Labour MP accuses Jeremy Corbyn of failure to declare full legal funding

·2-min read

A Labour MP has reported former party leader Jeremy Corbyn to parliamentary authorities over allegations he had not properly declared financial support given to him for legal disputes involving anti-Semitism.

Sky News reported that Bermondsey and Old Southwark MP Neil Coyle had written to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards on Monday regarding financial and in-kind support for legal disputes the former leader has been involved in.

In the letter, seen by the PA news agency, Mr Coyle – a critic of Mr Corbyn – said he believed his former boss may have broken the code of conduct for MPs over declaring the support.

Mr Corbyn told Sky News: “I will be liaising with the commissioner in response to Neil Coyle’s correspondence.”

In his letter, Mr Coyle claimed that he had – “from multiple sources” – come to understand that Mr Corbyn, who now sits as an independent MP, had “received financial support for legal cases involving him in various legal disputes, principally surrounding anti-Semitism”, but that he said had not been properly declared.

Mr Coyle suggested the union Unite had supported the former party leader with legal costs “in excess of £100,000” in a defamation case brought by a political blogger. Mr Corbyn lost an appeal against a High Court decision in relation to the case in March.

And he claimed Unite had again supported Mr Corbyn, the MP for Islington North, in action against the BBC over their reporting of comments he made on shoot-to-kill policy.

Shadow cabinet reshuffle
Labour MP Neil Coyle (Jonathan Brady/PA)

In the letter to the authorities, Mr Coyle wrote: “Mr Corbyn has not declared funding from Unite for legal costs within his register of interests since he became leader of the Opposition.”

And he said “multiple members of Unite, including the deputy general secretary, Mr Howard Beckett, are aware of the significant financial support to Mr Corbyn”.

Mr Corbyn’s register of interests was updated in October 2020 to say: “I am likely to benefit from a legal fund managed by JBC Defence Ltd which was set up on 16 October 2020 to help meet any legal costs which I or my supporters incur in relation to allegations of defamation”.

Mr Coyle said: “But this does not refer to Unite’s contributions and states clearly it is only surrounding defamation cases.”

Unite was contacted for comment.

Mr Coyle told Sky News: “All MPs are expected to follow certain rules and some people seem to think they’re above it.

“We expect it from Boris Johnson with flat refurbishments, childcare and foreign holidays, but we cannot attack the Tories if we don’t equally take action when someone who seeks to be a Labour MP is receiving significant financial support and contributions, and not declaring it.”

Mr Corbyn had the Labour whip withdrawn in October 2020 following his response to an Equality and Human Rights Commission report into anti-Semitism in the party.