Angela Eagle Was Target Of Homophobic Abuse And Brick Attack, Labour NEC Report Finds

'Highly likely' incident linked to her leadership challenge to Corbyn
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Angela Eagle was the target of a brick attack and homophobic abuse after her leadership challenge against Jeremy Corbyn, a leaked Labour Party report has found.

The report to the party’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) concludes that it is “highly likely” that the former Shadow Business Secretary and her office were subjected to intimidation.

Some Corbyn supporters have long claimed the allegations are ‘smears’ against them, but the report - based on evidence from 100 witnesses - dismisses such arguments.

HuffPost UK has also learned that leftwingers on the NEC tried to lift the suspension of her local Wallasey constituency Labour Party.

Momentum-backed members of the NEC, Darren Williams and Rhea Wolfson, are understood to have argued for an end to the suspension imposed this summer.

Jeremy Corbyn also told a meeting of the NEC disputes sub-committee that he wanted the suspension lifted as soon as possible, though he stressed he condemned the abuse Eagle had received.

But their plea was turned down at the meeting on Tuesday as other members of the ruling body pointed to the scale of the allegations of intimidation within the local party.

The smashed window
The smashed window

The night after Eagle launched her leadership challenge, a brick was thrown through a window in the building housing her local constituency Labour office in Merseyside.

Some supporters of Corbyn have said that there was no evidence that the smashed window had any links to Eagle’s opposition to the party leader.

Shadow Justice Secretary Richard Burgon warned in July that people should stop “demonising” Corbyn supporters as “bullies, brick-throwers and thugs”.

But the report to the NEC- a copy of which has been passed to HuffPost UK, states:

“It’s highly likely that the brick thrown through the window of Angela Eagle’s office was related to her leadership challenge.

“The position of the window made it very unlikely that this was a random passer-by. The window was directly between two Labour offices.

“Untrue rumours were subsequently spread that the building was occupied by many companies and the window was in an unrelated stairwell.

Angela Eagle
Angela Eagle
Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

“This was based on a Companies House search which found that the landlord had a number of companies registered there; in fact the only other occupant is the landlord on the upper floor.

“Once this incorrect rumour was spread, members repeated it as clear evidence Angela Eagle was lying. This is categorically untrue.”

The report also dismisses claims from some leftwing members that allegations of homophobia against Eagle locally were ‘smears’ on Corbyn supporters.

“The investigation has received many hundreds of abusive, homophobic, and frightening messages that have been sent by Labour members to Angel Eagle. Where appropriate, members have been administratively suspended pending investigation,” the report states.

The homophobia allegations will also be referred to the next meeting of the NEC’s equalities committee.

“We have already lost much of the Jewish community over anti-semitic abuse, we don’t want to be seen not taking tough action on homophobic abuse,” one NEC source told HuffPost.

Jeremy Corbyn
Jeremy Corbyn
Matt Crossick/Matt Crossick

The report found a “toxic culture” in Wallasey and “a high level of inter-member abuse” in the local party.

HuffPost has been told that Eagle was referred to as a “dyke” during the annual general meeting of the Wallasey party and the report confirms the claims.

“The investigation has found that some members have truthfully claimed that homophobic instances occurred during the AGM. Others truthfully said that they were not aware of those instances.

“It is possible for the events to have occurred without the knowledge of all members. The allegations are not that the CLP is institutionally homophobic or that members were aware of homophobia but took no action, but are specific to individuals. These allegations will be reported to the Disputes Panel regarding individual disciplinary action.”

Extracts from the leaked report
Extracts from the leaked report

In a statement, Eagle said: “It is now clear and accepted by the NEC that homophobic abuse was perpetrated by some members of the local party.

“I will simply not tolerate it, and I know I have the backing of both Jeremy and union leaders when I say that there is no place for it in the Labour movement either.”

A spokesman for the Labour leader said: “Jeremy wants the issues relating to Wallasey CLP to be resolved so campaigning can resume.”

HuffPost reported this summer that Corbyn had thanked local Wallasey members for their support. He conveyed his message through a speakerphone after some members staged an unofficial gathering..

At Tuesday’s meeting, NEC member Darren Williams asked for an immediate lifting of the suspension of the Wallasey party, a move that means it cannot hold regular meetings or carry out other functions.

He made his views clear on Facebook afterwards