Len McCluskey: MI5 using 'dark practices' on social media to thwart Jeremy Corbyn
The boss of Britain’s biggest trade union has accused MI5 of using “dark practices” against Jeremy Corbyn by posing as his supporters to “stir up trouble” on social media.
In an astonishing development, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey argued anybody who refused to believe in such a possibility “doesn’t live in the same world that I live in”.
Labour MPs opposed to Mr Corbyn's leadership have complained about the barrage of abuse directed at them online from his supporters, including rape and death threats.
Mr Corbyn has condemned such abuse and issued a code of conduct for the party, but he stands accused of failing to crack down on the issue.
Mr McCluskey - who is backing Mr Corbyn to remain Labour leader - today insisted secret documents released in 30 years would prove spies posing as supporters of the veteran left-winger were behind the torrent of online insults.
“Of course, of course. Do people believe for one second that the security forces are not involved in dark practices?” he said in an interview with the Guardian.
“I have been around long enough… the type of stuff that we ultimately find out about, about who was involved in who, the 30-year rule.”
Asked whether he really believed it would be revealed that the security services were involved in Mr Corbyn’s leadership woes, Mr McCluskey said:
“Well I tell you what, anybody who thinks that that isn’t happening doesn’t live in the same world that I live in.
“Do you think that there’s not all kinds of rightwingers who are not secretly able to disguise themselves and stir up trouble?
“I find it amazing if people think that isn’t happening.”
He added: “We found out just a couple of years ago that the chair of my union then, the Transport and General Workers Union, was an MI5 informant at the time that there was a strike taking place that I personally as a worker was involved in.
“[In] 1972, I was on strike for six weeks. And 30 years later it comes out that the chair of my union at that time was an MI5 informant.”
A Whitehall source told the Guardian: “MI5 are focused on protecting the country and its people from the very real threat of terrorist attacks and would never - and could never - engage in this type of activity.
“MI5’s activities are subject to rigorous oversight and to the law.”
Angela Eagle, who was the first MP to launch a leadership challenge against Mr Corbyn, today accused him of “stirring” tensions after she was forced to cancel constituency surgeries due to abuse.
She said of Mr McCluskey's claims: "His comments are over the top.”
Labour leadership hopeful Owen Smith meanwhile said a “culture of bullying” had developed in Labour under Jeremy Corbyn’s watch and likened the embattled leader to Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley.
PoliticsHome revealed today that a senior aide to Mr Corbyn said the Labour leader wanted to phone MP Conor McGinn's father to complain about an interview he had given to The House magazine.
And a group of female Labour MPs have today written to Mr Corbyn demanding he commit to three pledges to stamp out bullying in the party - particularly against women.
Mr Corbyn said this morning: “I don’t do any abuse, I don’t do any bullying, I don’t allow it to be done in any of my campaigning teams.”