SWINDON blogger Andy Newman has put the Socialist Workers’ Party into crisis after leaking documents suggesting that it conducted an internal investigation of rape allegations against a senior member instead of reporting them to the police.
The scandal, which has opened up deep splits within Britain’s largest far-left party, emerged this week after Mr Newman published on his left-wing blog, Socialist Unity, the leaked minutes of a controversial disciplinary meeting which exonerated the un-named official accused of rape and sexual assault.
An unnamed member claimed she was assaulted over a six-month period between 2008, and 2009, but did not want to go to the police – preferring the party to deal with her complaint.
But six of the seven members of the panel found in favour of Comrade Delta, a national newspaper reported, and cleared him of her accusations.
However, when the committee's findings were shared with the party at a December conference, many members were clearly unhappy with the results.
The furore has led to the expulsion of key members and multiple resignations. Tom Walker, a journalist at the Party’s paper, Socialist Worker, was the most prominent member to quit in disgust.
The minutes of the disciplinary meeting detail how SWP leaders were determined to keep the matter away from the police – with one member stating that the party had no faith in the bourgeois court system to deliver justice.
Mr Newman, a Swindon Labour Party member, who was given the minutes by disaffected members, said he felt it was right to publish in the public interest and also to show that not all Socialists agree with the SWP’s actions.
Mr Newman, also the Swindon branch secretary of the GMB union, said: “I think it’s fair to say it was a kangaroo court rather than an internal inquiry. “With the best of intentions, they tried to be impartial and do a good job but it was just beyond them, it was amateur hour.
“I thought it was in the public interest to publish. At a level I’m surprised that anybody could do that but at another level it sort of matches their view of the importance of the organisation that they think they’re going to lead a revolution and they’re somehow outside mainstream society.
Mr Newman believes the members leaked to him as they wanted to get the story into the mainstream media..
The party’s national secretary, Charlie Kimber, did not dispute the veracity of the minutes in a letter to Socialist Unity demanding they be taken down from the internet.
“I do not believe you are motivated by any considerations apart from a desire to damage the individuals involved and the SWP and to achieve tawdry publicity,” Mr Kimber wrote.
Mr Newman denied the claim, saying he deliberately redacted the names of those who spoke to protect their identities. What was said in the disciplinary hearing was of public importance and justified publication, he said.