CORBYN THE FIRST CLASS HYPOCRITE He says he was forced to sit on floor of ‘ram-packed’ train Virgin hits back with CCTV of the Labour leader in a seat
JEREMY Corbyn’s credibility was in shreds last night after CCTV suggested he lied about having to sit on the floor of a train.
In a highly unusual move, Virgin Trains published images flatly contradicting his claim that there were no free seats.
The Labour leader, who boasts of his ‘straight-talking politics’, had told a documentary crew filming him on the floor that the ‘ ram-packed’ service highlighted the need to renationalise the railways. But security cameras show that only minutes earlier he had walked past empty – and unreserved – seats.
And he can be seen taking one of the seats after the interview finished.
Rail minister Paul Maynard accused Mr Corbyn of carrying out a dishonest stunt to advance his political agenda. Will Quince, a Tory member of the Commons transport committee, said: ‘This makes Mr Corbyn look grossly hypocritical. His supporters like to paint him as a genuine man but this stunt is clearly not genuine.
‘There is no question that lots of commuters are unable to get seats on trains at peak time. But what they want is action, rather than politicians trying to score points. I thought Mr Corbyn was better than this.’
Labour’s former deputy leader Harriet Harman said she was baffled by the incident. ‘There is a case for more public control or ownership of the railways, but you build that case on the forensic facts and figures not by sitting outside a toilet in a railway carriage,’ she said.
‘He’s got a campaign team – you would have thought they would have booked him a seat.’
Virgin’s decision to publish its CCTV footage appears to have been authorised personally by co-owner Richard Branson. The billionaire posted images
on his own Twitter feed, saying Mr Corbyn walked past empty unreserved seats.
Labour spokesmen last night insisted he had been unable to find unreserved seats when he boarded the 11am King’s Cross to Newcastle service on August 11.
But a CCTV picture of Mr Corbyn timed at 11.07am showed him walking through coach H, in which there appeared to be at least ten empty, unreserved seats. He was spotted again a minute later as he walked through coach F, past numerous seats that had reservation tickets but were empty.
Mr Corbyn could then be seen walking to the end of the train where he sat on the floor in a corridor.
At 11.29am he filmed a short interview later published on the Labour-supporting Guardian newspaper website.
In it he said: ‘This is a problem that many passengers face every day, commuters and long-distance travellers. Today this train is completely ram-packed.’
At 11.43am, Mr Corbyn was caught on CCTV again, this time taking a seat back in coach H – more than an hour before the train made its first scheduled stop in York.
A spokesman for Virgin Trains said: ‘We have to take issue with the idea that Mr Corbyn wasn’t able to be seated on the service, as this clearly wasn’t the case.’
In a statement last night, a spokesman for Mr Corbyn insisted he had not lied, saying: ‘When Jeremy boarded the train he was unable to find unreserved seats, so he sat with other passengers in the corridor who were also unable to find a seat.
‘ Later in the journey, seats became available after a family were upgraded to first class, and Jeremy and the team he was travelling with were offered the seats by a very helpful member of staff.
‘Passengers across Britain will have been in similar situations on overcrowded, expensive trains. That is why our policy to bring the trains back into public ownership, as part of a plan to rebuild and transform Britain, is so popular with passengers and rail workers.’
A Labour source last night told the Guardian that Mr Corbyn’s recollection was that there were no vacant pairs of seats, and he wanted to sit next to his wife, Laura, for the journey.
Some passengers are said to have had their bags on seats.
The source said Mr Corbyn rejected the offer of a complimentary upgrade to first class. Staff then upgraded a family to first class so Corbyn and his team could take their seats.
Virgin Trains confirmed that two passengers were moved to first class so that Mr Corbyn could sit next to his aide. A spokesman added: ‘We’d encourage Jeremy to book ahead next time he travels with us, both to reserve a seat and to ensure he gets our lowest fares, and we look forward to welcoming him on board again.’
Mr Corbyn’s interview on the train floor was recorded by freelance film-maker Yannis Mendez, who is making a documentary about his campaign to retain the Labour leadership.
His Twitter profile says he is a contributor to the Guardian. An accompanying article for the Guardian was written by Charles Anthony, a freelance journalist.
Mr Anthony, an outspoken Corbyn supporter, yesterday leapt to the Labour leader’s defence, saying he had secured a seat only when other passengers got off.
He posted a number of messages on social media in response to the Virgin statement suggesting the company’s ‘clarification’ was politically motivated. He said: ‘Corbyn wants to renationalise their business. You do the math.’ Keren Har- rison, 45, chatted to the Labour leader when she saw him sitting on the floor and said staff had tried to help him.
Mrs Harrison, who is not a supporter of the party, said: ‘I spoke to him and then the staff came over and said “We’ll try and find you some seats, sir”. I don’t know if they would have done it for any other passenger – and off they went before coming back and offering him a seat in first class.’
In a jibe on Twitter, Mr Corbyn’s leadership rival Owen Smith said: ‘My campaign remains on track. Proud to be genuinely standing up for ordinary people.’
The inconvenient footage is unlikely to cost Mr Corbyn the support of militant rail workers bringing misery to millions.
The RMT union, which was in the wilderness for years under New Labour, is now firmly backing his stance on nationalisation and the right to strike.
It is at the centre of the chaos on the Southern network, where passengers have been subjected to strikes and disruption for months.
The situation is so bad some commuters have lost their jobs because they cannot get to work on time.
Earlier this month, Mr Corbyn gave his backing to the striking workers, who are locked in a bitter dispute over the role of conductors.
Southern passengers took to social media to mock Mr Corbyn, one saying: ‘You should have travelled with Southern Trains. Although there’s not even enough space to sit on the floor on them.’
‘Staff tried to help him’
Pose: Jeremy Corbyn sits on the floor of a London to Newcastle train in his clip, saying no seats were free and citing crowding as a reason for renationalising the railways, inset His video claim...
...and the CCTV reality 11.07 AM: Mr Corbyn, circled, is seen on Virgin Trains CCTV apparently walking past rows of empty, unreserved seats in coach H minutes before he was filmed on the floor
11.08 AM: Mr Corbyn’s face is clearly visible as he walks past more empty seats in coach F, which Virgin says were reserved, but only for later in the train’s journey to Newcastle
11.43 AM: The train firm’s footage appears to show the Labour leader returning to coach H and sitting down in one of the empty seats after he finished making his video