Northern Ireland

Labour MP says Jeremy Corbyn wanted to call his former SF councillor father 'in attempt to bully me'

Conor McGinn Image copyright PA
Image caption Conor McGinn accused Jeremy Corbyn of 'hypocrisy'

A Labour MP has accused Jeremy Corbyn of threatening to use his father - a former Sinn Féin councillor - in an attempt to "bully me into submission".

Conor McGinn claimed the Labour leader proposed phoning his father after an interview in which he said Mr Corbyn needed to "reach out beyond his comfort zone."

When asked about the claims a spokesman for Mr Corbyn said "it's untrue".

The St Helens MP accused the Labour leader of "hypocrisy".

He said he chose to speak out after watching a TV interview with Mr Corbyn.

In the interview, Mr McGinn said, the party leader had spoken about the need for a "kinder, gentler politics."

The MP, who is originally from south Armagh, claimed that after he spoke out about Mr Corbyn in May he got a call from the Labour whips' office saying the party leader had initially asked for his resignation, and then considered sacking him.

Friendship

But subsequently, through his spokesman, he had asked for an apology and retraction, which Mr McGinn refused to do.

The MP says he then texted the Labour leader to make clear no offence was intended and reiterate that their friendship was important to him and asking for a meeting.

He received no response but says he was then informed by the whips' office that Mr Corbyn had proposed asking the MP's father, Pat, to intervene.

Pat McGinn was Sinn Féin councillor in Newry for many years, serving as the council's mayor between 2005 and 2006.

In a statement, Mr McGinn said: "It transpired that Jeremy, in deliberations about how to respond to my interview, had said that he intended to ring my father to discuss it with him and ask him to speak to me about it.

Image caption A spokesman for Mr Corbyn said the claims were 'untrue'

"The leader of the Labour party was proposing to address an issue with one of his own MPs by ringing his dad.

"Jeremy does not know my father so I can only presume that because of the much-publicised fact that my father was a Sinn Féin councillor, Jeremy felt that they would share a political affinity and was proposing to use that to ask my father to apply pressure on me.

"Thankfully, others dissuaded Jeremy from taking this course of action. The call was not made, and it would not have been well received.

"When I watched Jeremy's interview on Newsnight last night, I am afraid I could no longer tolerate the hypocrisy of him talking about a kinder, gentler politics when I knew for a fact that he had proposed using my family against me in an attempt to bully me in to submission because he didn't like something I said.

Police protection

"That is why I have reluctantly and sadly chosen to make this information public now."

The MP also claimed that in the past fortnight he had needed police protection to conduct his constituency surgeries after being subjected "to a torrent of abuse and threats".

Mr McGinn said that a Twitter account using the name Frank Ryan - which claims to have a close association with Mr Corbyn - subsequently posted that he was a "traitor" and no longer welcome in his home village of Camlough.

He added: "To date, I have not had any answer from Jeremy about his relationship with this person or an explanation about how she or he obtained the photograph."

Asked about Conor McGinn's claims, a spokesman for Jeremy Corbyn said "its untrue".

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