Two pro-Corbyn Labour staffers claim they were ‘gagged’ and forced to quit politics under Keir Starmer after submitting sexual harassment claims against a senior party official
- Laura Murray and Georgie Robertson allege they were asked to sign confidentiality agreements after harassment claims against Labour official
- They allege he displayed ‘inappropriate’ and ‘possessive’ behaviour in workplace
- Pair quit after refusing to sign gagging order that go against party’s own policy
Two former Labour staffers who made complaints of sexual harassment about a senior official resigned without pay after refusing to sign gagging orders that go against the party’s own policies.
Laura Murray and Georgie Robertson say they were asked to sign confidentiality agreements after reporting a senior official for alleged ‘inappropriate’ and ‘possessive’ behaviour, reports the BBC.
Before formally quitting the party, they were offered a settlement agreement with a confidentiality clause by Labour’s lawyers, which would have prevented the pair from speaking about the harassment case and any future legal claims against the party or official.
Ms Robertson said she ‘refused to be silenced’ by the confidentiality clause included in the deal, while Ms Murray described the fallout from the situation as ‘hellish’.
The party official, who was temporarily suspended in the wake of the allegations, has strongly denied both women’s claims.
Their lawyer, Mark Stephens, warned the non-disclosure agreements were against recommendations from the Equality and Human Rights Commission and would have violated Labour’s own policies.
Former Labour staffers Laura Murray (left) and Georgie Robertson say they were asked to sign confidentiality agreements after reporting a senior official for alleged ‘inappropriate’ and ‘possessive’ behaviour
The pair were offered a settlement agreement, that came with a confidentiality clause by Labour’s lawyers. Pictured: Sir Keir appearing with Labour councillors in Colchester, Essex
Ardent Jeremy Corbyn supporters Ms Murray and Ms Robertson both joined the party under his leadership.
Ms Murray was stakeholder manager in Mr Corbyn’s office when he was Labour leader, and went on to be the party’s head of complaints, before going into teaching.
After graduating from the School of Oriental and African Studies, Ms Robertson was elected co-president of the students’ union and was part of the Corbyn-supporting wing of the Labour Party – even writing an article for Labour List with the headline ‘Why Jeremy Corbyn is the right choice for women’.
At the time of the alleged harassment, several top Labour MPs, including Corbyn and Diane Abbott had publicly spoken out on non-disclosure agreements.
Corbyn himself had said in a 2018 press release that he would ‘commit the next Labour government to legislating to prevent making any contractual clauses (NDAs) which stop disclosure of future discrimination, harassment or victimisation’.
Ms Murray, then the party’s head of complaints, and Ms Robertson, a Labour press officer, submitted an initial complaint and formal grievances about the ‘inappropriate behaviour’ of a senior official in March 2020.
Ms Murray claimed the ‘overbearing and possessive’ man had tried to pressure her to join him for drinks, messaged her throughout the night and made inappropriate comments regarding her personal life and attractiveness.
She said: ‘It was really, really obsessive levels of communication. Because I was more junior, I didn’t really know how to protect myself’.
Meanwhile, Ms Robertson alleged the official asked her to join him for drinks after a private event and had sought her out while she worked late.
‘After rebuffing his advances, he then started to spread false rumours that I was sleeping with a married man at work,’ she told the BBC.
Ms Murray, then the party’s head of complaints, claimed the ‘overbearing and possessive’ official had tried to pressure her to join him for drinks, messaged her throughout the night and made inappropriate comments regarding her personal life and attractiveness
At the time they submitted formal grievances, Sir Keir Starmer had taken over the Labour leadership, and the pair insist the party failed to properly investigate their complaints
The official was formally suspended by the party, but was reinstated after the women said they felt ‘pressured’ to withdraw their official complaints.
With their futures up in the air, the pair submitted formal grievances as they attempted to leave the party for good.
At the time Sir Keir Starmer had taken over the Labour leadership, and the pair insist the party failed to properly investigate their complaints.
Labour were accused of never subsequently raising the formal grievances with the official in question, who has always denied the allegations against him.
‘It felt like a slap in the face and just being completely thrown under the bus’, Ms Robertson added.
MailOnline has contacted Labour for comment.
Ms Murray and Ms Robertson quit after rejecting Labour’s settlement offer, that came with a ‘broad confidentiality clause’ attached, reports the BBC.
Any signed settlement agreement would have seen them made to compensate Labour for all costs related to the party’s then-leaked anti-Semitism report. They have denied being behind the leak.
Both Ms Murray and Ms Robertson have recently been named as potential sources of the leaked report, which they worked on under Jeremy Corbyn’s instruction.
The pair have both since quit politics, with Ms Murray choosing to pursue a career as a history teacher, and councillor Ms Robertson saying she will not seek re-election.
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