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Labour faces libel claims from 21 people over leaked anti-Semitism report

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer delivering a statement from his office in the House of Commons in central London - Credit: PA

A former senior Labour staffer is one of 21 people suing the party for libel over a leaked internal report into the handling of allegations of anti-Semitism.

An 860-page report on Labour’s governance and legal unit, which found “no evidence” of anti-Semitism being handled differently from other complaints, was leaked in April last year.

The internal investigation carried out in the final months of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership concluded that “factional opposition” towards the former leader contributed to “a litany of mistakes” hindering efforts to tackle the crisis.

Emilie Oldknow – Labour’s former director of governance, who is also married to shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth – took legal action against the party in February to force the party to reveal “the identity or identities of those responsible” for the leak.

Her application was refused by a High Court judge, who heard Labour had reached “a clear view as to who was responsible for the leak” but did not want to give its “subjective opinion on who is legally liable” for it.

Oldknow and 20 other unnamed individuals filed claims against Labour on Wednesday, according to a publicly available register of High Court claims.

The PA news agency understands that the claims are for libel, as well as for alleged misuse of private information and alleged breach of data protection laws.

The claimants’ solicitor Mark Lewis, from the firm Patron Law, said in a statement: “I can confirm that proceedings have been issued by 21 people in respect of the ‘leaked report’.

“I do not propose to make any further comment at this time, save to say that an application has also been made to the Court of Appeal for permission to appeal the decision refusing to give the identities of those that Labour say leaked the report.”

At the hearing last month, Oldknow’s lawyers said the leaked report was a “politically motivated hatchet job”, which sought to blame her and others for Labour’s “failure” to deal with allegations of anti-Semitism.

William Bennett QC said in written submissions that the leaked report contained “inherently serious allegations of wrongdoing”, which he argued “have caused and are likely to cause serious harm to Ms Oldknow’s reputation”.