Unite leadership candidate Gerard Coyne suspended from job

Unite suspends Len McCluskey challenger Gerard Coyne just hours after polls close

Mr McCluskey has hit back, saying it made sense for Labour's biggest union affiliate to be close to the party.

Mr Coyne was criticised by Mr McCluskey for being too close to a number of Labour MPs in the West Midlands who opposed Mr Corbyn's leadership.

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

The suspension came less than 24 hours after the end of voting in the election, as counting of the 140,000 votes cast is about to get under way prior to an announcement of the result next week. They feel they might have lost or it's very close.

Unite has 1.4 million members, and a year ago donated £1.5 million to the Labour party.

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Mr Coyne's spokesperson confirmed he had been notified of his suspension.

During the campaign, Mr McCluskey has accused senior Labour figures like Tom Watson of "manufacturing division" and "living in a world of skullduggery, smear and plots", which has had the effect of framing the Unite contest around backing for Jeremy Corbyn's leadership.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey, pictured with Jeremy Corbyn at a march in London last May, is standing for re-election. "We will not be commenting further at this stage".

The ICO is also investigating claims a call centre used by Labour's West Midlands mayoral candidate Sion Simon has been used to contact Labour party members to see if they will support Mr Coyne.

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

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