Disgraced former chair of the Jewish Labour Movement Jeremy Newmark is facing new questions about his financial conduct.
In an email to members on Wednesday, obtained by The Electronic Intifada, the group wrote it had “referred certain internal financial matters to the police for investigation” – although it did not directly name Newmark.
The group lobbies strongly for Israel within the UK’s main opposition party, and has close ties to the Israeli embassy.
The Jewish Labour Movement did not reply to emails asking whether the referral to the police concerned Newmark.
A spokesperson for left-wing group Jewish Voice for Labour told The Electronic Intifada that news of a report to police into the finances of this “habitually secretive organization” was “deeply concerning.”
The spokesperson said that the Jewish Labour Movement should “be transparent about its finances and its sources of income. It is unclear how a body with a slender membership base paying a modest annual subscription can afford to employ full-time staff.”
Speaking to The Electronic Intifada in 2016, Newmark denied the group receives money from the Israeli government.
He was caught on camera last year claiming to provide “intelligence” to the Israeli ambassador.
Newmark was forced to step down as chair earlier this month after The Jewish Chronicle revealed a document showing he had billed a Jewish charity for thousands of dollars in unwarranted expenses and transferred significant sums of money to external accounts without proper oversight during his tenure as chief executive.
Newmark has denied any wrongdoing.
The Jewish Chronicle on Friday also reported on fresh leaked emails proving that trustees at the charity, the Jewish Leadership Council, had been concerned about the truth of Newmark’s financial misconduct being revealed when they allowed him to resign on grounds of “ill-health.”
Mysterious report to police
When the allegations emerged this month, the Jewish Labour Movement initially denied that there were any “allegations whatsoever against Jeremy that relate to the Jewish Labour Movement.”
It did not reply on Friday when asked if that had now changed.
Jeremy Newmark also did not reply to emails from The Electronic Intifada seeking comment.
The email the Jewish Labour Movement sent to its members did not name Newmark, stating only that it would “not be appropriate for us to make any further comment” due to the report to police.
But a later section of the email, headed “Moving forward,” appears to distance the group further from Newmark.
Written by the Jewish Labour Movement’s national secretary Peter Mason, the email states that the group’s leadership had met that evening for “an emergency meeting to take stock of the last few days, and will meet again in March.”
Mason, a Labour councillor in Ealing, appeared to assert his leadership within the group in the wake of Newmark’s apparently forced departure.
Mason wrote that he would “act on behalf” of the group’s leadership committee “in the run up to, and beyond, the point at which we elect our new chair.”
A spokesperson for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn declined to comment on Friday concerning the new report to police.
Asked earlier this month how often Corbyn had met with Newmark since becoming party leader, the spokesperson replied: “Jeremy [Corbyn] or members of his staff meet all Labour Party affiliates and stakeholders, including the Jewish Labour Movement, on a routine basis.”
The Electronic Intifada understands that Corbyn’s team is now privately attempting to distance the leader from Newmark, claiming they rarely met one-to-one.
The Jewish Chronicle reported on Friday that it had obtained emails sent between Jewish Leadership Council trustees in 2013 discussing the need to conceal the “true reason” for Newmark’s departure.
At the time, Newmark and the group publicly claimed he had stepped down for health reasons after being diagnosed with diabetes.
In a move apparently intended to save face after Newmark’s previous conduct was exposed this month, the Jewish Labour Movement publicly denied having demanded he step down, claiming in a statement that he was resigning to seek “redress following the publication of historic allegations.”
In the 2013 emails published on Friday, then Jewish Leadership Council chairperson Mick Davis – now chief executive of the ruling Conservative Party – called an “urgent” trustees meeting over the “critical matter” of Newmark’s misconduct.
The “true reason” for departure
Soon after, trustees met with Newmark, who then reluctantly agreed to step down over “health issues” – but only with a handsome payoff.
He would continue receiving his salary and “reasonable” expenses for three months as a “consultant,” which would then be followed by severance of another three months of salary.
Stephen Pack later wrote to Davis and other fellow trustees of his concern that “the true reason for [Newmark’s] departure will emerge, regardless of our attempts to keep it confidential.”
He agreed with Davis’ plan to pay Newmark with the additional three months of salary after his departure as “a full investigation would have cost at least that amount.”
Pack added that it did “not sit well to pay someone who has done what he has,” but that it was better than “a long and messy investigation in the public eye.”
As of this writing, The Jewish Chronicle has published only quotes from the emails online, with two of the full emails available only in the print edition.
The Electronic Intifada has published these two in full at the end of this article.
It looks like the investigation which trustees feared may now be coming anyway.
A spokesperson for the Charity Commission, the body that oversees nonprofit organizations in the UK, said earlier this month that it “was not previously aware of the allegations, which raise serious potential regulatory concerns. We are assessing these, including by contacting the charity as a matter of urgency.”
A Charity Commission spokesperson on Friday said the body had no further comment.
A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police told The Electronic Intifada they had “no knowledge of a crime report being made to us” when asked about the Jewish Labour Movement’s statement about its financial matters.
The Jewish Labour Movement has several branches around the UK, and it is currently unclear where the referral to police was made.