LabourList can reveal that Neil Coyle, the MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, has not only had the Labour whip suspended but is also administratively suspended from membership of the Labour Party, pending investigation.
It was confirmed on Friday morning that the Labour whip had been suspended from the backbench MP after politics reporter Henry Dyer revealed that Coyle had directed anti-Asian racist remarks towards him on February 1st.
The Insider journalist said the MP had told him that he could tell that the reporter was British-Chinese “from how you look like you’ve been giving renminbi [the Chinese currency] to Barry Gardiner”.
They had been discussing the story of Gardiner, the Labour MP, receiving funding from a suspected Chinese spy. According to Dyer, Coyle had suggested Gardiner was being paid by “Fu Manchu”, a fictional Chinese supervillain character.
Coyle has not denied making the comments. After the news of his whip suspension, the MP said: “I’m very sorry for my insensitive comments, have apologised to everyone involved and will be cooperating fully with the investigation.”
On Coyle’s membership suspension, a Labour spokesperson said: “We cannot comment on individual cases on the record because our disciplinary procedures are confidential and we must uphold our legal responsibilities for data protection.”
Labour was mandated by the Equality and Human Rights Commission to have a new internal complaints process since the beginning of 2022, with independent oversight of the process for all cases related to protected characteristics.
Earlier today, a party spokesperson said: “The Labour Party expects the highest standards of behaviour from all our MPs and we take allegations of this sort very seriously. Accordingly, the chief whip has now suspended the Labour whip from Neil Coyle pending an investigation.”
Dyer said he informed Lindsay Hoyle, the House of Commons Speaker, and “immediate action” was taken to suspend Coyle from the bars on the parliamentary estate pending an investigation by the Labour whips’ office.
The evening before the incident with Dyer, Coyle rowed with a Labour staffer in the same bar. Responding to the aide’s views on Brexit, he allegedly shouted “F**k you” and “Are you f**king insane?” before telling a Tory MP to “f**k off and lose some weight”.
Coyle has contacted Dyer and “offered his apologies for his inappropriate actions”, according to the journalist. “He reiterated that he will be complying with the Labour Party’s investigation,” Dyer said.
LabourList understands that the Labour staffer who was allegedly sworn at by the MP on January 31st in Strangers’ bar has not received an apology.
Coyle today suggested to a group of regular canvassers in his local party that he would soon be joining them on the campaign trail, saying: “So everyone is clear: I am very sorry about my insensitive comments last week and have apologised to the people involved.
“The party response is right and proper and an investigation is underway. This does not stop the campaign and I am more determined than ever to prove my Labour values and ensure w me [sic] make gains in May.
“I’m sorry to you all for any discomfort whilst this process is followed and look forward to seeing you on the campaign trail soon.”