New questions have been raised about Shami Chakrabarti’s peerage after it was reported that she was told of the potential honour in March.
The Daily Telegraph has claimed today that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn discussed with his advisers in the spring giving Chakrabarti a seat in the House of Lords – five months before it was officially announced that she was to be made a Labour peer and at least a month before it was announced she was going to chair an inquiry into antisemitism for the Labour Party.
Now Heat Street can add to the growing list of questions surrounding Chakrabarti’s peerage by revealing that she conducted her two-month antisemitism inquiry free of charge.
A Labour spokesman has confirmed that she was not paid a penny for this difficult and time-consuming piece of work – despite the fact she was unemployed when she took on the project, which was widely written off as a “whitewash”.
The spokesman has also denied that there was ever any discussion of paying her for it, despite Chakrabarti charging between £2,500 and £5,000 to make after-dinner speeches, as Heat Street has previously reported.
Parliamentary sources have repeatedly expressed concern that Chakrabarti might have known she was in line for a peerage and therefore failed to conduct as robust a report as an independent investigator. One has vowed to pursue the matter “until the full truth of the circumstances of the peerage are known.”
Lady Chakrabarti has told the Telegraph that she did not know she was in line for a peerage until it was offered to her on July 13.
She was employed by the charity Liberty until March 31. She is believed to have been paid about £80,000 a year to run the organisation.
On April 29 it was announced that she was to begin her antisemitism inquiry for the Labour Party. She also announced that she had joined the party that day.
She published her report on June 30.
A Labour spokesman told Heat Street that she was offered the peerage by telephone exactly two weeks later, on July 13.
She was apparently rung by Jeremy Corbyn’s chief of staff, Karie Murphy, who then put Corbyn on the line. He asked her if she would like to take a seat in the Lords and it was announced officially that she would do on August 4.
Hers was the only peerage which Corbyn, a lifelong opponent of the Lords, nominated.
— Peston on Sunday (@pestononsunday) October 9, 2016
Lady Chakrabarti took a hammering the other day for telling ITV’s Peston on Sunday she lives a “charmed and privileged life”. She added: “I live in a nice big house and eat nice food, and my neighbours are homeless and go to food banks.”
How many people (even of those who live in a nice big house and eat nice food while their neighbours go to food banks) could afford to chair a two-month inquiry for no tangible reward?
Not many, but we know Chakrabarti is a member of this elite club.
Furthermore, we now also know that Chakrabarti is rich enough to work for nothing even when she’s unemployed.
Heat Street has put some questions to Chakrabarti about her peerage but she hasn’t responded.
If she were willing to speak to us, the first thing we’d like to ask is: how surprised was she that Corbyn offered her a peerage on July 13?