The Labour NEC have won an appeal court judgement over whether they had the power to restrict voting rights to only those members who had been members for six months or more.
The decision made by the judges, which reversed a decision by Mr. Justice Hickinbottom said:
“We allow the appeal. On the correct interpretation of the Party Rules, the National Executive Committee has the power to set the criteria for members to be eligible to vote in the leadership election in the way that it did. We find that there is express provision in the Rules which enables them to do this, in particular where the Rules state: “The precise eligibility criteria [‐ that is to say, to vote in the election ‐] shall be defined by the National Executive Committee …”. With respect to the judge, we unanimously consider that he erred in law in reaching the contrary conclusion and therefore allow Mr McNicol’s appeal”.
The Labour Party welcomes the decision of the Appeal Court. The Party has said consistently throughout this process that we would defend vigorously the decisions of the NEC.
A spokesman for the NEC said:
“It was right that the Party appealed the judgement on the freeze date, just as we would have appealed if the Court in the previous case did not uphold the NEC decision that the incumbent Leader of the Labour Party did not require nominations. It is crucial to the Labour Party that our governing body has the authority to debate, decide and implement the procedures, timetable and voting eligibility for our internal elections and selections”.
Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Party, criticised the decision saying:
“The court’s ruling disenfranchises nearly 130,000 Labour members who joined the party since January and were explicitly told that they would have a vote in any leadership election”.
Owen Smith, who is contesting the leadership election against Corbyn, said that he would continue his campaign in the same way and that it wouldn’t make a difference.