Michael Dugher says he has 'paid the price for speaking out' against Jeremy Corbyn

But the former shadow culture secretary says he was actually defending Mr Corbyn

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Indy Politics

Labour’s former shadow culture secretary has claimed he “paid a price for speaking out” after being removed from his position by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Michael Dugher had written an article questioning whether Mr Corbyn should replace MPs on the front bench who disagreed with his policy programme.  

But he found himself to be the first casualty of the reshuffle, removed from his post on Tuesday before other announcements were made.

“In truth what I did in the last few days really is I chose to speak out, but I chose to speak out because, you know, I was frustrated and angry about the fact that in recent weeks we’ve seen this terrible trashing of people’s reputations,” he told Sky News in his first broadcast interview after his sacking.

“We were drowning that out over the Christmas period because of this relentless speculation against colleagues. I took a decision to speak out and I paid a price for it.”

Later in the same interview Mr Dugher, however, said the article he had written was not critical of Mr Corbyn at all and that was actually defending him.

“If you actually go back and look at that article that I wrote in the New Statesman I was making a virtue and singing the praises of Jeremy’s New Politics,” Mr Dugher said.

“I said despite all the stuff you’ve read in the newspapers: I don’t think Jeremy Corbyn is a man motivated by revenge, I didn’t think he’ll do these mass sackings as an act of revenge over Syria that we’ve read about every day, every week, for several weeks. I was defending Jeremy and I was defending the 'new politics'.”

Though Mr Dugher said the selection of the shadow cabinet was “entirely a matter for the leader” the article was widely interpreted as a coded warning to Mr Corbyn.

Mr Dugher also said he believed his sacking had further ramifications.

“The truth is, I think the real casualty today has been the 'new politics' that we were all promised four months ago from Jeremy,” he told the broadcaster.

The former shadow cabinet minister’s statement comes after Chris Leslie, another Labour MP and a former interim shadow chancellor, attacked Labour’s “hard left” for allegedly not tolerating dissent.

Labour’s leader met members of the shadow cabinet and other MPs for one-on-one meetings today and yesterday in a bit to change his top team.

Further changes were expected to be announced after the day's main parliamentary business had concluded.