Exclusive: Byrne files “official notification” over alleged intimidation

Katie Neame
© David Woolfall/CC BY 3.0

Ian Byrne has filed an “official notification” about alleged intimidation at a recent campaign rally, LabourList can reveal, amid the ongoing reselection battle in his Liverpool West Derby seat.

The Labour MP published a statement on Sunday alleging that he had faced “intimidation” at a campaign event the day before, which he described as “shameful” and “appalling behaviour”.

Byrne did not name anyone in his statement, but local councillor Harry Doyle, who was present at the location of Byrne’s event to take part in a campaign session with selection rival Anthony Lavelle, responded with his own statement, claiming that there was “no intimidation from any of Anthony’s team”.

Byrne told LabourList today: “Following a series of events which took place last Saturday, an official notification has been filed with relevant bodies.

“It is now for them to pay due diligence to the law and relevant codes of practise, fully investigate and reach a conclusion. The matter is in their hands, and I am focused on representing my West Derby constituents and fighting the Tories.”

Byrne confirmed in October that he had been ‘triggered’, meaning an electoral college of local party branches and organisations affiliated to the Liverpool West Derby Constituency Labour Party (CLP) had voted against him being automatically reselected as the MP and for a full selection process.

A shortlist of three to be the next Labour candidate for the seat has been drawn up, which includes Byrne, Lavelle and Hyndburn councillor Kimberley Whitehead. A hustings is scheduled to take place on November 20th.

In his statement on Sunday, Byrne said: “The intimidation I was met with yesterday when hosting two mayors, a local councillor and local party members was shameful, and anyone involved in this appalling behaviour, including local politicians, has been blocked from my social media.

“I have taken this action in support of my own and my team’s mental health and safety in light of the death threat we faced recently. I will also be seeking guidance from the police and council in the days ahead.”

Responding to Byrne’s statement, local councillor Doyle tweeted that he had been blocked by the MP following the event. Doyle said he was “shocked and appalled” at Byrne’s statement and claimed that there had been “no intimidation from any of Anthony’s team”.

He said in a statement: “The meeting point for Anthony’s campaign was at a venue next door to an event Ian held with supporters, which was completely unknown to me. I had friendly interactions with members supporting Ian, as I have known them for years.”

Another local councillor who was present, Nick Small, told LabourList that there had been “no nastiness at all” from either Lavelle’s or Byrne’s supporters and claimed that Lavelle had shaken Byrne’s hand after the latter’s rally had ended.

Small – who was there to support Lavelle’s selection campaign – said he met with a group of approximately ten others in a pub car park near to where Byrne’s campaign event was taking place ahead of a doorknocking session

A Labour Party spokesperson said: “The Labour Party takes all complaints seriously. They are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures, and any appropriate action is taken.”

Byrne was selected as the Labour candidate for Liverpool West Derby in 2019 in an incredibly tight contest, with the now MP reportedly receiving 222 votes ahead of runner-up Angela Coleman on 219. Byrne was subsequently elected to parliament with a majority of 29,984.

The MP revealed in August that he was contacted over the summer about a “possible threat” to his life and the lives of his family and office staff, in what he described as a “sobering reminder” of the dangers faced by those working in the public eye.

Anthony Lavelle and Harry Doyle have been contacted for comment.

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