Wednesday 21 March 2018

Jeremy Corbyn held back by aides after furious confrontation with reporter

Asked if he was 'running away' from Labour crisis

Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn Photo: REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn Photo: REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

Michael Wilkinson, Christopher Hope and Tim Ross

BRITISH Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn came under renewed criticism last night after he was seen being held back by aides as he appeared to lunge at a reporter during a rally in his constituency.

The confrontation came as it was revealed that Mr Corbyn’s aides are deliberately refusing to allow him to speak to other MPs.

Pressure on the Labour leader to resign intensified after an independent poll found that most members of Unite, one of his biggest union supporters and a major Labour donor, want him to quit before the next election.

The latest row happened at a community event at a “Say No to Hate Crime” rally organised by the local Labour party at Highbury Fields in his Islington constituency in north London.

Mr Corbyn had to be held back by aides after he lost his temper with a television reporter when asked if he was "running away" from answering questions about his beleaguered leadership.

A video published on the internet shows the reporter asking: “Mr Corbyn when are you going to stand down? How much longer can you stay?” Another asks: “Are you running away from the media?” as he walks away.

A visibly angry Mr Corbyn then appeared to lunge in the journalist’s direction in front of camera crews and photographers, saying: “If you want to arrange an interview speak to my press office. Thank you.”

An aide then restrains the Labour leader, saying to him: “Jeremy, please don’t, please don’t.”

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Julian Andrews, one of the photographers who witnessed the altercation, said: "There were three or four cameras crews and a handful of photographers.

“Everyone had been told that he wasn't answering questions. He was walking backing to his car when it happened.

"The reporter asked him if he was running away and he completely fired up. He swung around and made his way to confront her but two or three aides carried him away. He was really p***** off.”

One Labour party source admitted that Mr Corbyn “was frustrated, he had enough” of repeated questions at the community event which was basically “a gazebo on Highbury Fields”.

One television journalist had allegedly pushed the camera “in his face and I think he just has had enough of being pushed around”. Mr Corbyn is known to be very frustrated with the media attention that comes with his position.

The television reporter involved in the incident - Victoria Macdonald, Channel Four News’ Health and Social affairs correspondent - denied that she had been “lunged at” by the Labour leader.

She wrote in a post on Twitter: “He was angry yes but contrary to reports I didn't feel 'lunged at.”

The flashpoint came after Mr Corbyn reportedly arrived 10 minutes late at a Somme centenary on Friday, used his mobile phone, and then left before the end of the service.

Mr Corbyn, whose opposition to war is well-documented, is understood not to have been on the guest list of the Somme Association event in France.

Observers said the Labour chief arrived 10 minutes after the ceremony began. One told the Belfast Telegraph: “He slipped up the side of the main body of people who were there and stood for part of the service.

“But he didn't even stay until the end. He made his way out before the commemoration was over.”

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