Five former Labour party staff members have denied leaking a report that found “factional opposition” to Jeremy Corbyn hindered effective tackling of antisemitism in the party.
The quintet, including Mr Corbyn’s former director of communications Seumas Milne and former chief of staff Karie Murphy, said they would “vigorously defend themselves” in a High Court action.
Labour has filed papers accusing Mr Milne, Ms Murphy along with communications team member Georgie Robertson, former head of complaints Laura Murray and staffer Harry Hayball, of having responsibility for leaking the April 2020 report, according to their lawyers Carter-Ruck.
The report claimed to have found “no evidence” of antisemitism complaints being handled differently to other forms of complaint during Mr Corbyn’s tenure, or of current or former staff being “motivated by antisemitic intent”.
His time as leader of the opposition was marred by complaints of racism against Jews and accusations senior officials were slow to crack down on members who promoted antisemitism.
But the report found bias against the Islington North MP contributed to “a litany of mistakes” that hindered the effective handling of the issue.
In a statement issued by lawyers for the five, they said: “The individuals entirely reject these baseless claims. They did not leak the report. They fully cooperated with the party’s investigation by an independent external investigator, and with the inquiry led by Martin Forde QC.
“They understand that neither of those investigations concluded that they were responsible.
“The party has already acknowledged in court that it cannot be certain who leaked the report and that its ‘case’ against them is circumstantial. But it is now trying to make them foot the bill for legal action brought against it.
“The party should be focussing on the deeply troubling evidence contained with the leaked report, rather than trying to wrongly scapegoat and victimise former staff who documented it, and who have not been accused by either of the independent investigations.”