Commenting, acting general secretary Gail Cartmail said:
“I am compelled to respond to the statement issued by Gerard Coyne today regarding the funding of Sion Simon’s mayoralty campaign in the West Midlands.
“First I must make it clear that the decision not to offer Mr Simon’s campaign financial support at this stage was taken by myself. Len McCluskey has had no part in this decision and has not been consulted on it. The matter is ultimately the responsibility of Unite’s Executive Council, which meets next week and to whom this will be reported. The final decision rests there.
“However, Unite has been provided with overwhelming evidence that Mr Simon’s campaign and Mr Coyne’s campaign have entered into some form of a mutual support arrangement, which has included the shared use of Labour Party membership data.
“The Labour Party has acknowledged that this has happened, that it was unauthorised and that it should be halted. It is as far as I know unprecedented for a Labour Party campaign to seek an agreement for support not with an affiliated trade union but with an individual himself campaigning for elected office within that union.
“However, neither Mr Simon nor Mr Coyne have explained the nature of their agreement, what provisions it might include, nor how and why it was arrived at.
“Under these circumstances, Unite cannot make a donation to Mr Simon’s campaign, since there are no guarantees that such money would not be used to support Mr Coyne’s campaign and thereby interfere in Unite’s own democratic processes.
“Gerard Coyne is a candidate in the election for Unite’s General Secretary. He has every right to be such, and I am serving as Acting General Secretary in part to ensure the integrity of our election.
“However, if he wishes to assist Mr Simon in the West Midlands he would do better to cease issuing inaccurate press releases, but rather to help the union in getting to the bottom of this matter.”
For further information please contact Pauline Doyle on 07976 832 861
Notes to editors
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.