Jeremy Corbyn: Setback for ex-party leader in Labour suspension fight

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Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has suffered a setback in his legal battle over his suspension from the party.

Mr Corbyn lost a bid to force Labour to disclose documents, including minutes of meetings between his allies and his successor, Sir Keir Starmer.

But a judge ruled that Mr Corbyn already had "sufficient material".

In response, Labour said it looked forward to "drawing a line under the matter" but Mr Corbyn is still expected to pursue further legal action.

The Islington North MP was originally suspended from Labour in November when he suggested the scale of anti-Semitism in the party had been "dramatically overstated" by his opponents.

He was later readmitted to the party after he said concerns about anti-Semitism, laid bare in a highly critical report by the equalities watchdog, were neither "exaggerated nor overstated".

However, Sir Keir said his predecessor would not be able to return as a Labour MP and would continue to have to sit as an independent in the Commons.

'Political interference'

Earlier this month, Mr Corbyn's legal team made an application to the High Court for "pre-action disclosure" of minutes of a meeting on 3 November between his representatives - including Unite general secretary Len McCluskey - and Sir Keir, his chief of staff Morgan McSweeney and Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner.

Lawyers allege that an agreement was reached at that meeting which would see Mr Corbyn reinstated as a Labour MP, with no further sanctions.

Mr Corbyn's barrister Christopher Jacobs claimed Labour went back on the agreement as a result of "political interference".

image captionUnite's Len McCluskey represented Mr Corbyn at a meeting with the Labour party leadership

He argued that Mr Corbyn's suspension was unlawful and in breach of contract.

Mr Corbyn's legal team also asked for minutes of a Zoom meeting on 12 November between the two sides, as well as any communications between Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge or Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, and Sir Keir.

Labour's lawyer denied such documents exist - or that an agreement had been reached between the Labour leader's office and Mr Corbyn.

'Sufficient material'

In a ruling, Judge Lisa Sullivan dismissed the application for disclosure of the documents.

She said Mr Corbyn had "sufficient material to make a decision on the merits of his case".

"I cannot say that there is a real prospect that disclosure would resolve or reduce the issues - that dispute is likely to remain after disclosure," she said.

A Labour Party spokesman said: "We welcome the court's decision. The Labour Party has always acted in line with our rules and procedures.

"It is regrettable that the court's time and our members' money was spent on this matter.

"We look forward to drawing a line under this matter and uniting our party ahead of a vital set of elections."

The party is expected to try to to recover its costs from Mr Corbyn for the legal expenses that it has incurred as a result of the application.

But this was just the first stage in Mr Corbyn's legal challenge against the Labour Party and it is understood he is expected to continue to pursue his High Court case.

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