Margaret Hodge asks police to investigate Unite over ‘payments’ to oust anti-Corbyn MPs

Leaked emails suggest plans were discussed to unseat opponents of Corbyn


Jewish Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge has asked the police to investigate one of Britain’s largest trade unions over a series of explosive emails suggesting it may have unlawfully funded political campaigns to unseat opponents of Jeremy Corbyn. 

In a statement posted on Twitter last night, Ms Hodge highlighted newly leaked material suggesting that Unite the Union officials discussed plans to deselect MPs including Ian Austin and former Deputy Labour Leader, Tom Watson, prior to the 2019 General Election.

Both Mr Austin and Mr Watson were prominent critics of Labour antisemitism under Mr Corbyn.

The BBC reported it had seen an email sent by West Midlands Unite activist Steve Price in February 2018 to Unite Assistant General Secretary Howard Beckett, who is also currently contending to be the union’s next General Secretary.

In the email, Mr Price reportedly outlined a plan to "put the skids" under Mr Watson, as well as former minister John Spellar. 

It was also claimed that in another email, Mr Price wrote that it had been agreed that he would be paid but he needed a "form of words to describe what I'm (not) doing".

Ms Hodge wrote: “In these emails, it appears Unite officials, including Howard Beckett, were deliberately orchestrating the deselection of longstanding Labour MPs. 

“They reportedly did this by funnelling money through their solicitors, who might not have been aware this was being planned.”

Trade unions are required to publicise when funding is spent to advance political activities. 

Unite the Union and Mr Beckett have both denied unlawfully spending union funds on campaigns to deselect moderate Labour MPs. 

In a statement to the BBC, Mr Beckett said: "Margaret Hodge is making a political stunt. 

“She's obviously doing it because of the fact that there is a Unite general secretary election. She opposes my candidature; she supports someone else in the race."

Unite the Union told the BBC it never accepted Mr Price’s deselection campaign proposals and no payments were ever made.

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