Recriminations are growing over the way Michael Meacher lost the chance to go forward as candidate of the left to challenge Gordon Brown for the Labour leadership, evidence seen by the Guardian shows. Mr Meacher, the former environment minister, stepped aside to allow John McDonnell to be the standard bearer for the left, only for his rival to fail to garner enough support to make it on to the ballot paper.

With questions growing about the failed campaign, two MPs originally claimed by Mr McDonnell to be supporters have denied ever nominating him. Papers seen by the Guardian show that the McDonnell camp had claimed the support of Jon Trickett, Labour MP for Hemsworth.

But Mr Trickett said yesterday: "I nominated Gordon Brown for the leadership and never nominated anyone else." If Mr Trickett's name had not appeared as a supporter of Mr McDonnell at an initial meeting between the two camps, Mr Meacher would have had one more nomination than Mr McDonnell, and would have gone forward as the candidate of the left.

Mr Meacher has written to Peter Watt, Labour's general secretary, to ask him to investigate how the error occurred. Mr Watt may refuse to intervene on the grounds that the deal between Mr McDonnell and Mr Meacher was a private matter. Last week it was disclosed that Mr McDonnell's camp had claimed the support of Bradford West MP Marsha Singh. Mr Singh then insisted that he had only nominated Mr Meacher, and was adamant that he had never signed any nomination paper in support of Mr McDonnell.

At the first meeting of the two camps last week, it was agreed that that the two men had 22 nominations each. The two camps reconvened last Monday, by which time Mr McDonnell had apparently secured a decisive 24-21 lead.

A spokesman for Mr McDonnell's campaign said: "I don't know anything about that [Trickett]. The process was agreed and completely accepted by both campaigns and the two sets of supporters.

"There was no dispute over the fact that John was the candidate who had the majority of support. Our feeling is that people are trying to create some mischief."



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