An MP has lost his High Court bid to be reinstated to the Labour Party after he was suspended in an anti-Semitism row.
Chris Williamson was suspended in February after claiming Labour had “been too apologetic” in its response to criticism of handling allegations.
He was reinstated in June but was suspended again after a backlash from MPs, peers and Jewish groups.
However the judge also ruled Labour acted unlawfully when it reopened the disciplinary case against the MP.
The Derby North MP, who raised more than £60,000 to fund his legal challenge, remains suspended from the party but he said he would continue to fight to clear his name.
‘No reason for reopening case’
In his ruling, Mr Justice Pepperall said the Labour Party “acted unfairly in that there was no proper reason for reopening the case against Mr Williamson”.
However, he said there was “nothing in the new allegations, the timing of the letter of 3 September or the decision to suspend that entitles me to take the view upon the papers that the Labour party is acting either unfairly or other than in good faith”.
“I therefore refuse relief in respect of Mr Williamson’s recent re-suspension. The new disciplinary case must run its course.”
Mr Justice Pepperall said: “It is important to stress at the outset of this judgement that this case is not about whether Mr Williamson is, or is not, anti-Semitic or even whether he has, or has not, breached the rules of the Labour Party.
“The issue is whether the party has acted lawfully in its investigation and prosecution of such charges against Mr Williamson.”
Outside the court, Mr Williamson called the judgement a “clear victory for justice and due process” after his suspension was deemed unlawful.
He said it was a “damning indictment of our party’s internal disciplinary procedures” and that the party’s bureaucracy “had been defeated in the courts”.
However, he added: “I never expected, nor wanted, to be in a position where I was forced to take legal action against the party to which I have devoted my life.”
The party member of nearly 44 years said he believed his suspension was down to “forces hostile to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership”.
A Labour Party spokeswoman said: “The court has upheld Chris Williamson’s suspension from the party and has said his disciplinary case must run its course.”