20/06/2017 15:16 BST | Updated 20/06/2017 15:21 BST

Gerard Coyne 'Sacked' By Unite After Losing To Len McCluskey In Leadership Race

Official brands disciplinary hearing was 'Stalin-esque show trial'.

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A union official who challenged Len McCluskey’s Unite leadership has been sacked over what he claims are ‘trumped up charges’.

Gerard Coyne lost by less than 6,000 votes in the election in April and was suspended from his role as West Midlands regional secretary a week before the result was announced.

An investigation into his conduct was ordered by McCluskey’s chief of staff, Andrew Murray - who was later drafted in to head up Jeremy Corbyn’s election campaign.

Coyne said on Tuesday he had been notified by email that he had been dismissed over an alleged misuse of Labour Party data during his campaign for union leadership. 

“I am deeply disappointed but not surprised at my dismissal. When you are in a kangaroo court, you are rarely surprised by the outcome,” he said in a statement.

“This preposterous trumped up charge has been used to indict me - even though the Returning Officer from Electoral Reform Services had already ruled that there was no breach of the rules.

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Len McCluskey held on to his Unite leadership with a 6,000 vote margin.

“It was always clear to me that the charges were nothing more than a stitch-up. My real ‘crime’ was having the audacity to challenge Mr McCluskey in the General Secretary election that he called unnecessarily.

“The disciplinary hearing was nothing more than a show trial and the irony not lost on me that Mr McCluskey’s chief of staff, Andrew Murray - a self-confessed admirer of Joseph Stalin - was the investigator and decision maker on the charge I was dismissed for.”

Coyne, who plans to appeal the decision, said he had been a Labour Party member for 30 years and his sacking was ‘a warning’ to anyone considering challenging McCluskey in the future.

“I will not be bullied into silence,” he added.

“Once the Certification Officer has considered my complaint about the conduct of the election, I am looking forward to a re-run of the contest. We will build a union where members interests are always put first - not subordinated to the political machinations of a clique.”

A spokesman for Unite said: “The decision is subject to a right of appeal to Unite’s Executive Council and the union will be offering no further comment on the matter.”