Labour is embroiled in a row over alleged bullying at the top of the party after a shadow cabinet minister accused members of Jeremy Corbyn’s staff of “aggressive, intimidating and wholly unprofessional” behaviour.
Debbie Abrahams, the Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said her experience highlighted “a bullying culture of the worst kind”, adding that she would be making a formal complaint to party officials and parliamentary authorities.
The row came after Labour announced that Ms Abrahams had stepped aside while she is investigated over an “employment issue”. It is understood the issue relates to multiple allegations about her treatment of staff.
In an explosive response, the Oldham East and Saddleworth MP denied she had stepped down and instead took aim at Mr Corbyn’s office.
She said: “I refute the allegations that have been made against me in the strongest possible terms.
“I will fight this spurious claim and do not rule out taking legal action. I have had no details about the complaint, who it is from, the process or timescales. I have not agreed to stand aside.
Turning her guns on Mr Corbyn’s team, she added: “My treatment by certain individuals in the leader’s office over the last 10 months has been aggressive, intimidating and wholly unprofessional.
“My treatment in the last week has shown a bullying culture of the worst kind. As such I am making a formal complaint to both the Labour party and parliamentary authorities.”
UK news in pictures
Ms Abrahams was responding to suggestions she had voluntarily stepped down pending the outcome of an investigation.
A Labour spokesperson said: “Debbie Abrahams has stood aside from her front bench role while the Labour Party investigates an employment issue.
“Margaret Greenwood will act as shadow secretary of state for work and pensions during this period.”
As the row erupted, Nia Griffiths, the Shadow Defence Secretary, warned it would be “wrong to apportion blame” until the probe has been completed, saying there needed to be a “thorough investigation of all sides”.
She told BBC Radio 4’s Westminster Hour: “We do now have processes in place in the Labour Party to investigate fully and I think what is most important is that people are able to come forward if they do feel things are not right, and to report them….
“The investigation by the Party will enable the allegations to be looked at properly in full, and for Debbie Abrahams to be made fully aware of them.”