Gerard Coyne, who is challenging Len McCluskey to lead Unite, has been suspended from his job with the union.

The move has been confirmed by his spokesman, although Unite has so far made no comment.

It is understood that an email was sent to members and staff in the West Midlands on Thursday afternoon, telling them that Mr Coyne had been suspended from his job as West Midlands Regional Secretary.

It comes as ballot papers begin to be counted in the election for the general secretary of Unite, the country’s biggest union.

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