Triumph for McCluskey as Coyne loses legal battle

Unite's Len McCluskey has triumphed over challenger Gerard Coyne in a legal battle over last year's general secretary election.

Gerard Coyne, the Unite official who challenged Len McCluskey last year for the leadership of Britain’s biggest union, has lost his lengthy legal battle to force the election to be rerun.

The Certification Officer, the official who oversees union elections, today rejected Coyne’s complaints about the conduct of Unite during last year’s campaign.

The ruling brings the long-running battle for control of Unite to an end over a year since McCluskey survived a huge scare by narrowly defeating Coyne in an election his supporters assumed he would win easily.

The Unite leader won 59,067 votes (45.4%) compared with Coyne’s 53,544 (41.5%) on a turnout of just over 12% – a far closer result than expected.

Coyne, who was sacked by Unite after standing against McCluskey, has spent many months trying to get the election re-run following a campaign that thrust the former West Midlands regional secretary into the national political spotlight.

Coyne ran on a ticket of returning Unite to its members – although he was also regarded as skeptical about Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of Labour.

McCluskey’s narrow win was a victory for Corbyn. Unite has backed Corbyn throughout his tumultuous time as leader.

The decision not to uphold any of Coyne’s numerous complaints is a blow to Coyne and his supporters.

But the battle for control of the union is certain to erupt all over again soon ahead of another contest for the General Secretary position which must be held every five years.

A number of McCluskey’s protoges, including Howard Beckett and Steve Turner, are already jostling to succeed him and have been seeking to raise their profile in recent months by appearing on the media. Beckett was recently made Unite’s acting regional director in the West Midlands – the job Coyne used to hold.

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