Labour Staff 'Upset' At Vice News Jeremy Corbyn Documentary Over Accusations Of Leaks To Tories

Iain McNicol writes to Labour staff following Seumas Milne's claim
Jeremy Corbyn's communications director Seumas Milne
Jeremy Corbyn's communications director Seumas Milne

Labour's general secretary has leapt to the defence of party staff after a senior Jeremy Corbyn aide appeared to blame them for leaking information that helped the Tories.

Iain McNicol has written to staff to reassure them their work is not "unappreciated" despite the hints in a Vice News documentary about the Labour leader.

In the film, 'Corbyn: The Outsider', released today, Corbyn's director of communications, Seumas Milne, suggests there is a mole in the party who leaks secret preparations for the weekly Prime Minister's Question time.

In an email sent to Labour staff this afternoon - and seen by The Huffington Post - McNicol praises their "professionalism" and recognises many are "upset" by the accusation.

"Every day, including weekends and bank holidays, you work to put our values in to action and for that I am extremely grateful and in awe of your sheer ability to get things done," he says.

He adds: "I know this matter has upset a great many of you."

Staff have demanded a meeting with their trade union reps - the Unite and GMB-represented 'Joint Trade Union Committee' (JTUC) - to raise the issue.

Email from Iain McNicol to Labour staff

Dear all

I wanted to write to you personally regarding the article in today’s Times “Corbyn spin doctor accuses Labour staff of PMQs leaks”and in light of the recent fly-on-the-wall documentary entitled "Corbyn: The Outsider".
As many of you know, I was elected as the General Secretary of our Party in 2011.

Over the last five years I have seen first-hand the dedication, commitment and professionalism displayed by Party staff on a daily basis. As I have said on a number of occasions, I am incredibly proud of the work that you do, whether with elected representatives, activists and members to campaign and win elections, dealing with members of the public who contact us, or making sure our movement reacts quickly and effectively to the disastrous decisions of this dreadful Tory Government, to name but a few.

Every day, including weekends and bank holidays, you work to put our values in to action and for that I am extremely grateful and in awe of your sheer ability to get things done.

I wanted you to know, directly, that your work does not go unappreciated or unnoticed. A couple of Conferences ago I said that we were a 'movement on the march'. Every single one of you is an integral and vital part of that march.

I know this matter has upset a great many of you and I am meeting with the JTUC this afternoon to discuss it.

Thank you.

In the Vice News documentary, Milne reveals he suspects someone in Labour is leaking details of Corbyn's PMQs preparation to David Cameron.

"This time they did (know the questions) because it leaked. It leaked from that meeting," he said.

'It’s very annoying because it only happens about a third of the time, but it obviously gives them a little bit of extra time. Whenever there is a leak it gives them that advantage - it gives them the advantage on TV as well."

Sources insisted to the Times today that Milne was not pointing the finger at anyone in Corbyn's team, and was instead 'observing that information was leaked to journalists when staff from Labour headquarters attended the preparations for PMQs'.

This was the insinuation that has incensed party staff, given that often there are only two Labour HQ staff present at the briefing.

Party sources have suggested to HuffPost that it was wrong to blame Labour staff for what was often media guesswork about what Corbyn will ask Cameron each week.

But allies of the leadership insist that Milne was 'not pointing the finger at anyone'.

HuffPost understands that the senior leadership team for PMQs - the inner circle who conduct the main part of their preparation meetings - are all 'completely trusted' by Corbyn not to leak.


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