Public criticism of Labour Party staff unacceptable - Jeremy Corbyn
Jeremy Corbyn has said Labour Party staff must not be used as a "political football" during the bitter leadership contest.
Senior figures at Labour headquarters, including general secretary Iain McNicol, have come under fire over their handling of the contest between Mr Corbyn and Owen Smith.
Supporters of the leader have hit out at the rules governing the election and Mr Corbyn's camp is also reported to be considering a shake-up of Labour's HQ to tighten his grip on the party machine.
In a message to staff, Mr Corbyn insisted public criticism of staff was "totally unacceptable" as he acknowledged that "recent events have not been easy for our party".
Meanwhile, Mr Smith said "this has been an awful and hugely divisive time for the party", but insisted he would be able to unite Labour if he won the leadership race.
In his message to staff, Mr Corbyn said: " There is no doubt that recent events have not been easy for our party.
"From the shock of losing the European Union referendum to the recent internal divisions, and, most of all, the tragic loss of our wonderful colleague, Jo Cox.
"Despite this, what has constantly shone through is the dedication and professionalism of our party staff.
" I am not telling you anything new when I say that working in politics can be stressful at times.
"However, this has been sometimes exacerbated by attacks on individuals or groups of staff in the national media.
"In my own view, that is totally unacceptable. It is only right that elected politicians recognise that, as party staff, you do not have the right of reply in the media and often have to operate in a political landscape over which you have limited control.
"You, therefore, must not be used as a political football by anybody within the party.
"I hope you all feel that if you are put in difficult or unacceptable circumstances, you can raise the issue with your line manager, other senior member of staff or your trade union representatives."
The message came as Mr Corbyn was embroiled in a row with Virgin Trains over his claim he was forced to sit on the floor because of "completely ram-packed" carriages on a service.
The company released CCTV footage appearing to show Mr Corbyn walking past empty seats before he was filmed on the floor.