Neil Coyle has had the Labour whip suspended after facing claims that he made racist comments to a British reporter of Chinese descent at a bar in parliament last Tuesday (February 1).
A spokesperson for the party said: “The Labour Party expects the highest standards of behaviour from all our MPs and we take allegations of this sort very seriously. Accordingly the Chief Whip has now suspended the Labour whip from Neil Coyle pending an investigation.”
The Bermondsey and Old Southwark MP allegedly said that fellow Labour MP Barry Gardiner, who reportedly received money from a suspected Chinese spy, had been “paid by Fu Manchu”, according to Henry Dyer, a Business Insider reporter with Chinese heritage.
Dyer said in a personal account for Business Insider that this comment was “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.”
He challenged Coyle, who allegedly then asked him if he was being over-sensitive and offered to apologise if this was not the case. The MP then said he had relatives of Chinese descent, according to Dyer’s account.
Dyer told Coyle he was British-Chinese, to which Coyle allegedly said this was obvious “from how you look like you’ve been giving Renminbi to Barry Gardiner”.
Dyer reported his experiences to the parliamentary authorities, who have banned Coyle from parliamentary bars during the investigation into this claim, and another alleged incident where Coyle shouted at a Labour staff member, as we have reported.
Liberal Democrat councillor for London Bridge and West Bermondsey Humaira Ali, who lost to Coyle in the 2019 general election, called for him to resign.
She branded his “appalling appalling” behaviour “racist”, adding that he was “demeaning and a bully”.
A spokesperson for the Labour Party said it was aware of the claims, adding: “The Labour Party expects the highest standards of behaviour from all our MPs and we take any allegations of this sort very seriously.”
Coyle apologised, saying: “I’m very sorry for my insensitive comments, have apologised to everyone involved and will be cooperating fully with the investigation.
“I hope to prove my Labour values once again and look forward to spending more time in the constituency until the investigation concludes.”
In the first alleged incident, Coyle was accused of shouting “f*ck you” at a Labour aide in a parliamentary bar after they claimed Brexit had not been a disaster for the UK.
When a Tory MP tried to intervene, Coyle allegedly replied: “F**k off and lose some weight.”
In response to our initial enquiries, Coyle said he was “not allowed to talk” about the first incident, as it is currently subject to an investigation.