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Panorama reporter John Ware is taking legal action against former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, his lawyer has confirmed.
The move follows Corbyn’s statement on Wednesday that Labour agreeing to settle the Panorama case “risks giving credibility to misleading and inaccurate allegations” about action to tackle anti-Semitism in the party.
Asked if action would be taken arising from Corbyn’s statement after the hearing, lawyer Mark Lewis from Patron Law – who represented the Panorama whistleblowers and Ware – said: “I can confirm that I have been instructed to pursue cases.”
It is not yet known who else might be involved in bringing the possible libel action.
Labour announced today it will pay “substantial damages” to whistleblowers who contributed to the Panorama expose of the party’s handling of anti-Semitism.
It also issued an unreserved apology over “defamatory and false allegations” made following the investigation.
Corbyn said it was “disappointing” that his party had settled the claim, adding that it was a “political decision, not a legal one”.
It is the latest sign of Keir Starmer’s attempts to draw a clear distinction between the party he leads and the one over which Corbyn presided.
Seven former employees from the party’s governance and legal unit, who were responsible for the investigation of allegations of misconduct by party members, sued Labour after it issued a press release describing them as having “personal and political axes to grind”.
The legal action followed the broadcast in a July 2019 edition of the programme titled “Is Labour Anti-Semitic?”.
Katherine Buckingham, Michael Creighton, Samuel Matthews, Daniel Hogan, Louise Withers Green, Martha Robinson and Benjamin Westerman all had concerns there was “a lack of commitment” by Labour to properly investigate anti-Semitism within the party, the High Court heard on Wednesday.
At the same hearing, Labour also apologised to Ware – the journalist who made the programme – for falsely accusing him of “deliberate and malicious misrepresentations designed to mislead the public”.
The party agreed to pay “substantial damages” to the journalist.
Labour has declined to reveal the payout amount given as part of the settlement.
When asked about speculation that it amounted to as much as £500,000, Starmer’s spokesperson told reporters: “There’s no point [in asking] because I’m not going to get into the figures or even speculate.”
Labour’s handling of anti-Semitism allegations under Corbyn’s leadership is the subject of an inquiry by the Equality and Human Rights Commission – and Starmer has already received a draft report from the watchdog.
The party said that under Starmer and deputy leader Angela Rayner, Labour was “committed to tackling anti-Semitism”.