Labour members abandon legal challenge over voting rights and will not pursue case in Supreme Court

'This has been an odd, emotional-rollercoaster of a week for all of us'

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Sunday 14 August 2016 16:59
A spokesperson for Jeremy Corbyn's campaign praised the "strength and solidarity" shown by the five Labour members
A spokesperson for Jeremy Corbyn's campaign praised the "strength and solidarity" shown by the five Labour members

Labour members who have been denied a right to vote in the forthcoming leadership contest will not challenge the judgement in the Supreme Court, it has emerged.

On Friday three Court of Appeal judges upheld an appeal by Labour’s governing body, the National Executive Committee (NEC), against a High Court ruling that 130,000 people who joined the party between January and July should get a vote in the contest.

Permission to appeal the case to the Supreme Court was denied by the Court of Appeal but an application to the UK’s highest court could have still been made. A Corbyn ally, however, told The Independent last week this was “unlikely”.

In a statement the members said: “This has been an odd, emotional-rollercoaster of a week for all of us. Thank you for supporting us through this, it’s been a huge help to see how many of you care deeply about this unfair and unjust situation."

“Unfortunately, given the costs involved in pursuing the case further (the fee for getting the case even heard at the Supreme Court is around £8,000), we have taken the decision that this where this particular legal case has to stop. But the case wasn’t in vain - although we didn’t succeed in reclaiming votes for the 130,000 disenfranchised members, we did win in the High Court, exposing facts which have spurred important conversation about the role of the Labour Party membership and the NEC,” they added.

Most of the barred members were thought likely to vote for Mr Corbyn rather than his challenger Owen Smith. However, some of the 130,000 disenfranchised members may get a vote because they also paid £25 to become registered supporters.

The Independent understands the UK's highest court was on "standy by" to hear the case and was making urgent arrangements to bring back five justices from their summer break.

A Supreme Court spokesperson added: "Decisions about proceeding with an appeal are entirely matters for the parties involved. However, the Court's usual fee regime would not have applied in this case, due to the way in which any such application would have been fast tracked. The court fees would have been closer to £1,000."

The Appeal Court also ordered the five Labour members who brought the case against the party to the High Court to pay £30,000 towards the Labour party’s legal costs. This is in addition to their own legal costs.

But a crowdfunding page set up to support the members in their legal fees - at the time of writing - had received £93,000 in donations from members of the public. Their final target is £100,000.

A spokesman for the Jeremy for Labour campaign said: “The strength of solidarity shown to the give claimants campaigning for the democratic rights of their fellow Labour party members has been truly remarkable”.

“It is clear that there exists a huge amount of support for Jeremy’s vision of a democratic Labour party that is open and inclusive for all, so that we can achieve a Labour government that can transform and rebuild

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