John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, has apologised for the release of a list of MPs accused of abusing Jeremy Corbyn and his allies.
The list, which was compiled by the party leader's team and sent to the Press Association last night, described leadership contender Owen Smith as "the real disunity candidate" and named 14 MPs.
Two MPs have made formal complaints, with one MP saying the list's existence amounted to "harassment and bullying".
McDonnell told journalists in central London that he was "furious" the list had been released: “We’ve apologised – it was just inappropriate," he said, adding that it had come at a time when "we were, I think, really rebuilding relationships, very, very well."
He went on: “One of our researchers saw a bit of incoming flak and did a list of all the statements that had been made by MPs, some of which were not particularly kind, put it that way."
His apology was not met warmly by Michael Dugher MP.
Among those named were Jess Phillips, who is said to have told Corbyn's ally Diane Abbott to "fuck off", and John Woodcock, who described Corbyn as a "fucking disaster". Philips tweeted that she had received hate mail shortly after the list was released.
The release, which was apparently put out by mistake by a junior press officer, urged Smith to "explicitly condemn those who have threatened to split the party and tear it apart, as well as condemn the abuse instigated by his high-profile supporters".
Other MPs named included Ian Austin, Jamie Reed, Tom Blenkinsop, Ben Bradshaw, Frank Field, Anna Turley, Karl Turner, and Stephen Kinnock. The party's deputy leader, Tom Watson, who was also on the list for calling the pro-Corbyn group Momentum a rabble, said he had received an apology.
The MP for Southwark, Neil Coyle, who was also named, tweeted a furious response to the list.
Coyle has said he will be speaking to his lawyers about possible defamation. There was also an angry response from Woodcock.
The list was released just hours before a Sky News debate between Corbyn and Smith. Smith described it as a “deselection list” that activists would use to target MPs.
“You talk about trying to unite the party, but I find that quite hard to reconcile with something your campaign did just this evening, which was to publish a list, a deselection list if you like, of … MPs,” he said.
Corbyn replied: “There was information put out there, which is statements made by colleagues on the record and is all out there in the public domain."
Alan White is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
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