Labour MP says press coverage of Jeremy Corbyn is 'the demonisation of a decent man'

Labour MP Richard Burgon has said that press coverage of Jeremy Corbyn by "right-wing newspapers" is "the demonisation of a decent man".

He said the "billionaire press” attacked the Labour party leader because he “pursued policies that would take on the rigged economy".

Speaking at the Labour deputy leadership hustings in Liverpool, the shadow justice secretary said: "There is no city in this country that knows as much you do about how much newspapers like the right-wing Sun newspaper demonise decent people."

He was referring to the paper's notorious coverage of the Hillsborough disaster in 1989, in which 96 supporters were unlawfully killed.

Burgon, who is running for Labour deputy leader, said: "That's why I was proud to take the Sun newspaper to court, be cross-examined by them, defeating them and using the compensation money to set youth apprenticeships in Leeds.”

Jeremy Corbyn, right, sits next to shadow home secretary Diane Abbott and Richard Burgon, left, at a rally in Hastings last year. (Getty)

Burgon, the MP for Leeds East since 2016, won damages of £30,000 in his libel case against the paper last year over a claim that a heavy metal band he performed with used Nazi-influenced imagery.

In April 2017, it published an article entitled “Reich and Roll: Labour’s justice boss ridiculed after he joins a heavy metal band that used Nazi symbols” in its logo.

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It alleged that a Twitter post by the band, Dream Tröll, used the lightning bolt “S” from the logo of notorious Nazi paramilitary organisation the SS.

The court ruled that the tweet’s font was in fact a spoof of the cover of Black Sabbath's 1975 album We Sold Our Soul For Rock 'n' Roll.

Hustings: Richard Burgon said that press coverage of Jeremy Corbyn by 'right-wing newspapers' is 'the demonisation of a decent man'. (Facebook)

During the trial, the Sun’s publisher News Group Newspapers tried to justify the importance of the story by drawing connections to claims of antisemitism in the Labour party.

In a statement, The Sun said it was "deeply disappointed" by the judgement.

Burgon’s latest comments come after he and fellow Labour MP Dawn Butler, also in the running for deputy Labour leader, were criticised by some members after telling the hustings they would not be backing a set of anti-Semitism pledges issued by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, according to the Mirror.

The Sun's cover on election day 2017. (The Sun)

He said: "I will support the leader in fighting anti-Semitism in our party and fighting anti-Semitism in society. I do believe, obviously, in working with the Board of Deputies in the fight against anti-Semitism. I have not signed and won't be signing the 10 pledges, however, because of some concerns I have.”

He said he was concerned about outsourcing Labour’s complaints procedure and how that would work in practice and that “the minorities within a minority, like LGBT Jewish people, black Jewish peoples’ voices need to be heard as well”.