McCluskey wins Unite leadership re-election

Unite leadership challenger Gerard Coyne suspended by Unite

Gerard Coyne, who is challenging Len McCluskey to lead Unite, has been suspended from his post as the union's West Midlands Regional Secretary.

Ballots closed yesterday, with turnout said to be lower than expected at around 12 per cent.

Unite, which is the Labour's biggest financial backer, has considerable influence within the party.

Few can blame the 88 per cent of voters who took no part in the contest.

It is understood the move is linked to statements he made regardingMr McCluskey's purchase of a flat using union funds.

Many senior figures in the Labour movement have been focused on the battle to control Unite because it will decide whether the rules will be changed to ensure that a leftwing candidate gets on to the next leadership ballot if Corbyn loses the election. McCluskey has said before that once the election was concluded, he would be demanding answers on how what he called "a shameful campaign full of lies, innuendoes and smears" was allowed to play out.

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An email was sent to Unite members and staff in the West Midlands informing them that Mr Coyne had been suspended from his job.

Mr McCluskey's principal opponent, Gerard Coyne, had argued Unite should stop "playing Westminster politics" and " failed to collect a penny back" from its donations to Jeremy Corbyn's leadership contests.

His suspension from his post as West Midlnads regional secretary was confirmed by his spokesman, though the union itself has refused to comment.

Mr McCluskey, a key ally of Jeremy Corbyn, secured 59,067 votes while his main challenger Gerard Coyne won 53,544.

"The investigation is, of course, being conducted under procedure, and it should not be assumed that any offence has necessarily been committed".

One suggestion is that Mr Coyne was suspended for making defamatory claims in his campaign leaflets, while another is that he spoke at a meeting in the Commons organised by moderate Labour MP Chuka Umunna. "You will appreciate that it is not possible to comment further on this matter".

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