July 20, 2024

Labour MP Neil Coyle today apologised after he had the whip suspended over allegations he launched a racially-charged rant at a British-Chinese journalist in a Parliamentary bar.

The Bermondsey & Old Southwark MP said he was ‘very sorry’ for his ‘insensitive comments’ and would cooperate fully with an investigation launched by the party.

Henry Dyer, a political journalist for Insider, has said Mr Coyle joked about ‘Fu Manchu’ and made disparaging remarks about his heritage during a conversation in Strangers’ Bar at Parliament on February 1.

He is also alleged to have berated a Labour aide about Brexit in a foul-mouthed tirade at the same venue the previous evening – and has been banned from the Commons bars.

In a statement today, Mr Coyle said: ‘I’m very sorry for my insensitive comments, have apologised to everyone involved and will be co-operating fully with the investigation.’

A Labour spokesman said: ‘The Labour Party expects the highest standards of behaviour from all our MPs and we take allegations of this sort very seriously.

Mr Coyle has been suspended from House of Commons bars after the claims and a separate episode the previous day when he allegedly launched a foul-mouthed anti-Brexit rant in Westminster’s famous Strangers’ Bar.

It is understood that after Speaker Lindsay Hoyle became aware of Mr Dyer’s allegations, he convened a meeting with the Serjeant at Arms who ordered that Mr Coyle should be suspended from bars in the Commons for six months.

Authorities in the House of Lords are believed to have taken similar action.

Mr Dyer, who is British-Chinese, said he came into contact with Mr Coyle in Strangers’ Bar on the evening of Tuesday February 1, after going for Chinese New Year dinner with his family.

He accused the MP of making Sinophobic remarks, which he said made him feel uncomfortable.

Mr Dyer said that Mr Coyle came to speak to him and a group of other journalists on the Tuesday, and the conversation turned to fellow Labour MP Barry Gardiner, after he it emerged he had unwittingly received funding from a Chinese spy.

Mr Coyle allegedly made a remark that Mr Gardiner had been in the pay of ‘Fu Manchu’.

Mr Dyer said the comment ‘struck me at the time as not right, given it had been well reported who had been giving Gardiner money, and so there was no need to refer to a 20th Century trope of a Chinese supervillain’.

In an account posted online, the journalist said that when he ‘gently pushed back’ Mr Coyle suggested he was being ‘over-sensitive’, before ‘saying that he would apologise if he had said something bad and it wasn’t just me being sensitive, which I believe was insincere’.

Accordingly the Chief Whip has now suspended the Labour whip from Neil Coyle pending an investigation.’

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