Seven of the eight whistle-blowers – all former Labor staff – who appeared in the documentary, tasked prominent media lawyer Mark Lewis to take action against the party.
They claimed that senior figures had issued statements that damaged their reputation and suggested that they had later political and personal motives to undermine the party.
Among the former Labor staff who act, there is former head of conflict Sam Matthews; former chief compliance officer Mike Creighton; Dan Hogan, former investigator for the dispute team; and Louise Withers Green, former Disputes Officer. Iain McNicol, the former secretary general who was the eighth interviewee on the program, is not involved in the action.
the The Panorama Is Labor Anti-Semitic? Program, which was screened in July of last year, made a number of serious allegations about the party’s internal culture for dealing with complaints of anti-Semitism.
In a statement during the broadcast, a Labor spokesperson called them “disgruntled former officials” and said that they had “worked actively to undermine” Corbyn and had “personal and policies to shred ”.
Corbyn and Momentum founder Jon Lansman also suggested in program statements that he had a predetermined outcome.
It is understood that an official apology has been requested from the party, to be read at a public hearing. The Labor party declined to comment.
Labor party to settle separate case with veteran journalist John Ware, who led the Panorama investigation and followed up on a Labor party statement that the BBC had engaged in “willful and malicious representations intended to induce public in error ”in its broadcast.
Ofcom dismissed 28 complaints against the program on alleged bias, concluding that it was “duly impartial” and including the Labor Party’s response prominently displayed throughout.
Starmer’s workers seem keen to reach agreements to end the ongoing conflicts over the party’s anti-Semitic crisis.
Any excuse will prove controversial among Corbyn’s followers, who wonder if settling it is a good use of party funds. The Guardian understands that the legal advice provided to Labor under Corbyn’s leadership suggested that the party could win the case.
A former member of his ruling national executive, who supported Corbyn, said, “It was clear advice: we were told that the Labor party would win the Panorama case. Then Keir entered and he seems to have decided to settle. If the legal advice has changed, it should be shared with the NEC, and they should be allowed to ask if it is a good use of a large sum of money. ”
Some whistleblowers were named this year in a leaked internal report that revealed what he called a “hyper-factional” environment, in which hostility to Corbyn’s management hampered the smooth running of complaint procedures. The leakage of this report and its contents is subject to an independent review chaired by QC Martin Ford.
Starmer’s dismissal of former ruling rival and party leader Rebecca Long-Bailey last month after retweeting an article containing what a party spokesperson called “anti-Semitic conspiracy theory” has rekindled divisions on the issue. Corbyn was among the MPs who asked to meet with Starmer the next day to protest the dismissal of Long-Bailey.
Meanwhile, Labor MPs await the findings of the Commission for Equality and Human Rights (EHRC) investigation into allegations of institutional anti-Semitism. The party revealed this week that it had received a draft report.
Many key people involved during the period of investigation, including former Secretary General Jenny Formby, Corbyn’s chief of staff, Karie Murphy, complaints manager, Thomas Gardiner, and director of communications, Seumas Milne, have since moved. “Really, all the crucial people are gone,” said an insider.
A person familiar with the content of the EHRC report said that it was “not a fatal blow” for any of those involved, and his conclusions have been carefully drafted in “legal jargon”. Labor party insiders expect him to focus on the failures of the party as a whole, rather than indicting individuals for specific decisions.
The Guardian understands that several individuals who had been warned to expect extracts from the report – suggesting that they were personally criticized – have not yet received them.
Starmer and his deputy, Angela Rayner, both declared publicly that they would accept the conclusions of the ECHR; but Labor’s lawyers nevertheless examined the draft report in detail.
In a statement after receiving the report, to which the party has 28 days to respond, a spokesperson said the party was determined to fully implement the commission’s recommendations.
“Anti-Semitism has stained the Labor Party in recent years. This has caused unacceptable and unimaginable levels of grief and distress for many members of the Jewish community, as well as for staff members, “said the spokesperson.
“The fight against anti-Semitism within the Labor Party is a priority and we are determined to take the additional steps necessary to begin to restore confidence with the Jewish community.
“We are committed to fully cooperating with the commission’s investigation and to implementing its recommendations when the final report is published. We will not make any further comments. ”
The handling of complaints of anti-Semitism through work has led to a number of high-profile departures, including that of Liverpool Wavertree MP Luciana Berger, who said that management had allowed “a culture of bullying, bigotry and d ‘intimidation”.
The Labor Together report on the catastrophic results of the December general elections cited the perception that the Labor party was divided – including on anti-Semitism – as one of the factors behind its defeat.