Len McCluskey rival Gerard Coyne suspended by Unite after polls close in general secretary election

Posted On: 
20th April 2017

Unite have suspended Gerard Coyne, the senior official challenging Len McCluskey to be general secretary of the giant union.

Gerard Coyne has been suspended by Unite.
PA Images

The dramatic move came just hours after polls closed in the bitterly-contested vote, and amid speculation that the result is “incredibly close”.

Mr Coyne was Unite's regional secretary in the West Midlands, but had to stand down from the role when he launched his bid to replace Mr McCluskey as the union's boss.

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Voting closed in the election at 5pm yesterday, and counting is set to get underway tomorrow.

His temporary replacement, Des Quinn, emailed Unite officials in West Midlands this morning to tell them that disciplinary action had been taken against Mr Coyne.

A spokesman for Mr Coyne said: “The email said Gerard had been suspended from his duties. We don't know why at this stage and we won't be commenting further.”

But a senior source in the Coyne campaign told PoliticsHome that the suspension could be connected to the attacks he made on Mr McCluskey – who is seeking a third term as Unite general secretary – during the campaign.

They included questions about a deal Mr McCluskey struck with Unite to help him buy a £700,000 flat in central London.

Under the arrangement, Unite contributed £417,000 to the cost of the flat near London Bridge. Mr McCluskey provided the rest of the money himself.

Unite officials insist that such equity share schemes are commonplace, particularly for trade union officials moving to London, that they are properly authorised and generate large profits once the properties are sold.

PoliticsHome has learned that turnout in the Unite election could be as low as 12%. The result is set to be announced next week.