The campaign by the Murdoch press to destabilise the Labour leadership, which has already included totally fictitious claims about Jeremy Corbyn’s health, has now moved to a new area of creativity - the idea that the Labour leader isn’t really a leader at all. Added to this hokum is a further series of claims asserting that former Party employees have been busy tearing up non-disclosure agreements.
Thus the presentation of those people as noble and principled whistleblowers. And after the Sunday Times headline claim “Civil war rips apart ‘captive’ Corbyn’s team”, readers are told “The crisis comes as Labour last night went to war with the BBC, accusing the Corporation of ‘bias’ as it prepares to broadcast fresh claims about the leadership’s handling of anti-Semitism in the party”. And there was more.
“Up to half a dozen former Labour staff [the eagle-eyed amongst you will see that this includes the number Zero] have torn up gagging agreements imposed on them by the Party to speak to a Panorama programme, to be broadcast on Wednesday. Labour is set to sue former staff for blowing the whistle”. And the evidence for this claim?
Ah well. This is where it gets interesting. Gabriel Pogrund, one of those whose name appears on the by-line of today’s alleged story, has Tweeted “Labour has launched a crackdown on whistleblowers ahead of bombshell BBC Panorama doc on antisemitism. Carter Ruck, their lawyers, have written to Sam Matthews, ex head of investigations, saying the party ‘will not tolerate’ ex employees ‘wantonly disregarding’ NDAs”.
Attached to Pogrund’s Tweet is a copy of a letter from Carter, Ruck to Matthews. But here a series of problems enter, the first of which is that the letter does not contain the phrase “Non-disclosure agreement” or the acronym NDA. Not once.
Moreover, while Pogrund clearly intends this letter to be linked to whistleblowing and the upcoming Panorama programme, the date on which it was sent has been redacted. Worse, it refers to Matthews’ alleged leaking of confidential information, which has nothing to do with whistleblowing or anti-Semitism, back in March.
Yet worse is this paragraph from the letter: “To be clear, were it to be the case that you had, or have, genuine and material concerns about any matter to which you were privy during your employment by the Party - and, most obviously, with regards to allegations of anti-Semitism - then, if you felt unable to report them via the relevant mechanisms within the Party, you would have been and remain fully entitled to report those concerns to the relevant external authorities. Such reports would in any event be likely to amount to protected disclosures which neither your former contract of employment of the Agreement would have sought to prevent [my emphases]”.
That is not a gagging order. It explicitly asserts Matthews’ right to whistleblowing. And it does not mention the Panorama programme once. Because that letter is nothing to do with it. It’s about Matthews leaking to the press last March.
Once again, a supposed Sunday Times “exclusive” turns out to be built on sand. One can only wonder how many more of today’s claims are similarly constructed. One for the bin.
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