John McDonnell is 'absolutely furious' over leaked list of Jeremy Corbyn's critics

'That release came from the campaign, it didn’t come from Jeremy. We’ve apologised. It was inappropriate,' says the Labour MP for for Hayes and Harlington

Tom Peck
Thursday 15 September 2016 17:24
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Labour Party Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell
Labour Party Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said he was “absolutely furious” at the leaking of a list of MPs who had been abusive towards Jeremy Corbyn, which he described as “a setback” after Mr Corbyn’s perceived success at Prime Minister’s Question Time.

Labour MP Neil Coyle has threatened to sue Mr Corbyn for “defamation” for being named on the list, which Mr McDonnell described as a ‘factual report.’

Mr McDonnell said: “That release came from the campaign, it didn’t come from Jeremy. We’ve apologised. It was inappropriate.

"It was one of our researchers, who saw a bit of incoming flak and then did a list of all the statements that had been made by other MPs, some of which were not particularly kind let’s put it that way.

“It was a briefing note that shouldn’t have gone out, and we apologise for that. It certainly wasn’t a list to attack anyone, it was a factual report."

Neil Coyle has said the accusation he was guilty of abuse was defamation.

“I’ve let the chief whip, the party general secretary and the party chair know I’m upset. I let the leader know yesterday I was upset and wanted to know what I was being accused of,” he told the BBC this morning.

“If I receive a written apology from the leader and if this statement, this ridiculous, petty, student politics list is retracted, that would help.

“But I will still be talking to a lawyer tomorrow. This is defamation. I’ve been accused of abuse. That is completely unacceptable and it’s so unprofessional.”

Grammar schools dominate PMQs

Both Mr McDonnell and Mr Corbyn were appearing the Bloomberg Headquarters in London, where the Labour leader was giving a speech on Labour’s economic policy.

“I, as you know, never abuse anybody, tempting as it sometimes is,” Mr Corbyn said. “I don’t respond to unkind remarks that are thrown in my direction, because I believe that politics is far too important for that. We have to be relentlessly positive. Positive in putting forward an alternative.

“My whole message is going to be ‘the Labour Party comes together to oppose austerity, comes together to build houses, comes together to invest in industry, comes together to sustain the economy, and with our half million members, develops into that incredible campaigning force in every town and village across the country so that we carry that message across of decency and opportunity in society.”

Jeremy Corbyn: One year as Labour leader

When the issue was raised on last night’s Labour leadership hustings on Sky News, Owen Smith said: “That isn’t unifying, that is deeply divisive and frankly, it’s where you began the contest by talking about de-selection.”

Labour’s leadership contest concludes next week.

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