Mail on Sunday takes down story claiming Chuka Umunna was member of 'shady' City 'den'

A Mail on Sunday story claiming that former Labour leadership contender Chuka Umunna MP was a member of a “shady” members-only “den” has been taken down from the paper’s website.

It follows a statement issued by the M Restaurant saying that Umunna never took up its "unilateral" offer to become a member of its VIP club.

The story appeared on 17 May after Umunna withdrew from the Labour leadership race.

Online it was headlined: “Exposed! Chuck-it-in Chuka’s shady secret: Labour MP belongs to members-only ‘den’ where he has his own £300 cognac locker and bar named after him”.

The article followed interviews given to M Restaurant staff about Umunna attended its opening in November 2014.

M Restaurant chief executive Martin Williams has issued a statement saying: “Some elements of the article were not accurately represented…

“Mr Umunna attended the opening of our restaurant at Threadneedle Walk on 12 November 2014. The opening was attend by a host of personalities from the world of business and finance – this was reported at the time by other newspapers. Following the opening of our restaurant Mr Umunna has not attended the restaurant. We are happy to clarify this.

“The article states that at the back of M Restaurant’s Threadneedle venue there is a members-only ‘den; of which Mr Umunna is a member. It stated that he has been given ‘one of 50 coveted electronic entry keys’ to this members-only area.

“It goes on to state that den members are given special reserved ‘Bottle Lockers’ in which they can store cognac.

“Along with every VIP that attended the opening of our restaurant at Threadneedle Walk, we unilaterally awarded Mr Umunna an honorary membership to the members only area. Mr Umunna never sought to be a member of this area or of any of our venues.

“We understand that Mr Umunna was not made aware of our unilateral offer of ‘honorary membership’ and he has not taken advantage our offer. Mr Umunna has never asked for access to the members-only ‘den’ or any locker for any storage purpose at Threadneedle Walk or otherwise. “

He is also denied  the Mail on Sunday report that the club’s polo-themed bar was named “Chuka” after Umunna.

Williams said: “The quote given to the Mail on Sunday, by a member of our staff, which suggested that our polo-themed pop-up bar was named after Mr Umunna was meant as a ‘tongue in cheek’ comment. Unfortunately, this may not have been made clear enough.

“We were the official restaurant sponsor of Polo in the Park, had previously had press coverage about the Polo lounge and a special polo menu.

“A polo ‘chukka’ is one of six divisions into which a polo match is divided – it is for this reason the bar has been named ‘Chukka’ (and not ‘Chuka’ after Mr Umunna).”

A spokesman for the Mail on Sunday said: "It is regrettable that we were informed by M Restaurant’s publicists that Mr Umunna was an active member and well-recognised face at the club. When they admitted this was untrue we immediately withdrew the article and published a correction.”

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