Tom Watson demands evidence from Corbyn aide who claimed 'deep state' undermining Labour leader

Andrew Murray suggested security services could be trying to block a Labour government

Tom Watson demands evidence from Jeremy Corbyn aide who claimed 'deep state' undermining Labour leader

Tom Watson has accused one of Jeremy Corbyn's senior advisers of spreading "fake news" with claims that the "deep state" is trying undermine the Labour leadership.

Andrew Murray, a longstanding ally of Mr Corbyn and a part-time aide to the Labour leader, suggested the security services could be behind delays to approval of his parliamentary pass, which has been held up for nearly a year.

He also detected the hand of "possibly someone being paid by the taxpayer" behind media reports that he had been banned from Ukraine over his supposed links to Vladimir Putin's "global propaganda network".

In a sign of tensions with the leader's office, Mr Watson said the comments were "a bit John le Carre" and demanded Mr Murray provide evidence for his allegations.

The deputy Labour leader told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I think it is highly unlikely but I don’t know.

"I read that piece. I thought it was a bit John le Carre but I don’t know where his evidence is for that.”

Asked if Mr Murray should provide proof, Mr Watson said: “I think it would be helpful because I’m being asked about it on the Today programme and I don’t know what the facts of the issue are.

“If he thinks that the intelligence services are trying to undermine the official opposition then he should provide evidence because otherwise it’s just fake news.

Parliamentary authorities launched an investigation after it emerged that Mr Murray and Iram Awan, another senior aide, had been working in the leader's office without the correct security clearance for nearly a year. Ms Awan has now been granted a pass.

Mr Murray, who is also an aide to Unite leader Len McCluskey, quit the Communist Party of Britain in 2016 to join Labour and played a supporting role in last year's election campaign.

In the wake of weekend reports he had been barred from visiting Ukraine, Mr Murray suggested journalists could have been helped by government officials to discover his ban.

Writing in the New Statesman, Mr Murray said: “Someone else is doing the hard work – possibly someone being paid by the taxpayer.

“I doubt if their job description is preventing the election of a Corbyn government, but who knows?

“We are often told that the days of secret state political chicanery are long past and we must hope so.

“But sometimes you have to wonder – this curiously timed episode seems less rooted in a Kiev security scare than in a political stunt closer to home.”

He vehemently denied any links with Russia and insisted he had never planned to visit Ukraine, describing it as a country where “the parliamentary speaker is a Hitler admirer and pogromists and Nazi collaborators are national heroes”.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in