JOHN McDonnell has denied there is a ‘civil war’ at the top of Labour ahead of an explosive BBC report on how Jeremy Corbyn’s office handled anti-Semitism complaints.

The Shadow Chancellor said reports that he and Diane Abbott wanted Mr Corbyn to sack his closest aides were “myths and rubbish” invented by drunken journalists.

The Sunday Times claimed Mr McDonnell and the Shadow Home Secretary had rowed with the leader over his chief of staff Karie Murphy and communications and strategy director Seamus Milne.

The paper said the aides had been accused of keeping Mr Corbyn “captive” and stopping him swinging Labour behind a second EU referendum and supporting Remain.

The two are also reported to feature prominently in a BBC Panorama documentary by veteran investigator report John Ware about Labour’ and anti-Semitism airing on Wednesday.

Up to six former staff are said to have breached non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) to speak to the programme, with some receiving warning letters from party lawyers.

Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson tweeted in response to the story: “Using expensive media lawyers in attempt to silence staff members is as futile as it is stupid. It’s not the Labour way and I deplore it.”

On the BBC’s Andrew Marr show, Mr McDonnell denying calling for Ms Murphy or Mr Milne to be sacked.

“I have confidence in them, of course I do. I have not told anyone to be sacked or anything like that.”

He blamed the stories on journalists attending summer receptions and “drinking some of the most nauseating wine ever produced from a grape.”

Shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardiner also denied there was a civil war, and defended the party’s use of gagging clauses in staff contracts, and denied a cover-up.

He said: “We absolutely do not use gagging orders to hide anything that is illegal or improper.

“We use gagging orders only to stop former members of staff from leaking confidential information where we have an obligation to protect individuals and for doing that in a party political or partisan way for political purposes.”

He said he would welcome “any objective, impartial investigation that’s going to help us to get rid of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party” but “my understanding of this programme is that has not been balanced and impartial in that way”.

Mr McDonnell also said Labour would break up the Treasury and base part of it in northern England to improve decisions on spending a new fund designed to put £250bn into infrastructure over 10 years.

He said: “What I’m saying is we need to pour money into the north, investment long term on infrastructure, training, rebuilding the economy, but the better way to make decisions is to have them made in that locality, in the region.

“So I’m saying let’s split Number 11, take the national transformation fund - where these resources will come from - take those decisions make

A Panorama spokesman said: “The Labour Party is criticising a programme they have not seen. We are confident the programme will adhere to the BBC’s editorial guidelines. The Labour Party has been given the opportunity to respond to the allegations.”