Tom Watson brands claims of ‘deep state’ interference by Jeremy Corbyn aide ‘fake news’
Tom Watson has branded claims by one of Jeremy Corbyn’s advisers of "deep state" interference “fake news”.
The Labour deputy leader mocked suggestions made by Andrew Murray that the intelligence services were working to stop a Labour government from being elected, comparing them to the plot from a spy novel.
Writing in the New Statesman, the former Communist Party of Great Britain and Communist Party of Britain said his suspicions were raised by recent newspaper reports about his failure to get a security pass for Parliament nearly a year after applying.
The Mail on Sunday also reported that he has been banned from entering Ukraine for allegedly being part of Vladimir Putin's "global propaganda network".
Mr Murray, who is chief if staff to Unite general secretary Len McCluskey as well as advising Mr Corbyn part-time, said he believed the "manoeuvrings of what is now called the deep state" could be behind it.
But speaking to BBC Radio Four's Today Programme, Mr Watson said the assertions were "highly unlikely".
"I read that piece and thought it was a bit John le Carré but I don’t know where his evidence is for that.
"I genuinely don’t know why he has reached that conclusion and presumably he has more knowledge of that than me."
He added: "It does seem to me that if he thinks the intelligence services are in some way trying to undermine the official opposition then he should provide evidence, otherwise it’s just fake news."
Meanwhile, security minister Ben Wallace mocked Mr Murray's claims on Twitter.
Elsewhere in his interview, Mr Watson also said he supported calls for Labour to have a female joint-deputy leader, which will be voted on at next week's party conference.
He said: "I’m strongly in favour of that. I think it is really important that we continue the battle for gender parity in our party. That is Jeremy’s aim as well.
"I think this rule change should go through and I am sure as a party we will have an internal election that won’t be a distraction but may actually allow us to have a decent policy debate about where we go in the future."