Labour MP Neil Coyle slams 'absurd' complaint from Jeremy Corbyn's office

Alan McGuinness, News Reporter

A Labour MP has hit out after a "pathetic and absurd" complaint was made about him to party officials by Jeremy Corbyn's office.

Neil Coyle wrote to the leader to raise concerns about the lack of briefings for MPs on Brexit and growing criticism of Labour's slow response in reacting to major news stories.

But the Bermondsey and Old Southwark MP was reported for "not raising questions with the line manager" to chief whip Nick Brown and general secretary Iain McNichol by office manager Karie Murphy.

Mr Coyle told Sky News: "I'd much rather be spending my time attacking the Tory record on policing and education, my constituency faces some of the worst cuts in the country, so I'd much rather be doing that.

"But I emailed Jeremy Corbyn directly and personally to raise concerns about the communications agenda of the party and specifically how Labour members of parliament are receiving briefings and how his team prepare and distribute things in advance of key events.

"Instead of any answers coming through or any attempt to even address those issues my email, my personal email, has been forward to the Chief Whip with a formal complaint from a member of Jeremy's team.

"I think it's pathetic, I think it's absurd."

Sources close to the Labour leader have confirmed to Sky News that Mr Coyle "has been reported to the Chief Whip for persistent abuse of staff online and offline".

In Ms Murphy's reply to Mr Coyle's email, she accused him of attacking Labour staff in a "vicious and unjust manner with absolutely no substantive evidence" and lacking "the common courtesy that I would have expected from an elected member of Parliament for the Labour Party".

Mr Coyle, a long-time critic of Mr Corbyn, said he was unsure what would happen next, but suspects the "ridiculous" complaint will be dismissed.

"My concerns about how the party communicates and how we get our message across at such a key time are completely legitimate," he said.

"Ultimately the chief whip and the leader can remove whips from someone they think has breached party rules and things, but I am 100% certain that I have broken no rules."

A recent poll found just 45% of Labour supporters backed Mr Corbyn as the best prime minister for the country in a head-to-head choice between him and Theresa May, dropping to 14% among all voters.