Published: 12:52, 29 October 2020
| Updated: 16:32, 29 October 2020
A Kent MP says an investigation's conclusion that her own party broke equality law in its handling of anti-Semitism complaints confirms "what many others knew".
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) found evidence of political interference in the way grievances were dealt with, and "unlawful harassment" in the Labour Party.
Former leader Jeremy Corbyn was plagued with allegations of anti-Semitism during his tenure and was criticised by members of his own party - including Ms Duffield - for failing to tackle it.
He has since been suspended from the party after he denied he was “part of the problem”.
An investigation was launched last year following complaints from organisations and people within the party.
The EHRC identified serious failings in the leadership in addressing anti-Semitism and an inadequate process for handling anti-Semitism complaints.
The party is responsible for three breaches of the Equality Act 2010 relating to political interference in complaints, failure to provide adequate training to those handling anti-Semitism cases and harassment.
It has has since been slapped with an unlawful act notice and has been given exactly six weeks to put together an action plan to implement the report's recommendations.
This is legally enforceable by the courts if the requirements are not fulfilled.
Ms Duffield previously admitted her party "probably is" institutionally anti-Semitic.
She was then embroiled in a row with former Canterbury Labour Party chairman Ben Hickman, who claimed her comments angered the “overwhelming majority” of local party members.
He described her comments as "reckless" and even suggested she could be deselected ahead of last year's general election.
In a statement today, she said: "Sadly, the EHRC report confirms what myself and many others knew, that there were unlawful acts and discrimination of anti-Semitism within the Labour party and the handling of it let many people down, causing deep divisions and wounds.
"We have lost many excellent colleagues and supporters because of this shameful chapter in Labour’s history.
"Keir Starmer’s apology and pledge to never let this happen again is crucial to building those breaches of trust that anti-Semitism has caused and I welcome the implementation of the Commission’s suggestions with immediate effect."
The EHRC found there were 23 instances of inappropriate involvement by the then-leader's office in the complaints process - including staff influencing decisions on suspensions or whether to investigate claims.
This was found to be indirectly discriminatory and unlawful as it put the person making the complaint at a disadvantage.
'We failed the Jewish people, our members, our supporters and the British public...'
It was also revealed there was a lack of training for people handling anti-Semitism complaints which indirectly discriminated against Jewish members until August 2020 - when Sir Keir Starmer was leader of the party.
Labour has committed to proper training, with the EHRC recommending it should be mandatory and fully implemented within six months.
The watchdog says the party is responsible for unlawful harassment against its members, identifying the actions of former London mayor Ken Livingstone and Labour councillor Pam Bromley.
Evidence of anti-Semitic tropes and suggestions of complaints being fake or smears were discovered.
But the report said the two cases were "only the tip of the iceberg" and a further 18 “borderline” cases were found, involving councillors, local election candidates and constituency party office holders.
Not enough evidence was produced in these instances to conclude Labour was legally responsible for their conduct.
Mr Corbyn said in a statement he did not accept all of its findings but trusts the recommendations will be "swiftly implemented to help move on from this period".
"The EHRC’s report shows that when I became Labour leader in 2015, the party’s processes for handling complaints were not fit for purpose," he said.
"Reform was then stalled by an obstructive party bureaucracy.
"But from 2018, (then general secretary) Jennie Formby and a new NEC that supported my leadership made substantial improvements, making it much easier and swifter to remove anti-Semites.
"My team acted to speed up, not hinder the process."
Speaking at a press conference today, Sir Keir Starmer described the conclusions of the report as "clear and stark".
"We failed the Jewish people, our members, our supporters and the British public," he said. "And so on behalf of the Labour Party, I am truly sorry for all the pain and grief that has been caused."