This Kafkaesque account of his suspension has been published by Ben Timberley on Facebook – we republish it here for all those who are not on FB and to allow easy access.
As you’ll see in the story below, suspended or expelled Labour party members face a gruelling task to prove their innocence or to provide a justifiable context to their alleged ‘crimes’. It is considered ‘normal’ by right-wing party staff and elected officials for party members to be smeared with the label of ‘suspension’ or ‘expulsion’ with all of the social stigma that these labels carry.
The ‘Kafkaesque’ process of fighting allegations that are kept secret, by accusers that are kept secret, in a process that is kept secret, with no / very little support or help from the party that members are committed to, is more at home in Guantanamo Bay than a supposedly socialist political party in the UK. It is no surprise then that tragedies have happened in the form of suicides within the party, when suspensions and expulsions are handed out without any care given to the recipients.
I have faced threats of violence from party members, I have been sworn at and told I am mentally ill by employees of a local Labour MP, I have been smeared by elected officials and party staff, and I have been consistently bullied and abused by people on the left and the right of the party. All because I couldn’t be bought, and stood up for what I believed in. The party has ignored all of this, in its efforts to smear and expel a committed socialist – simply because they cannot break me.
This is my story, written in the third person.
Me pictured in the Guardian, whilst delivering Momentum training at an ‘Unseat’ event…
DECEMBER 2015: BEN JOINS THE LABOUR PARTY
Ben joins the Labour Party, inspired by the vision of the future presented by Jeremy Corbyn, and a genuinely socialist Labour Party.
Ben joined the party whilst living down in Cambridgeshire, and saw first-hand the abuse dished out against Corbyn supporters.
APRIL 2016: BEN’S ARRIVAL IN EREWASH DERBYSHIRE
Ben moves to Derbyshire, and attempts to contribute to the right-wing dominated Erewash Constituency Labour Party. The right-wing ‘dynasty’ in charge of Erewash Labour makes it clear that he and other Corbyn supporters are not wanted.
AUGUST 4TH & 5TH 2016: BEN IS TARGETED BY THE RIGHT, FOR SUSPENSION / EXPULSION
Remember the right-wingers campaign to report all the lefties they could to the ‘validation’ email address? Even goading lefties to anger and retaliation via social media on purpose? Well, it manifested for Ben with these emails. (Sent at the same time of day, one day apart, in August.)
Email One – 4th August 2016, 12:20pm
Email two – 5th August 2016, 12:00 Noon
AUGUST 21ST 2016: EREWASH CLP RIGHT-WINGERS ATTACK!
Mix flat-out lies in with half-truths and real truths, and you can paint any picture you like. This email sent by an Erewash Labour elected official (we know who sent the email) provides evidence that they do not like Ben, and as such they decided they wanted him out of the party. Notice the date, in August again. This cluster of complaints is a strange coincidence. The numbered points below are a mixture of inane and irrelevant fact, flat-out lies, and mistakes about Ben. (Yes, Ben was a Lib Dem… one word for this: BLAIR.)
A complaint email from a member of Erewash CLP – Ben knows who this is.
SEPTEMBER 13TH 2016: BEN IS SUSPENDED BY THE LABOUR PARTY, WITHOUT EVIDENCE!
On the 13th of September 2016, Ben was suspended from the Labour Party for an alleged breach of ‘abuse’ rules during the leadership election at this time. The letter mentioned social media posts in June of 2016, but with no posts provided as evidence, or any explanation of how they were acquired.
OCTOBER 4TH 2016: EVIDENCE IS FINALLY OBTAINED
The compliance / disputes team finally sent through (after huge efforts from Ben & others) screengrabs of social media posts (none of the above complaints were mentioned) as evidence regarding the so-called abuse.
The minions of the former General Secretary strike…
THIS IS THE SORT OF POST BEN WAS SUSPENDED FOR…
This screengrab (discussing Angela Eagle MP) was the first to be included on the evidence list, and is the most telling. Crucially, Ben openly apologised for the heated tone of this post, and others.
A person further down in the conversation, is a relative of the ruling right-wing clique in Erewash, whose family are key supporters of the parliamentary candidate and party chair in Erewash CLP. This person screengrabbed this comment, and sent it in to the compliance team.
JANUARY 21ST 2017: THE FIRST HEARING WITH GORDON PATTISON & GEORGE CARR-WILLIAMSON (REGIONAL DIRECTOR & OPERATIONS DIRECTOR)
Ben finally met with the regional officers to discuss his suspension. Ben issued a letter at this meeting apologising for any offence caused by his social media postings. Gordon Pattison, the Regional Director stated “Let’s put all of this behind us, and move forwards with a clean slate.” George Carr-Williamson however is a member of Erewash CLP, and had other ideas.
JANUARY TO JULY 2017: NOTHING HAPPENS. THE SILENCE IS DEAFENING.
After the first hearing, Ben heard nothing for over six months. He spoke to Christine Shawcroft and Ann Black on the NEC, who both tried to get information about his case. Eventually, Ann Black succeeded in getting Sam Matthews, former right-wing Yvette Cooper employee and compliance team employee (now ‘Head of Disputes’ for the party), to see where the case had got to… or that’s at least what they told Ben.
20TH JUNE 2017: THE SMOKING GUN…
Whoever this email is from, they’ve looked at the evidence presented to the NEC disciplinary panel so far, and have concluded that Ben should be reinstated immediately at the next meeting. Naturally, the right wing in Erewash CLP and East Midlands Regional Office couldn’t have this…
Ben is earmarked for reinstatement to the party…
26TH JUNE 2017: GEORGE CARR-WILLIAMSON STRIKES AGAIN!
George, now the Deputy Regional Director for East Midlands Regional Labour (Promotion! Yay!) knew from someone else’s prompting that the NEC’s disciplinary panel would be meeting soon and that Ben would be reinstated. So he contacted his mates on the Erewash CLP exec committee without using his official email address, to try and get more dirt on Ben. (George is a member of Erewash CLP.) Without that, the suspension would be lifted. (We know this email is from George, as people with experience of the Erewash CLP executive committee have corroborated this email is from him.)
Informants… Welcome to the Stazi!
Using personal emails for ‘protected data’ subjects? Naughty Naughty.
*George got his promotion due to taking Emma Foody’s old position, who in turn received a promotion because Gordon Pattison the original regional director was apparently ‘quietly shuffled off’ for some reason. We can only speculate as to why a “Senior Labour Official” in the “East Midlands Region”, (a regional catchment that ranges from LEICESTERSHIRE to Derbyshire, Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire) would be quietly shuffled off. As to why this change of senior staff was kept so quiet, again, we can only speculate as to whether or not the reporting of this would ‘damage’ any person or the party in any way.*
30TH JUNE 2017: ASK AND YE SHALL RECEIVE…
Here, you can see that only a few days later someone has responded with alleged ‘evidence’ to continue the suspension. It’s not an investigation—it’s a last minute stitch-up. We know that two people in Erewash CLP responded, the Deputy Chair, and the Leader of the Council Labour Group.
“Anonymous from Ben.” Says it all really! That and it’s another unprotected email source…
JULY 12TH 2017: HAVE WE TOLD HIM HE HAS BEEN STITCHED UP AGAIN?
When Ben submitted his written apology in the first hearing for social media posts that could have upset people, the officers dealing with this case seem to have taken that as amnesty for everything before that date.
This is very important, as you’ll see later. The email below suggests that notifying Ben of the further ‘evidence’ against him was low down their list of priorities – further lengthening his suspension period.
No, you didn’t send it out. You just wanted Ben out of the party for as long as possible…
JULY 24TH 2017: AFTER A *SIX MONTH* WAIT, BEN GETS HIS FIRST COMMUNICATION!
Sam Matthews, past employee of Yvette Cooper (Former Patron of Progress) and now the ‘Head of Disputes’ told Ben his suspension would continue, and passed the buck on to the new Regional Director Emma Foody – another promotion! Foody obtained the position of Regional Director via a perceived ‘shoe-in’ perpetrated by a small sub-committee of the Labour Party NEC, in the face of many applications from capable and perfectly suitable left-wing candidates. She is also the spouse of North Nottinghamshire Labour MP Alex Norris. He is yet another figure on the right of the party opposing Corbyn’s leadership and socialist agenda.
This is unprecedented… however recently, I have heard of worse behaviour from Sam Matthews when dealing with suspensions!
JULY 25TH 2017: BEN RESPONDS, FOODY GETS OUT OF HER DEPTH.
After Sam’s email, Ben responded to ask what on earth was going on. Behind the scenes, Emma Foody shows her inexperience in her new senior position, and asks Sam Matthews for advice about how to deal with Ben.
Qualified for the job?
SAM’S RESPONSE IS POTENTIALLY EXPLOSIVE…
This practice cannot stand. Sam is purposefully and knowingly denying members justice, or any avenue of appeal. He must answer for this.
According to Sam, there is NO REQUIREMENT to tell party members what they are accused of before an official (and potentially damaging) meeting is held. 24 hours notice of what the evidence is, or what the charges are is ridiculous, and allows noone the time needed to prepare for the meeting. ‘Natural Justice’ is almost totally absent from this corrupt process.
WHAT DO WE NEED TO HAVE, TO GET RID OF THIS GUY?
This email below is one of the most concerning documents. In it, one of the party officials is seeking timestamps for ‘evidence’ presented against Ben. Once again, they refer to his apology submission date of the 21st of January as a cut-off point for his defence of ‘apology’. Why would they be interested in the timestamps of evidence?
It’s a stitch up.
*Basically, they’re implying that anything Ben has done or said AFTER the 21st of January 2017 that can be twisted into being a contravention of party rules, is of special interest to them. Why? Because they want to use it to get him out of the party. It’s a witch hunt, by party staff.*
AUGUST 10TH 2017: BEN SUBMITS A ‘SUBJECT ACCESS REQUEST’ TO THE LABOUR PARTY.
Ben submitted a ‘Subject Access Request’ which allowed him to request all data and information that the party held on him. Many of the screenshots you see here are as a result of that request.
AUGUST 22ND 2017: THE LABOUR PARTY CONFIRMS RECEIPT / CONDITIONS OF THE SAR.
Andrew Whyte, the Head of External Governance confirmed receipt of the SAR, and the mechanism for paying the £10 charge to have it performed.
SEPTEMBER 28TH 2017: BEN SUBMITS A ‘SUBJECT ACCESS REQUEST’ WARNING.
By this date, the party was well overdue in responding to the SAR Ben had paid for, and was legally entitled to within FORTY days from the point of request. At this point, Ben contacted the Information Commissioners Office to give them a ‘heads up’ that things were not going well with the Labour Party, and to seek further advice.
NOTE: On the 2nd of December, the ICO threatened to take action against the party unless they responded by the 18th of December.
NOVEMBER 28TH 2017: SAM MATTHEWS TRIES TO RUSH THROUGH A HEARING!
Knowing the party is running out of time to delay the SAR, which could potentially contain many spoilers of their efforts to smear Ben, Sam Matthews the Head of Disputes wrote the below email to Ben inviting him to a SECOND hearing. Notice that this is the first time he has mentioned the infamous Clause 2.1.8… one of the few party rules that refers people to the National Constitutional Committee of the NEC – and which has the power to expel members. **Notice the Samaritans comment…**
In a hurry suddenly Sam?
Seems fair doesn’t it?
DECEMBER 5TH 2017: KAFKA ISN’T DEAD. CONTRIBUTE TO A REPORT AGAINST YOURSELF…
As you can see here, Sam Matthews sidesteps the SAR, tries to get Ben to condemn himself by suggesting he is refusing to attend a hearing, and then tries to suggest it isn’t a hearing at all, but just a ‘report’ contribution. The duplicity on display here is staggering. Members who do not understand ‘LEGALESE’ or how the process works would blindly walk in to this process, and be chewed up ready for expulsion. It is a shocking corruption of how the party is meant to work. Ben awaits a response, which to date has not arrived.
Trying to set Ben up are we Sam?
Obvious set up avoided…
DECEMBER 13TH 2017: WANT TO COMPLAIN? BE PREPARED TO COMPLAIN MORE!
Several times here, you’ll have seen mention of abuse directed towards Ben. Ben held off reporting it for some time, as he felt it might affect his suspension appeal. But in the end, he realised several of the people behind his suspension were involved in the abuse—including Regional Office and some named people at Head Office. So, he sent in some complaints. Here is what happened…
They literally didn’t care… what the hell are these ‘staff’ playing at?
Nobody was listening, Ben was stonewalled and unheard…
DECEMBER 14TH 2017: DON’T COMPLAIN TO US, WE JUST WORK HERE!
With the utter shambles displayed by the Labour Party complaints team, they redirected Ben on to Sophie Goodyear, an NEC appointed ‘Internal Ombudsman’ for complaints, who is supposed to be a ‘neutral’ and ‘trusted’ person for handling complaints. Given that she was a member of the right-wing controlled ‘compliance team’, and also appears to act as a member of Labour’s legal counsel, it’s hard to imagine she will give ANY thought or time to a normal left-wing members plight.
Computer says No?
They never did identify themselves…
Ann Black’s view on Sophie Goodyears appointment is clear:
“Under the new procedure members can contact the head of complaints Sophie Goodyear directly, on email@example.com or 07595-432542. She is separate from the governance and legal unit, but whether this is sufficiently independent to rebuild trust is not yet clear. And I would add that abuse of power is not limited to sexual harassment. Members can be intimidated in other ways as well.”
Ben is awaiting a response from Ms Goodyear, which to date, has not arrived.
DECEMBER 21ST 2017: THE SUBJECT ACCESS REQUEST COMES IN… SORT OF.
Ben arrived home to a large wad of print outs, in no particular order, and without any form of sorting, all delivered via recorded delivery. Much of what you see in this timeline has emerged from these materials.
On the letter below is one key paragraph relating to CLP’s that we think you’ll find VERY interesting, especially if you’re in a right-wing CLP… get your Subject Access Requests in to your local CLP, to see what the executive committee members are saying in private about you!
If you want to find out what your CLP has been saying about you – submit an SAR, and catch them in the act of behaving abominably.
2018: WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? A COMMENT FROM BEN…
It’s fair to say that I’ve had my share of trouble in the party, and outside it. Anyone who knows me, knows that I’ve campaigned solidly on housing, stopping HS2, anti-fascism, and more. I’ve joined Momentum, and committed serious time and money to helping the cause for Corbyn, fighting corruption, and training others on canvassing and communications. People who know me don’t judge me – they join me.
I feel I’ve been attacked by the right, and some on the left, because they know I cannot be bought. The favours, the special introductions, the career promises, the event invites – none of these work on me. Because I know that patronage is the Tory bankers way of doing things. Instead, I rely on hard work, and integrity. Being true to what you believe in, and fighting tooth and nail for it – just like Corbyn and McDonnell do.
If I’m expelled, it wont be because of what I’ve done. (Mostly, nobody is perfect.) It will be because of who I have made an enemy of. The Parliamentary Labour Party, and the ranks of Labour Councillors up and down the country are stacked with those who use patronage, popularism, and corrupt practices to stay in post.
Socialism is as foreign to them as it is to those in the Conservative party, and the Lib Dems. After all, I should know – I used to be a radical Lib Dem back when Blair was in vogue, and Labour wasn’t on the left.
I’ve made this timeline to show other suspended and expelled members that you’re not alone, and that there is a way to fight this corruption. You can have a voice – YOUR voice is more powerful than you will ever know.
I’ve heard nothing in 2018 from the party. Not a peep. That’s another seven months of wrongful suspension gone by (It’s nearly July 2018 now) – and my subs have counted for naught. The Labour East Midlands Regional office, and their allies / backers have a lot to answer for. This Saturday I attend my first mental health counselling session, to help me get over various life traumas, including losing my Dad whilst all of this was happening. Those traumas include learning to handle what the Labour Party has done to me, and what it continues to do to me.
I’m happy to help any of you as best I can with your suspension, or SAR’s. Thank you for reading this.
Ben Timberley – Suspended Labour Party Member.
Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org