LABOUR'S chief whip has stood down after an internal party row over the group's leadership spilled into the public arena last month.

Cllr Kevin McKeon quit the top job after speaking out against his leader's decision to sack the deputy planning chief in what was understood to be a punishment for disloyalty.

Now, the outgoing chief whip, and three other councillors caught up in the feud, could be kicked out of the group – a decision which the new chief whip Cllr Hamid Khurram will make.

A new deputy group leader will also be chosen later this month as Cllr Ebrahim Adia steps down to take a senior role at an NHS trust.

The changes comes after a vote of no confidence in the group's current leadership was passed at a local party meeting.

Labour leader Linda Thomas then removed Cllr Hanif Darvesh from his role – a decision she described as a “personal matter” between the two of them.

But Cllr McKeon asked for support from opposing parties to keep Cllr Darvesh in his position as the planning committee vice-chair in the council chambers last month and, together with three others, voted against the ex-council leader's recommendation.

Cllr Thomas criticised the outgoing chief whip, saying that he must explain his actions to the party.

He said: "At the last full council meeting I publicly disagreed with Cllr Thomas’ recommendation to council that Cllr Hanif Darvesh be removed as vice-chair of the planning committee. I felt that my inability to support the leader on such an issue meant that it was right for me to resign my position as chief whip."

Any disciplinary action will now be the gift of Cllr Khurram who was appointed the new chief whip on Thursday night.

The 36-year-old solicitor, who was elected in Harper Green last year, said that no decisions about the four rebels have been made yet but confirmed that he would look into the matter.

He said: "Everything has its process. We would investigate the matter and then make a decision. We can only start the investigation when we get a proper complaint from someone."

Councillors Martin McMulkin, Bilkis Ismail and Champak Mistry were the only members to side with Cllr McKeon in the council chambers last month.

One senior Labour figure spoke of an attempt by Momentum, a left-wing faction of the party, to oust moderate Labour politicians – but these allegations have been denied.