POLITICS
14/04/2020 15:24 BST | Updated 14/04/2020 16:03 BST

Labour Chiefs Hunt Source Of Leaked Anti-Semitism Report As Data Watchdog Called In

Jennie Formby issues warning to staff and announces internal investigation.

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General Secretary of the Labour Party Jennie Formby 

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Labour chiefs are hunting down the source of a leaked report on anti-Semitism that named a string of party officials and complainants. 

An internal memo by general secretary Jennie Formby, seen by HuffPost UK, warned all staff that leaking documents was “completely unacceptable” amid fears the latest incident constitutes a serious data breach. 

The party has reported itself to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), Formby confirmed, and launched an internal probe after the dossier was leaked to Sky News last week.  

That is in addition to the external investigation announced by Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner, leader and deputy leader respectively, on Monday. 

Formby said the party is expected to send the result of the internal investigation to the government department. The ICO oversees how public bodies deal with data security and breaches. 

The anti-Semitism report, compiled in the dying days of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, makes a long list of claims about staff allegedly working to undermine the leadership – and has reopened old wounds over infighting. 

It claimed “factional opposition” among senior staff contributed to “a litany of mistakes” over Labour’s handling of the anti-Semitism crisis. 

The report was unredacted and published in its entirety, meaning details of several Jewish Labour Party members who lodged complaints with the organisation were made public.

It also named several Labour Party staff members and included extensive transcripts of private WhatsApp group messages exchanged between them. 

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Former Labour leadeJeremy Corbyn

Formby’s email reads: “You will have seen that there was a confidential report leaked over the weekend. It is unacceptable for any internal document to be put into the public arena, and in particular in unredacted form.” 

It adds: “The Labour Party takes its data protection responsibilities extremely seriously and have reported this matter to the Information Commissioner, in line with our statutory obligations.

“We will be reporting to the ICO again once our investigation is complete. In addition we have already commenced an internal investigation into the leak, and the leader and deputy leader have also announced an external investigation both into the leak and into the content of the report.”  

A spokesperson for the data watchdog also confirmed it was probing the matter. 

They said: “We are aware of a potential data incident relating to a Labour Party report and we are making enquiries.”

It comes as the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) continues its investigation into anti-Semitism in the party. 

The report was originally intended for inclusion in the party’s submission to the EHRC, but lawyers advised against it, reportedly saying it would damage the party’s broader case. 

It claimed to have found “no evidence” of anti-Semitism complaints being handled differently from other forms of complaint, or of staff being “motivated by anti-Semitic intent”.

The dossier was compiled after its authors went through 10,000 emails, along with thousands of communications between officials. It singled out for criticism whistleblowers who gave evidence to last year’s BBC Panorama investigation on anti-Semitism within Labour.

Those include the former general secretary Lord McNicol and Sam Matthews, the former acting head of the governance and legal unit.

The Labour Party declined to comment further.