An attempt by a former senior official from the UK Labour Party to reveal the identities of the people who leaked the party's internal antisemitism report was rejected by Britain's High Court as it could risk harm to the individuals, the Guardian reported on Monday.
The request to reveal the names was filed by former senior Labour staffer Emilie Oldknow, who has been ordered to pay the Labour Party's legal fees.
The judge ruled that the request "smacks of a fishing expedition, so that the claimant can cast around to identify potential defendants” to sue and that there was "a real risk that the order sought by the claimant… will release the names of innocent persons," according to the newspaper.
Oldknow's lawyer stated that the party had kept her "unjustly in the dark" about its conclusions from its investigation into the leak of the internal report. The judge replied that while Labour's investigation had identified probable suspects, there are two other ongoing investigations into the matter which could unearth new information.
“In my view, if the Labour Party is required to identify individuals… It will be doing no more than identifying a list of who it reasonably believes are to be the culprits,” said the judge, according to the Guardian. “There is therefore no certainty that the information sought will lead to the identification of the wrongdoer or wrongdoers.”The release of the names would lead to “a very real potential to cause harm to any innocent persons as they will then find themselves threatened with legal proceedings, which they will then have to defend,” added the judge.
In the 860-page leaked internal report about antisemitism in Labour compiled under former party leader Jeremy Corbyn, the British party said it had “no evidence” of biased handling of complaints or staff “motivated by antisemitic intent.”
The document, which was obtained by Sky News, is an extension of the party line under Corbyn, where it acknowledged certain errors in handling complaints about antisemitism but rejected allegations that Labour was institutionally antisemitic, as Corbyn’s critics from the Jewish community and beyond have claimed.
There was a lack of “robust processes, systems, training, education and effective line management,” according to the leaked report, and “abundant evidence of a hyper-factional atmosphere prevailing in Party HQ” toward Corbyn that “affected the expeditious and resolute handling of disciplinary complaints.”
The report was intended to be submitted as an annex to an inquiry by Britain's Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) over allegations of institutional antisemitism. Following an intervention by Labour's lawyers, however, the report was never submitted.
In December, the Labour Party announced a new plan to uproot antisemitism from its ranks. The Action Plan for Driving Out Antisemitism from the Labour Party came in response to an EHRC report in October. The report determined that the party had violated equality laws in its handling of antisemitic incidents under Corbyn's the leadership.
Among the ways Labour plans to make itself more welcoming to Jews and members of other minority groups is to establish an independent investigation process for complaints of antisemitism, Islamophobia, racism, sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination.
In addition, external lawyers will be hired to advise on antisemitism hearings, and the party will also move to address backlogged antisemitism cases.
Cnaan Liphshiz/JTA, Lahav Harkov and Donna Rachel Edmunds contributed to this report.