An open letter to Jewish Leadership Council and Jewish Chronicle

The JC last Friday devoted seven pages to the JLCs ‘internal audit’ compiled in 2013 regarding alleged misdemeanours of the then CEO, Jeremy Newmark.

The ‘internal audit’ – reproduced by the JC – and the coverage of it prompts a number of questions:

1. The JC’s original headline said that the audit ‘alleges he deceived the JLC out of thousands of pounds’ and that ‘JLC trustees made good the losses.’

How is the first headline consistent with the reported comment that Sir Mick Davis ‘did not believe there was proof Mr Newmark’s behaviour had been prompted by a desire for personal enrichment’? Why else would an employee ‘deceive’ his employer on financial matters, if NOT for reasons of personal enrichment?

And what about the ‘thousands of pounds’ that allegedly went incorrectly into Mr Newmark’s pocket: where is the evidence to back this allegation?

2. And what about the ‘made good the losses’ reference? ‘Losses’ in this context means ‘fraud’ or ‘theft’ – that there was JLC cash that was knowingly inappropriately used for private gain.

Where is the evidence? A hotel which mistakenly charged a company card for personal expenses is not fraud; and anyway Mr Newmark says ‘the matter has been resolved (this is not reflected in the JC’s headline). Installing security equipment at Mr Newmark’s home is not fraud either. In fact the very inclusion of this item in a supposedly damning ‘internal audit’ graphically demonstrates how flimsy the charges are. The CEO of the JLC is undoubtedly on the hit lists of many terrorists.  Do the JLC Trustees seriously expect not to have to provide security for his family home? Has Simon Johnson (Mr Newmark’s successor) not been given security at his home?

Neither is poor administration (eg failing to safeguard receipts – the kind of thing which tripped up former MP Denis MacShane for example) evidence of fraud. Remember that Mr Newmark was the first CEO of a new organisation. It was a startup. Anyone who has ever been involved in a startup knows that when you are working sometimes an 18 hour day with little clerical support, rigorous office procedures sometimes slip.

3. The JC’s original headline referred to JLC trustees ‘making good losses’.

But by 20:30 on 10 February, this reference had gone.

Why was the headline changed?

4. Why was it wrong for Mr Newmark to use Hilton HHonours points for personal use? No organisation where I have worked insists that AirMiles can only be ‘spent’ on company business. If this was a JLC Policy, why is there no mention of a ‘Policy Document’ in the audit? And how could there be such a policy, when (as is stated by Mr Newmark) his points also accrued from sources other than JLC travel?

5. Why has the JC published an ‘internal audit’ which is five years old and which therefore fails to reflect any more recent payments by Mr Newmark? Is the timing an attempt to forestall a rumoured peerage for Mr Newmark?  Why did the JLC pass the audit to the JC without also passing more recent evidence of payments being made?

6. Why has the ‘internal audit’ been put into the public domain? Mr Newmark resigned from the JLC. He was not dismissed for ill conduct or poor performance. Like any employee, he is entitled to confidentiality for his HR file. No government department would dream of publishing this kind of document about a former employee. Neither would any decent sized company.

7. Why is some of the ‘internal audit’ unevidenced scattergun sensationalist smear? (For example: ‘Seemingly unlimited spend on JLC debit and credit cards’ and ‘Thousands of pounds worth of expenditure every year on food, travel, taxis, parking, congestion charge, phones, equipment and trips abroad.’)

8. Why was Mr Newmark given only a few hours to respond to the six questions the JC asked? And why was he not given time to respond to the rest of the ‘internal audit’? And why were his responses not included in the hard copy JC, rather than just the online version?

Mr Newmark has been unstinting in leading the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) in the fight against antisemitism in the Labour Party. It was above all thanks to him that the 2017 Labour Conference passed the new rule (by an overwhelming majority) that a Labour member found guilty of hate speech can be expelled from the Party without going through the suspension step. As a result of the JLC’s and JC’s actions, Mr Newmark has felt obliged to leave the leadership of the JLM in order to defend his name.

Particularly at a time of heightened antisemitism, it is a matter of deep regret for many that Mr Newmark has been forced to leave the fray – for both Labour members and non-members alike.

The JLC and JC appear to have given an open goal to the antisemites. We are surely owed answers.

About the Author
Jonathan Hoffman is a blogger who has written for United With Israel, CiFWatch (now UK Media Watch), Harrys Place and Z-Word.
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