Labour supporters will be stripped of their vote in the party's leadership election if they are caught carrying out abusive behaviour, Iain McNicol has warned. The Labour general secretary issued the caution as MPs and activists complain of online trolling and other threatening behaviour towards them.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and his sole challenger Owen Smith have condemned the bullying, but McNicol has outlined this new measure in a bid to stamp out the bad behaviour.

"Words of condemnation are meaningless unless they are backed up by action," the party grandee declared, in a statement today (25 July).

"The NEC has already taken the difficult decision to suspend most Party meetings while the Leadership election is ongoing. And over the coming days and weeks the Party will be taking further action to protect our members and to identify those responsible for this appalling behaviour.

"I want to be clear, if you are a member and you engage in abusive behaviour towards other members it will be investigated and you could be suspended while that investigation is carried out. If you are a registered supporter or affiliated supporter and you engage in abusive behaviour you will not get a vote in this Leadership election."

McNicol urged people to send reports of abusive behaviour to validation@labour.org.uk.

He added: "Choosing our candidate to be the next Labour Prime Minister is a great responsibility on us all.

"We owe it to the millions of people who need the Labour Party to fight for them, to conduct our Leadership election in a way that gives them confidence in our ability to build a better Britain."

More than 180,000 people have paid £25 to Labour in a bid to become an affiliated supporter and have a say in the election, which will conclude on 24 September when a winner is announced.

A Labour spokeswoman declined to comment on the party's investigation process, but told IBTimes UK: "We've got a robust system in place. The Labour Party would stop anyone from voting who was a registered or affiliate supporter."

The development comes after 44 female Labour MPs wrote an open letter to Corbyn highlighting the issue of "escalating abuse". Elsewhere, Corbyn's office was forced to deny a plan to "pressure" Labour whip Conor McGinn through his Sinn Fein father after he made critical comments of the Labour leader.