Neil Coyle has Labour whip restored after suspension for drunken encounters

Labour MP Neil Coyle speaking to the media outside Portcullis House, London (Jonathan Brady/PA)
Labour MP Neil Coyle speaking to the media outside Portcullis House, London (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Neil Coyle has had the Labour whip restored after he was suspended for two verbally abusive drunken encounters on the Parliamentary estate.

Opposition chief whip Alan Campbell told the MP that “drinking does not in any way excuse the behaviour” but the party recognises his efforts to address his problematic conduct, Labour sources said.

Mr Campbell told a Parliamentary Labour Party committee meeting on Wednesday that Mr Coyle has undertaken two programmes regarding managing alcohol since his suspension and stopped drinking entirely.

Shadow cabinet reshuffle
Labour MP Neil Coyle has had the whip restored (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark had the whip removed last year following an incident in the Strangers’ Bar in the Commons in which he was said to have made racist comments towards political journalist Henry Dyer.

Mr Dyer, who is British-Chinese, said the MP had made Sinophobic remarks which made him feel uncomfortable.

The Independent Expert Panel, which reviews complaints of bullying and harassment made against MPs, later recommended he face a five-day suspension.

Its published report found he broke the rules in two drunken encounters – in one with “foul-mouthed and drunken abuse” of another MP’s assistant and in another with the language targeted Mr Dyer.

Both incidents investigated under Parliament’s Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS) occurred in the Strangers’ Bar in the Commons.

On February 1 last year, Mr Coyle and a group including the reporter were discussing Labour MP Barry Gardiner, who received donations from a woman later revealed by MI5 to be a Chinese spy.

Mr Coyle suggested his colleague was being paid by “Fu Manchu”, a fictional Chinese “supervillain”, before Mr Dyer explained he is half-Chinese.

Mr Coyle told the journalist he could tell from how he looked that he had been giving renminbi, the Chinese currency, to Mr Gardiner.

Later, leaving the bar, Mr Dyer sought to defuse the situation by waving goodbye to Mr Coyle.

Mr Coyle was found to have put two fingers up at the reporter in response.

Mr Coyle, who has spoken about quitting alcohol for a year and has pleaded for Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer to readmit him to the parliamentary party, accepted he was “drunk” on both occasions.

In an apology in the Commons, Mr Coyle said he was “ashamed” of his behaviour and said the intervention had “quite possibly saved my life” by compelling him to stop drinking.