Labour has warned one of Jeremy Corbyn’s strongest critics that he faces prosecution for publishing election leaflets that carry the party’s name and branding.
Former MP Mike Gapes, who is standing for The Independent Group for Change, has been sent a “cease and desist” legal letter over his campaign material in the east London seat of Ilford South.
Gapes’ leaflets include a red and yellow colouring scheme and he argues in them that he stands for “real Labour values”. The slogan on them reads: “Real Labour Values, Independent Mind”.
A former veteran MP for the constituency for more than 27 years, he quit Labour earlier this year in protest at Corbyn’s leadership, the party’s leftward shift and its failure to tackle anti-Semitism.
He faces Labour’s newly selected Sam Tarry, an official with the TSSA trade union and a former director of Corbyn’s 2015 leadership campaign.
But the party’s lawyers Edwards Duthie Shamash have accused Gapes of attempting to “mislead” voters to seek “undue influence”, which is an offence under the Representation of the People Act 1983.
Their letter, obtained by HuffPost UK, objects to “the wording ‘Real Labour values’” and the design of the leaflets.
“The colours used in the leaflet are colours that you will [be] very familiar with and are the identical colours, yellow and red, used extensively across the country by our clients, and instantly recognisable as Labour leaflets or other election material,” it states.
“It is quite clear that as a former Labour MP you seeking to mislead the voters to believe that you are campaigning to be re-elected by issuing this leaflet in its style, content and form.”
The letter adds that if Gapes continues to “pass yourself off any way as the Labour candidate by using misleading campaign literature, we shall immediately refer you to the DPP [Director of Public Prosecutions]”.
Gapes is understood to have sent a legal response to the letter, but he told HuffPost UK he stands by his campaign material.
“Corbyn Labour colours are dull red – they don’t use the Tony Blair, Gordon Brown New Labour colours,” he said.
“My slogan says: ‘Real Labour Values, Independent Mind,’ and it has my party, the Independent Group for Change logo, clearly published by my agent,” he said.
“And on the other side there is a letter explaining why I left the Labour Party and why Corbyn is unfit to be prime minister. It’s absolutely clear.
“It’s bright and attractive. As far as I know, the Labour Party has not yet managed to legislate to ban the use of yellow, bright red or white. No doubt it will be in Corbyn’s Queen’s Speech.”
When Gapes first took the seat from the Conservatives in 1992, he had a tight marginal majority of around 400. At the 2017 election, he built that into a huge majority of more than 30,000 votes.
Tarry and Gapes clashed over anti-Semitism at a hustings meeting on Wednesday night, after the Labour candidate declared that some in the party had “sought to exploit the issue just because they don’t agree with Jeremy Corbyn over an issue of foreign policy”.
Gapes said the claim was “a deflection tactic” and the Jewish Labour Movement said that the remark was “disappointing”. But Tarry insisted he had said that the Jewish community was “hurting badly” over the issue and that Corbyn should again apologise.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.