Labour MP suspended for harassing assistant and racially abusing journalist has whip restored

Labour MP suspended for harassing assistant and racially abusing journalist has whip restored
Labour MP suspended for harassing assistant and racially abusing journalist has whip restored 24 May 2023 11:15 AM: MP Neil Coyle has been allowed back into the parliamentary Labour Party after he was suspended for harassing an assistant and racially abusing a journalist.

Mr Coyle, the MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, was suspended from Labour last February following allegations he made racist comments to a journalist on the parliamentary estate - forcing him to sit as an independent in the Commons.

The politician, who was found to have breached parliament's bullying and harassment policy in a report published by parliament's Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (IGS), apologised for his "insensitive" remarks and has since been sober.

Sky News understands that Labour decided to restore the Labour whip to Mr Coyle due to his sobriety and the length of the suspension he served.

However, receiving the Labour whip back does not guarantee that Mr Coyle will be the party's chosen candidate going into the next election.

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The development comes just two months after the expert panel recommended Mr Coyle be suspended from the Commons for five days - which meant Mr Coyle had his pay suspended and was unable to vote and take part in debates.

It also follows the recent suspension of veteran Labour MP Diane Abbott, who was suspended from the party after she suggested Jewish people, Irish people and travellers do not face racism but instead suffer prejudice similar to "redheads".

The panel were alerted to two incidents involving Mr Coyle in February last year - both in the Commons' Strangers' Bar - in which it said the MP was drunk.


One was the "foul-mouthed and drunken abuse" of another Labour MP's assistant and the other was the racist abuse of the British-Chinese political journalist Henry Dyer the next night.

Image: Neil Coyle apologised in the Commons

The panel found Mr Coyle used "abusive language with racial overtones" towards Mr Dyer.

Mr Coyle, 44, admitted he was "drunk" on both occasions, the report said.

Following the incidents, Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle immediately suspended Mr Coyle from all parliament bars.

The MP issued a public apology in the Commons to fellow MPs, his constituents and the two complainants.

He said he was "ashamed of my conduct" and that it "should not have happened".

He also thanked the two complainants for having the courage to come forward and said it forced him to "recognise my drinking had become a dependency and to seek help".

Mr Coyle said without their intervention he would not have been able to stop drinking - which he did soon after the incidents - and doctors told him if he did not he could have had a stroke, or worse.

The MP has admitted he was drinking up to 16 pints of Stella Artois beer a night, including up to four lagers an hour in the Strangers' Bar every night.

Ms Abbott, who was elected as Britain's first black female MP in 1987, currently sits as an independent following her suspension from Labour.

The Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP had the Labour whip suspended following a letter in The Observer last month.

The MP wrote: "It is true that many types of white people with points of difference, such as redheads, can experience this prejudice," she said. "But they are not all their lives subject to racism."

Read more:
Who is Diane Abbott? From trailblazing MP to thorn in Labour's side
Tory MPs quitting the Commons are on average 15 years younger than Labour

Shortly after the letter was published, Ms Abbott issued a statement in which she apologised and said she wished to "wholly and unreservedly withdraw my remarks and disassociate myself from them".

Meanwhile, Labour recently restored the whip to Ealing Central and Acton MP Rupa Huq after she apologised for claiming that Kwasi Kwarteng, who was chancellor under Liz Truss, was "superficially" black.

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