask for leave that the record be withdrawn.

XXXXX YYYYY

5RB

Counsel for the Claimant

XXXXX YYYY

Counsel for the Defendant