In an exclusive interview with PinkNews, Jeremy Corbyn has strongly condemned the homophobic abuse suffered by Labour MP Angela Eagle.
The MP for Wallasey was a key shadow cabinet ally of left-wing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn until earlier this year, when she launched a leadership challenge against him – though she has since bowed out in favour of another challenger, Owen Smith.
The leadership challenge sparked an angry backlash from Corbyn supporters within her local Constituency Labour Party (CLP).
17 people who were present at a local CLP meeting have filed a complaint alleging she was mockingly referred to as ‘Angie the Dyke’ – though some supporters of Mr Corbyn continue to insist there was no abuse whatsoever.
The local party has been suspended over the serious allegations of “bullying, intimidation, misogyny and homophobia” directed at Eagle and her supporters and staff.
Speaking to PinkNews, Mr Corbyn said he did believe that Ms Eagle had received homophobic abuse, and strongly condemned it.
He said: “Angela has suffered homophobic abuse which is absolutely and totally wrong and I support her in standing up against that.
“If anyone who claims to be a supporter of mine is making homophobic remarks or homophobic abuse then they are wrong.”
Mr Corbyn added: “If anyone is acting in a homophobic way in the Labour Party, they are wrong. They will have no support from me whatsoever in doing that. I absolutely condemn it and they should be investigated for their behaviour.
“If they are found to have made homophobic acts or made homophobic comments then there are sanctions open to them for the National Executive to take.
“That’s why I was concerned about reports I received over the issue of anti-Semitism and racism in the party. and I therefore appointed Shami Chakrabati to undertake an inquiry into it which she did.
“I asked her to do it in good time and she did it in two months, which is a very short time for such a report – but I felt that we had to get on the front foot and she produced a very good report, which suggests there has to be a more transparent process within the party for dealing with these allegations.”
Ms Eagle previously accused Mr Corbyn of failing to defend her from abuse.
She said: “At the AGM I was referred to disparagingly as ‘Angie the dyke’ and there were homophobic gestures made to one LGBT member who felt very intimidated by this.
“I am astonished at the lack of condemnation of this behaviour coming from the leader’s office… Jeremy keeps telling us that he is standing for a kinder, gentler politics, but that is rendered meaningless when he fails to protect people who have witnessed or been subjected to bigotry and intimidation from having their anonymous testimony challenged in public prior to an internal investigation taking place.
“The truth is that [Corbyn] doesn’t want to discourage his most ardent fans.”
She added: “I am a lesbian, I have been open about it and have never had a problem in Wallasey about it up until now.
“No one who really cared about LGBT rights would sit back and allow this behaviour to continue without condemning it.
“Personally, I’ll be voting for Owen Smith and I encourage everyone else to do so too. Because I do not think such bigotry would flourish under him.”
She added: “We are all fed up of the misogyny, the homophobia, and the threats of violence. The politics of bullying and intimidation should have no place in the Labour party.”
Eagle’s office recently cancelled advice surgeries on security advice after repeated threats of violence.
A brick was thrown through the window of Ms Eagle’s constituency office building days after she launched her bid, while one man was arrested in Scotland over death threats sent to Ms Eagle.