Fully half the allegations of antisemitism submitted to the Labour Party during 2019 came from one person - who submitted a huge raft of 'poorly evidenced' complaints, the majority of which did not even relate to party members, and was persistently abusive to party staff.
The leaked report by the party's Governance and Legal Unit (GLU), reveals that without this individual's actions, the number of complaints over the year would have halved instead of increasing - lending considerable weight to the widely held view than a large number of vexatious and unfounded allegations were made with the intent of artificially boosting the figures to make it appear that Labour had a worse problem than it did in reality.
And far from 'fighting antisemitism, the behaviour of this person instead served to clog up, overload, and slow down the internal processes designed to address the issue, leading to delays in the investigation of genuine complaints.
The report does not identify the 'serial complainant', but after initially using 'individual' and 'person', also refers to 'his' complaints and activities.
The following is an excerpt from the report, with names of those accused by the complainant redacted where they appear. Highlights/Bold text added by the Prole Star
6.8.4. Abuse from complainants
In 2019, half of all antisemitism complaints, and a third of all antisemitism cases, came from one individual.
This person’s complaints are typically poorly evidenced and submitted in a format that hinders investigation. This individual repeatedly emails about the same cases, cluttering the Complaints inbox and taking staff time, as staff always have to check whether a case already exists or not, and whether or not all the evidence the complainant is providing has already been logged.
A large proportion of the people this individual complains about are either not Party members or are already in the disciplinary process, something the complainant has been told repeatedly.
The complainant is often rude and abusive in their replies to staff responding to his complaints. The Party is also aware that the complainant uses similar language towards people, including Labour members, on social media.
As a good employer and the Party of workers’ rights, the Labour Party operates a
“Dignity at Work” policy which maintains that all staff must be able to carry out their work without experiencing abuse or harassment. This same complainant regularly emails targeting one staff member in GLU and making unfounded and offensive allegations about this staff member’s character.
This not only has an impact on this staff member’s working environment, but can also have an impact on the wider team, who regularly read such comments about their colleague and feel anxious that this individual may send emails making similar comments about them and other staff in the team in future.
However, GLU staff have nevertheless invested considerable resources in ensuring that all this complainant’s complaints are logged and investigated. Staff consider all complaints of antisemitism that have been raised with the party, even when the complainant is not a Party member or uses abusive language themselves.
6.8.4.i. Quality of complaints
The quality of the complaints submitted by this same individual - almost always
screenshots of streams of Facebook posts, without identifying which comments are being complained about and why - are often poor quality.
The complainant often has no knowledge or evidence that the individual is a party
member and rarely provides any evidence pertaining to their location, details that are essential for identifying a member. When compared to complaints submitted by others, this person’s complaints are sparse in detail, and result in staff spending much longer trying to identify individuals as Labour members than normal.
In addition, this complainant appears to have a poor understanding of antisemitism, and what kinds of conduct the party can act on. For example, they regularly submit complaints about people sharing Jewish-related articles, with the comment “They’re not Jewish”. However, it is not antisemitic to, for example, simply share a Guardian letter in which Jewish people express support for Corbyn, regardless of whether one is Jewish or not.
In addition, the complainant does not use search features on social media, and
instead scrolls down to periods of time he has identified as involving large amounts of discussion about antisemitism, most notably autumn 2018 during the IHRA controversy. This results in extensive screenshots of, for example, members simply supporting the Code of Conduct proposed, but not making any antisemitic comments.
Many of the suspensions and NOIs which have been imposed on individuals following complaints from this complainant have actually been a consequence of the additional social media searches GLU staff have conducted, which have revealed much more serious evidence of antisemitism than that submitted. This demonstrates the additional investigatory work that is often required by staff following complaints, and the importance of systematic social media searches by staff on all complaints the party receives, rather than only reviewing the evidence provided by complainants.
In autumn 2019, a staff member had a long conversation with this complainant,
lasting more than forty-five minutes, in which they attempted to assure them that
their complaints were all being investigated, and urged them to comply with requests to submit complaints in the required format. The staff member also explained that many of the screenshots they submitted did not constitute a breach of the rules, and recommended that they should instead use search terms that related to antisemitic conduct, and focus on clear-cut cases.
In early February 2020 the same staff member reiterated:
"in a great many of your cases, the core case actually results from extra research – additional searches on their Facebook profiles – conducted by me and our team
here. In some cases, for example, you have submitted someone with screenshots of them sharing a few articles discussing the issue of antisemitism in Labour, including from the Guardian; but our searches have uncovered extreme antisemitism such as Holocaust denial.
As we discussed on the phone before, I would really urge you to use Facebook’s
search features when making a complaint, rather than scrolling down the person’s
timeline. The screenshots below show the process – put an antisemitism-related
term into the search bar, hit enter, then select “choose a source” under “POSTS
FROM”, and select the name of the person you are complaining about. On a phone, you can go to someone’s profile, hit the three dots on the right, and select “search profile”.
This enables you to find clearer-cut evidence about the person you are complaining about, which ensures speedier and better action.
Likewise, if you focus on clear cut cases, this will reduce bogging down of our
systems and staff time, a huge amount of which has gone into processing emails
that you send."
However, this did not result in an improvement in the quality of the complaints
submitted by this individual or the supporting evidence he provides.
In October 2019, an audit of the number of emails the complainant had sent was
conducted, and was referenced as part of the letter sent to them that month:
"We have done a brief audit of your recent complaints to us between the 7th October and 16th October. During that period, you have emailed us a total of 92 times. 55 of the emails sent by you were following us having already told you that your complaints had been logged and were being dealt with. We responded to you 44 times in that period."
In total, the Party has received 2,083 emails from this complainant. His emails have resulted in 451 complaints being logged, comprising 22.2% of all antisemitism cases the Party has logged since spring 2018.
The disparity between the number of emails this complainant sends and the number of complaints logged is due to duplicate complaints, complaints about people who are not Labour members and the responses the complainant sends to GLU’s replies to their complaints. Duplication of complaints result in a great deal of staff time being misspent, the time spent checking if an individual has been complained about before is much the same as logging a completely new complaint.
The complainant has been advised of this, but frequently complains about individuals numerous times. For example, he complained about Maureen Anne Fitzsimmons 29 times. These complaints continue to be made, with clear frustration from the complainant, despite the party being clear and consistent that we cannot give updates on cases to third party complainants. Once a third party complainant has received feedback that their case has been logged they will not receive any more information about the progress of the case. The complainant has been told this a multitude of times yet still continues to repeat complaints they feel are not being dealt with properly.
The volume of this complainant’s emails, and the amount of the time it takes to
identify the individuals in their complaints, results in a disproportionate amount of
staff time being spent on poor quality complaints that frequently result in no action
being taken because the individuals were not members or were unverifiable. Staff
time is then spent continuing to reply to repeat complaints instead of dealing with
new complaints from other complainants. Staff subsequently had to inform the
complainant that they would not be able to reply to each of his emails and repeat
complaints because of the pressure this places on staff time, resulting in a diversion of GLU resources, but that they would continue to log and investigate each of his new complaints and any new evidence he provides in relation to ongoing cases.
Currently, half of all antisemitism complaints the Labour Party receives come from
one individual, who is trawling social media for evidence. This illustrates how the
development of the antisemitism issue in Labour is so integrally related to social
media, and the ability to document people’s views in ways that simply were not
possible, or understood, a few years ago.
It also underlines the challenge in assigning appropriate staffing to this issue. If this complainant had not started submitting complaints in late 2018, then the number of complaints received in 2019 would have halved. If another complainant starts doing this, the number of complaints could again double.
Above all, the manner in which the Party has addressed this complainant complaints, and handled this individual as a complainant, demonstrates the Party’s sincere commitment to addressing all complaints, and staff’s absolute clarity that there is no place for antisemitism in the Labour Party. In 2017 GLU seem to have dismissed well-evidenced complaints from LAAS as “spam”, without any particularly good cause, and simply not processed them. Throughout 2019, by contrast, the GLU team has invested considerable resources in not just processing, but also further investigating, complaints from an individual who is highly abusive towards Party staff and Party members and submits large numbers of poorly formatted and poorly evidenced complaints.
The Party’s approach to this issue directly contradicts any suggestion that the Party is not treating complaints of antisemitism seriously.
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