Birmingham MP Gisela Stuart has donated £100 to a fighting fund set up by Labour MPs supporting Phil Woolas, who was expelled from the Commons after a court found he deliberately lied about his Liberal Democrat rival.
The cash was provided to help fund Mr Woolas’ attempt to fight an Election Court’s decision to overturn his narrow general election victory in Oldham East.
Ms Stuart (Lab Edgbaston) is one of a number of MPs backing Mr Woolas, a former immigration minister, in an affair which has sparked a bitter civil war within Labour.
The party was engulfed in internal feuding during a week which saw a major student protest against tuition fees, an important Commons vote on cuts to housing benefit and the publication of controversial reforms to the benefits system.
Birmingham Selly Oak MP Steve McCabe (Lab) was one of a number of backbenchers to confront Harriet Harman, Labour’s Deputy Leader, after she publicly declared that Mr Woolas would not be allowed to return as a Labour MP even if his legal battle was successful.
Mr McCabe, a former Labour whip, rounded on Ms Harman at a bad-tempered meeting of the Labour Parliamentary Party. The event, in a Commons committee room, was meant to be private but details were leaked.
Ms Harman’s husband, Erdington MP Jack Dromey, was also sucked into the row when he took to the television studios to defend her. He said: “I think Ed Miliband and Harriet have done absolutely the right thing. It is no part of our politics to tell lies, to fan prejudice to win votes. What happened was wrong.”
But this sparked a backlash among Labour MPs who accused Ms Harman of suggesting, through her husband, that Labour leader Ed Miliband had agreed to disown Mr Woolas.
Meanwhile, Labour backbenchers rallied round their former colleague and attempted to raise the cash he will need to pay for his legal challenge.
Mr Woolas was stripped of his seat and banned from standing for election for three years by the specially-convened Election Court in the first such judgment for 99 years. It heard he stirred up racial tensions in a desperate bid to retain his seat which he eventually won by 103 votes.
Officially, Labour is refusing to support Mr Woolas’ appeal after Ms Harman told BBC interviewer Andrew Marr that it was “not part of Labour’s politics for somebody to be telling lies to get themselves elected”.
But backbenchers are trying to raise the cash he needs to fight the case.
Mrs Stuart said she had donated £100. She said: “He has got a right to go through the legal process. Once it is completed then we all must accept the result.”
Asked if he had made a donation, Steve McCabe (Lab Hall Green) declined to comment.
Khalid Mahmood (Lab Perry Barr) said he had not yet made a donation but would do so. He said: “He has a right to appeal and I would like to support him as well.”
Other Birmingham Labour MPs who responded to requests for a comment included Shabana Mahmood (Lab Ladywood), Roger Godsiff (Lab Hall Green) and Richard Burden (Lab Northfield), who all said they had not made donations.
Some Labour figures have privately expressed concern that Mr Woolas’ supporters leave the party open to claims that it supports the divisive campaigning style used by Mr Woolas in the general election.