Labour wins High Court appeal over new members voting in leadership election

Jeremy Corbyn's campaign team says the Court of Appeal ruling is 'the wrong decision - both legally and democratically'

Lizzie Dearden,Katie Forster
Friday 12 August 2016 16:28
Comments
Jeremy Corbyn debates with Owen Smith in front of an audience of party members at the second Labour leadership debate
Jeremy Corbyn debates with Owen Smith in front of an audience of party members at the second Labour leadership debate

Labour's ruling body has won its challenge against a High Court decision allowing new party members to vote in the upcoming leadership election.

The Court of Appeal’s ruling is a blow to Jeremy Corbyn’s battle to remain the Labour leader as the majority of those joining the party are expected to support him over rival Owen Smith.

Reacting to the decision, Jeremy Corbyn's campaign team said the Court of Appeal ruling was “the wrong decision - both legally and democratically”.

Party officials were successful in their attempt to reinstate Labour's National Executive Committee (NEC) block on 130,000 members receiving ballots.

It banned anyone who joined the party after 12 January from voting unless they paid an extra £25.

But five of those affected had challenged the move and accused the NEC of unlawfully “freezing” them out of the leadership contest despite them having “paid their dues”.

Representatives of the NEC said the move was permitted by the party's rulebook, citing several sections in the Court of Appeal.

The Court of Appeal refused Corbyn supporters permission to appeal the ruling and ordered the five new Labour members to pay the latest appeal costs, which amount to £30,000, in 28 days.

Lawyers for the five - Christine Evangelou, the Rev Edward Leir, Hannah Fordham, Chris Granger and “FM”, a teenage member - had argued the NEC had no power under the rules to retrospectively freeze a full member's ability to vote in leadership elections.

They say approximately 150,000 individuals joined the party between January 12 and July 12 and their ability to vote is at stake.

Mr Justice Hickinbottom declared on Monday that refusing them the right to vote would amount to a breach of contract.

Mr Corbyn's allies had urged the party not to appeal against the ruling, stating that members' money should not be used to try to stop them from voting.

John McDonnell, the shadow Chancellor, rejected the idea that allies of Mr Corbyn support the ruling only because it could benefit the incumbent.

He argued when people joined they were told “very clearly” they would be able to vote in the leadership contest and “to deny them that democratic right flies against all the traditions of our party”.

Jeremy Corbyn gets the crowd pumped in Sunderland

Last night, Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith argued over Brexit at a very bad tempered leadership hustings in Gateshead, that was briefly interrupted when the lights went out.

Mr Smith, who was scarcely able to answer a question throughout the ninety minute event without being booed by Mr Corbyn’s supporters, accused the Labour leader of being “10 out of 10” for leaving the European Union.

“Jeremy himself admitted he was seven out of 10 in terms of his faith in the European Union. He said it,” Mr Smith said.

Ballot papers are currently due to be sent out on 22 August and returned a month later, with the result being announced at a special Labour conference on 24 September.

The row has deepened already serious divisions within the opposition party, following months of allegations of a “coup” against Mr Corbyn from Labour MPs that sparked the election.

Mr McDonnell accused a “small clique” of anti-Corbyn Labour members of appealing the High Court’s decision, while Labour general secretary Iain McNicol was expected to be ousted if the party case was lost.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in