THE Labour Party could be plunged into financial ruin with more than a dozen people preparing to take legal action against the opposition after they were named in a bombshell 860-page report.
Claims that could be submitted to the Labour Party as soon as next week include those covering the Data Protection Act, invasion of privacy and libel, The Guardian has reported. The party, individuals and some media commentators are all reported to be the subject of legal complaints as a result of the document’s release and remarks made about its contents. The document, which threatens to blow Labour apart, claimed factional hostility towards former leader Jeremy Corbyn contributed to the party’s handling of widespread ant-Semitism complaints, which subsequently heavily undermined its disastrous general election campaign.
The report also includes direct criticisms of the party and some of its leading figures by staff members in private messages.
But since the release of the report, a number of people mentioned in the document have reportedly contacted lawyers, with each said to be considering several different legal claims.
If the claims go further and should Labour lose in court or opt to settle, the party could face a huge legal bill.
Any negative outcome would also blow a massive hole in Sir Keir Starmer‘s hopes of uniting Labour, which has been the subject of fierce infighting over recent years.
Labour’s former Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, who also stepped down earlier this month, has said the report was commissioned by General Secretary Jennie Formby and put together’s by the party’s governance and legal sector.
The huge dossier was supposed to have been submitted to the investigation by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission antisemitism sweeping through Labour, but that attempted move was blocked by the party’s lawyers.
Mark Lewis, a lawyer who has been contacted by those seeking legal action, told the Observer he has been contacted by 15 people, adding “each one of them could well have several claims”.
He said: “There are lots and lots of claims. There are claims under the Data Protection Act, there are claims for breach of confidence or invasion of privacy and there are claims for libel. It is a very lengthy report that mentions a lot of people.
“Ive been contacted by 15 people. Each one of them could well have several claims.
“What is going on is phenomenal. Its a bit like the soldiers leaving a barracks that they have to desert and setting it on fire.
Mr Lewis added: “For four years, people in Labour have said there is no antisemitism in the party, its just a smear. Now they say that of course there was antisemitism, but it just wasnt us.
“They have not noticed the absurdity of their change of position. There are actions against the party, actions against individuals, actions against commentators.
“People need to be careful about statements that have been made. If this bankrupts the Labour Party or individuals, so be it. Actions have consequences.”
A person considering legal action, speaking anonymously, said: “Several of us are already in detailed conversations with a number of legal teams. The Labour party had made serious allegations about our behaviour.
“These allegations were never put to us and not a single one of us did anything other than to work towards the best possible result in the 2017 election.
“Many of us are now being subjected to horrendous online abuse directly as a consequence.”
The inquiry into the report has been ordered by new leader Sir Keir and his deputy Angela Rayner.
General Secretary Ms Formby has told Labour Party staffers this will investigate how it was commissioned, the culture it reveals and who leaked it.
Local party branches are also under strict instructions not to share the document.
Any negative legal outcome for Labour would be a huge blow to Sir Keir’s plan to reunite the party and potentially threaten its future with financial disaster.
The opposition was humiliated in December’s general election, suffering a crushing defeat to Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party and handing the Prime Minister the majority required to push his Brexit deal through Parliament.
Labour also lost dozens of seats throughout the country, some of which it had held for several decades.[contfnewc]