• Challenge says Corbyn needs backing of more than 50 MPs to run
  • Corbyn lawyer says committee vote allowing campaign must stand

Jeremy Corbyn shouldn’t have been allowed to automatically stand for re-election to the Labour Party leadership, and must seek the backing of more than 50 lawmakers like any other hopeful, lawyers said at the start of a London hearing challenging party rules.

The National Executive Committee, the party’s governing body, was wrong in its rule interpretation during a vote in favor of allowing the current leader to stand automatically, according to documents prepared for the hearing by Gavin Millar, a lawyer for Labour member Michael Foster who is making the claim. 

Foster doesn’t want to deny Corbyn "a fair opportunity, which can be achieved in this way, of obtaining the requisite number of nominations," Millar said.

Corbyn lost the confidence of the bulk of his colleagues in parliament but has refused to stand down, citing the overwhelming support from members during the party’s leadership election in September. He faces a leadership challenge from his former work and pensions spokesman, Owen Smith.

The NEC’s decision was "plainly right," Martin Westgate, a lawyer representing Corbyn said in court documents. The threshold of nominations doesn’t apply to him as he is the current leader, Westgate said.

"The conclusion reached by the NEC is entitled to great respect and the court should not interfere with it," Westgate said. Corbyn wasn’t present in court.

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