John McDonnell insisted he has “not met any Czech spies” as he joked KGB agents would probably sue The Sun for associating them with the Labour Party.
Speaking at an economics panel on Thursday morning, McDonnell repeated the Russian for “hello comrades” - the greeting he had given the shadow cabinet the day allegations Jeremy Corbyn had met a communist spy were first made. “I’m not allowed to tell jokes any more - but blow it,” he said.
McDonnell told the event hosted by the Resolution Foundation after being asked about the claims: “No. I have not met any Czech spies etc.
“The allegations that I was a KGB agent was at the time I was a council officer in Camden.
“I promise you I was not selling secrets to the KGB on Camden’s development of housing.
He joked: “I’m told there are a group of KGB colonels who are suing The Sun for associating themselves with us.”
Corbyn’s office has hit out at the “absurd and hallucinogenic” allegations that he was connected to a Czech spy during the Cold War.
The Labour leader has warned newspapers that “change is coming” after the accusations were made.
Brandon Lewis, the chairman of the Conservative Party, said it was “bizarre” that Corbyn “would be threatening the press” as a “free press is important for democracy”.
And Labour MP John Woodcock said of his own party: “Are we really threatening the press with more regulation because they printed a story we didn’t like? This is not ok.”
Yesterday Conservative ministers were accused by BBC presenter Andrew Neil of making “outrageous smears” and peddling “outright lies” about Corbyn.