25/07/2016 12:22 BST | Updated 25/07/2016 12:23 BST

Labour Members Warned To Stop 'Abusive' Behaviour Or Be Banned From Leadership Contest

MPs have demanded Jeremy Corbyn act

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Labour members have been warned they will be banned from voting in the party’s leadership election if they are found to have been engaged in “abusive” behaviour.

In a statement issued on Monday morning, the party’s general secretary Iain McNicol said he would be taking “further action” to protect MPs.

Jeremy Corbyn has been told to do more to stop the “disgusting and totally unacceptable” abuse of female Labour MPs, who say they have faced mounting harassment as the leadership race gets underway.

Corbyn is battling to see off a challenge from former work and pensions secretary Owen Smith.

McNicol said today: “For a fair debate to take place, people must be able to air their views in an atmosphere of respect. They shouldn’t be shouted down, they shouldn’t be intimidated and they shouldn’t be abused, either in meetings or online.

“Put plainly, there is simply too much of it taking place and it needs to stop.”

McNicol said Corbyn, Smith, deputy leader Tom Watson and the party’s ruling NEC had been “very clear” that there is “no place for abuse of any kind in the party”.

“However words of condemnation are meaningless unless they are backed up by action,” he said.

“The NEC has already taken the difficult decision to suspend most Party meetings while the Leadership election is ongoing. And over the coming days and weeks the Party will be taking further action to protect our members and to identify those responsible for this appalling behaviour.

“I want to be clear, if you are a member and you engage in abusive behaviour towards other members it will be investigated and you could be suspended while that investigation is carried out.

“If you are a registered supporter or affiliated supporter and you engage in abusive behaviour you will not get a vote in this Leadership election.”

In his statement, McNicol encourages people to report any abuse by emailing validation@labour.org.uk.

Following McNicol’s statement, Labour MP Paula Sherriff criticised Corbyn for not replying to her letter about the abuse faced by MPs.

”The culture of hatred and division that is being sown does not benefit anyone,” the letter said.

“We understand that the leadership does not have total control over those who choose to threaten and abuse others but that does not mean more cannot be done to safeguard our female colleagues."

On Saturday, Corbyn told a packed audience at The Lowry in Salford he appreciated there was “anger” at the MPs trying to unseat him but said the campaign should have 'no coups, no intimidation, no abuse"

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