Len McCluskey in fresh blast at Unite rival Gerard Coyne
Len McCluskey has launched a fresh attack on his Unite leadership rival as he secured the backing of senior figures within the union.
The left-wing firebrand accused Gerard Coyne of using an "openly hostile media" to boost his claims that the union is divided under Mr McCluskey's leadership.
His comments came as an advert in the Morning Star newspaper revealed he has won the backing of nine out of Unite’s ten regions, as well as the majority of the union's officers, regional committee chairs and executive members.
Mr McCluskey resigned as Unite general secretary last month in order to trigger a fresh election for the post.
Mr Coyne, who is Unite's regional secretary for the West Midlands, has accused his rival of being Jeremy Corbyn's "puppet master" and said the union should focus on representing its members rather than getting involved in the future of the Labour party.
In a thinly-veiled swipe at his rival, he has also vowed to "clean up" the union and introduce greater transparency on how its money is spent.
But hitting back last night, Mr McCluskey said: "I am deeply honoured to have received the overwhelming support of the people who give their time to build this great union and defend our members.
"Their vote of confidence in me is phenomenal. It sends a signal to our members that despite what one of my opponents may say, this union has gone from strength to strength under my leadership.
"This sends a clear signal to Unite members that their union is stable and united, determined to deliver for them in our workplaces – and wants to stay on this course.
"I hope now that this will persuade one general secretary candidate to desist from the nonsense claims he is making about our union, assisted all too eagerly by parts of the media who are openly hostile to this movement.
"The truth about Unite is that it is proudly united, democratic, progressive and will never, as long as I lead it, ever turn its back on its members.”
Mr McCluskey, 66, is seeking an unprecedented third term as Unite general secretary. The result of the election will be announced at the end of April.