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Keith Henderson: the complete correspondence between John McDonnell and Paul Kenny

18th October 2013

Keith Henderson: the complete correspondence between John McDonnell and Paul Kenny

Here is the complete correspondence between John McDonnell and Paul Kenny on the subject of Keith Henderson.

From Paul Kenny
Dear John,

I notice your letter to me has been published in full on the LRC website.

It is obviously a matter for you where you choose to publish your correspondence but I hope you will ensure my reply to you in given similar full exposure alongside yours.

Paul Kenny

From: John McDonnell
To Paul Kenny
Subject: RE: Keith Henderson

Dear Paul,

Thanks for this reply.

I am not seeking to interfere in the democratic practices of your union but knowing you and also Keith I was hoping that this matter could be resolved by discussion.

I would be happy to assist in any mediation if you feel it would be of value.


John McDonnell

From:  Paul Kenny
Sent: 18 October 2013 06:14
Subject: Re: Keith Henderson


Dear John,
Thank you for your note.
I do not intend to enter into lengthy correspondence with you over this matter but I do feel you should be made aware of certain facts.

Keith Henderson was dismissed from his employment by the GMB because in the findings of the Tribunal he was unmanageable.
The Tribunal found his dismissal to be fair.
The finding of indirect discrimination was in our legal advisors’ opinion perverse and is subject to appeal.
It is absolute nonsense that anyone including Mr Henderson has ever been the subject of discrimination because of their democratic socialism beliefs during my time as General Secretary.

The picket lines raised on the pensions day of action were visited and supported by many labour MPs and other party staff and that was welcomed.
Mr Henderson issued a written instruction to MPs to participate in the dispute which he did not have authority to do and putting aside the legality of such an instruction to those not directly involved in the dispute, it cut across the requests made to the PLP to attend the house and argue the public sector workers case on that day.

It is pure rubbish to suggest anyone in the party applied pressure direct or indirect on me or the GMB to discipline or censure Mr Henderson over this or any other matter connected with the Labour Party.
It has become clear during these events that certain people are determined to attack GMB and they have used discredited ex-employees to do so.
I thank you for your concerns on the wider matters but please be advised any interference in the internal democratic affairs of the GMB will be responded to without exception.

The ET is as I say the subject now of an appeal from the union on the one point you raised which stands out from all the clear and unequivocal judgements made against Mr Henderson and others all of whom were clearly found to have brought baseless claims against the Union.

Paul Kenny


From: John McDonnell
To: Paul Kenny
Subject: Keith Henderson

Dear Paul,

I am writing with regard to Keith Henderson.

I have been really shocked at what has happened to Keith.

As you know, Keith was a tremendously hard working GMB officer who was totally committed to the union and the interests of its members.

On the day of the co-ordinated industrial action on pensions in November 2011 Keith did a great job in organising picket lines at Parliament and I joined those picket lines. The atmosphere on the picket line was good natured and in the best traditions of the trade union movement of solidarity. Many Labour MPs supported the strike and rightfully respected the picket lines. This appears to have upset some in the office of the Labour leader.

Since then, as you know, Keith has experienced real problems in both the union and the Labour Party. Keith was eventually dismissed from his post within the union and within the party he was prevented from standing as a councillor.

It has now been found at a recent Employment Tribunal that “a substantial part of the reasoning behind” Keith’s dismissal “was because of his philosophical belief and was an effective cause of his dismissal.”

Keith’s philosophical belief is described by the Employment Tribunal as being “Left wing democratic socialism.”

This must be the first time a trade union, and possibly any employer, has been found to have considered a person being a Left wing democratic socialist as part of the reasoning for sacking him.

I am sure you agree that the union would not want to be associated with any finding of discriminatory treatment of an employee on the basis of his belief in democratic socialism.

I am writing therefore to appeal to you to review this matter and reinstate Keith as an officer of the union.

I believe that talented, hard working trade union officers like Keith are the future of our movement.


John McDonnell MP


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