Labour drops legal claims against Jeremy Corbyn-era staff

Labour has dropped its legal claims against five former staff members who denied leaking an internal report about antisemitism in the party.

The quintet, including ex-leader Jeremy Corbyn’s former director of communications Seumas Milne and former chief of staff Karie Murphy, had previously said they would “vigorously defend themselves” in a High Court action.

An 860-page report on Labour’s governance and legal unit, which found “no evidence” of antisemitism being handled differently from other complaints, was leaked in April 2020.

General Election 2017 aftermath
Jeremy Corbyn with Karie Murphy in 2017 (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The legal action is estimated to have cost Labour millions of pounds and prompted criticism from some, who suggested the money could have been spent on General Election campaigning.

A statement from Labour and Carter-Ruck, the lawyers representing the former staff members, said: “The party is discontinuing its legal claims against Karie Murphy, Seumas Milne, Georgie Robertson, Harry Hayball and Laura Murray on a ‘no order as to costs’ basis.

“The five welcome the resolution of the claims.”

One former Labour MP said: “This is a huge embarrassment for the party.

“It has wasted eye-watering sums which could have made the difference in key seats in this election.”

The Forde Report, which was published in 2022, investigated both the contents of the leaked report as well as the circumstances in which this was prepared and put into the public domain.

It said it “could not identify the source of the leak”, although acknowledged its inquiries were “incomplete” as there were further interviews they wished to carry out and further documents they would have liked to have examined.

Martin Forde KC, the report’s author, said: “It is a great shame that money has been spent on legal fees that could have been spent on the General Election.”

A spokesperson for the Momentum campaign group, which was set up to support Mr Corbyn’s Labour leadership, said: “What a gigantic waste of members’ money from Starmer’s Labour.

“Millions of pounds that could have been spent on campaigning in key seats have instead been poured down the drain, all driven by factional obsession.”

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