The Labour party has formally reported members of Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership campaign team to the Information Commissioner, accusing them of hacking into the party’s membership database, the BBC has learned.

The allegations were made against two members of Sir Keir’s team – one of them is his compliance official.

They were passed to the Information Commissioner’s Office on Thursday.

Sir Keir and his team have strenuously denied the claims.

The allegations are serious, and the confrontation has engulfed the campaign in bitter recrimination.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is the UK’s independent body set up to uphold information rights.

Last night the commission simply confirmed to me it had received a report of a membership database breach, and would make inquiries.

But I understand from multiple sources the Starmer team members were accused of what’s called “data-scraping” – in other words unlawfully hacking information from a membership database capable of helping to target their efforts to drum up support.

Late last night, Sir Kier wrote to the party flatly denied any wrongdoing by his team members.

He insisted they were investigating a means of penetrating the database – called Dialogue – with no intention to use it.

It emerged last week, the rival campaign for Rebecca Long-Bailey had circulated links to volunteers capable of allowing access to the membership database – her team say innocently.

Last night, supporters of Sir Kier suggested they were now victims of a politically motivated effort to damage him and his campaign.

The facts will now be investigated.

But it’s already clear the leadership campaign has just turned very ugly.

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