Lies, Falsehoods and Misrepresentations from Boris Johnson to Keir Starmer

Diane Abbott “is subject to an ongoing investigation, which is separate from me.”

Sir Keir Starmer, Labour Leader, interviews with the BBC Radio 2, BBC, LBC and The News Agents

Facts

Diane Abbott was put under investigation by the Labour Party for comments she made about racism in a letter published by the Observer on 23 April 2023. 

In an interview with BBC Radio 2 on 14 March 2024, Keir Starmer claimed that Abbott was “subject to an ongoing investigation, which is separate from me. That’s not something which I conduct.” On the same day he told The News Agents: “That process needs to complete.” 

On 24 May 2024 Starmer reiterated to the BBC that Abbott “is going through, been part of, getting to the end of a disciplinary process because of something that she said,” and told LBC that “Diane is going through a process… in relation to the investigation of an issue relating to her that’s not finally resolved yet.”

However, on 28 May the BBC revealed that “The Labour investigation into Diane Abbott over comments she made on racism was completed in December 2023,” five months before Starmer’s final claim that it was ongoing. The BBC’s reporting was not denied by the Labour Party or by any of its representatives.

Despite the Labour Party’s investigation having completed in December 2023, Starmer did not restore the parliamentary whip to Abbott until after the BBC’s revelation at the end of May 2024. There was widespread speculation that he was refusing to do so in order to “run down the clock” to the general election to prevent her standing for re-election as a Labour candidate. Decisions on whether to restore the whip are in the hands of the party leader and the chief whip, Alan Campbell. It is inconceivable, given the press scrutiny of this case, that Starmer and Campbell were unaware that the party’s disciplinary process had concluded—indeed, according to the BBC, Campbell sent Abbott an email in February 2024 acknowledging that she had completed antisemitism training requested by the party following its investigation.

Verdict

When Starmer repeatedly said Abbott’s investigation was “ongoing,” he must have known it had in fact completed months earlier.

We emailed Sir Keir Starmer’s office and Labour offering them the chance to respond. We received no response.

We also emailed Diane Abbott offering her the opportunity to respond, she replied “Thank you for the courtesy of informing me of the content of your piece. I am frequently taken aback by the number of your colleagues in the press who neglect to do so. However, I do not wish to comment on the content of the piece at this time. I hope you will understand.”

Published 28 Jun 2024
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