NEWS
07/08/2020 14:24 BST | Updated 07/08/2020 14:58 BST

Diane Abbott Calls For Publication Of Full Labour WhatsApp Logs Over Racism Claims

Labour staffers made disparaging remarks about the Hackney MP in a series of private WhatsApp conversations.

Diane Abbott has called for the leaked Labour report that sparked allegations of anti-Black racism to be published in full.

It comes after The Guardian on Friday revealed that party staff members named in the report had told an inquiry the document misused private messages, portraying them as racist and sexist – something which they deny.

The Hackney MP tweeted in response: “Officials at the very top of @UKabour said stuff like ‘Abbott is truly repulsive’, ‘Abbott literally makes me sick’ and conspired with media against me. Now claiming remarks taken out of context. So let’s have full publication of all communications #LabourLeaks”.

It has also been confirmed that officials accused in the report of insulting pro-Corbyn colleagues in WhatsApp chats are seeking damages from the party for misuse of data and libel, among other complaints.

The 860-page report was leaked in April, while Jeremy Corbyn was leader of the Labour Party, and was to be part of the party’s submission to an ongoing investigation by the Equality and Human Rights

The document, which contained private WhatsApp conversations, includes claims of a “litany of mistakes, deficiencies, and missed opportunities” to adequately address anti-Semitism within the party.

However, contents of the report also fuelled concerns of Afriphobia, or anti-Black racism, in the party. 

Party officials used a number of insults in private conversations to describe senior Black MPs and officials including Diane AbbottDawn Butler and Clive Lewis.

New Labour leader Keir Starmer set up an inquiry led by Martin Forde QC to investigate the contents of the report and how it was leaked.

In June, HuffPost UK revealed that scores of Black voters were leaving the Labour as a result of these concerns about racism in the party – and Abbott’s treatment specifically.

Fo example, Naz Hamdi said she “feels no desire” to vote Labour in another election. This is owing, in part, to what she describes as poor treatment of Abbott.

“I think Diane has been treated appallingly during her time as MP,” she said. “It has been constant character assassination. [...] Her colleagues should’ve done a better job in safeguarding her, but instead they were doing everything they could to undermine her.”

DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS via Getty Images
Diane Abbott.

Labour told HuffPost UK at the time that it was “committed to challenging and campaigning against racism, within the party and the country”.

“The content and the release of the report into the public domain raise a number of matters of serious concern,” said a spokesperson. “That is why Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner swiftly launched an urgent independent investigation into this matter.

“The National Executive Committee agreed the terms of reference for the independent investigation into the contents, circumstances and release of this internal report, and appointed Martin Forde QC to lead the investigation. It would not be appropriate to comment further until the independent investigation has concluded.”

The party also said the leader and deputy leader had met with the BAME staff network and “committed to improving representation, progression and culture in the workplace”.