UNION bosses embroiled in a High Court libel battle say a Labour candidate taking legal action has been dishonest and is not fit to be an MP.

A barrister representing Unite told a judge on Monday that Anna Turley's dishonesty "permeates" the case.

Anthony Hudson QC told Mr Justice Nicklin that Ms Turley - who was a Labour MP in Redcar, North Yorkshire, and hopes to regain the seat - had been willing to "conceal, mislead and deceive".

Ms Turley has sued Unite over an article published on an internet blog which related to an application she made for union membership.

She says the article on the Skwawkbox blog, which contained a press statement from Unite, libelled her.

Ms Turley - who three years ago hit the headlines after calling Unite general secretary Len McCluskey an "arsehole" on Twitter - has also sued Stephen Walker, a journalist who writes, edits and publishes Skwawkbox.

She says Unite also misused her private information.

Ms Turley says the Skwawkbox article conveyed the meaning that she had "acted dishonestly".

Unite and Mr Walker are fighting the case at a High Court trial in London due to last several days.

Ms Turley is expected to give evidence on Tuesday.

Mr Hudson said: "Ms Turley's dishonesty, sadly, permeates every part of this case. Ms Turley had acted dishonestly and behaved dishonestly.

"Regrettably, she is not fit to be an MP."

The judge heard that in December 2016, Ms Turley applied to be a Unite member under a Community membership category.

She sued as a result of the "subsequent actions" of the union and Mr Walker.

Barrister Kate Wilson, representing Ms Turley, said Unite's Community section was aimed at people not in paid employment, but her client had not realised she had joined the "wrong section".

Ms Turley had in March 2017 been contacted by a Unite official and said she would like to transfer to the "appropriate membership".

The Skwawkbox article appeared in April 2017.

Ms Turley says it conveyed the meaning that she had acted dishonestly in submitting her application.

Unite's press office had given Mr Walker a "for publication" statement.

Ms Turley wants damages, although no figure was given to the judge on Monday.

Mr Hudson said Ms Turley would have known that the Community membership section was restricted to people not in paid employment.

He said she wanted to vote against Mr McCluskey without being noticed and without the union knowing she was an MP.

Mr Hudson said: "In all the circumstances, there were reasonable grounds to suspect that (Ms Turley) chose to apply for Community membership at a concessionary subscription rate knowing that this form of membership was restricted to unwaged persons and that, by applying for it, she submitted an application that she knew was false in this respect, and accordingly acted dishonestly in submitting it."

Mr Walker denies that the article caused "serious harm" to Ms Turley's reputation, and says the words complained of were "substantially true" and a matter of public interest.

Unite bosses say they did not authorise publication of the article and the union is not liable for its publication.

They deny that the press statement given to Mr Walker was defamatory.

Mr Hudson said the Unite press statement had not caused serious harm to Ms Turley's reputation and the words complained of were "substantially true".

He said the Unite press statement was on a matter of public interest.