Members of Harrow Council's Independent Labour group have been expelled by the Labour Party for five years, it has been announced.

The nine members of the newly formed group - including council leader Councillor Thaya Idaikkadar - split from the previously ruling Labour party after Cllr Idaikkadar was voted out as Labour leader in a surprise challenge.

They have since alleged "institutional racism", a claim the Labour group strongly denies.

In a statement from National Labour Party, a spokesman said: “The Labour Party can now confirm that the nine members of the Independent Group have been excluded from membership of the Labour Party. Their exclusion is likely to continue for five years.

“The Labour Party’s rules clearly state that councillors cannot be a member of another political party or be a member of another group on a council whilst at the same time remaining a member of the Labour Party or Labour Group; all members can only be a member of one group at a time.”

Letters have been sent to the nine members of the group, who split from the Labour group earlier this month, confirming their exclusion.

The spokesman added: “It is important to note that it was not until after these individuals were not elected to their preferred positions within the Labour group that they made any complaints about the running of the Labour group.

“Indeed no complaints were made to the Labour Party whilst the nine now Independent Councillors were members of the Labour Party.”

The Labour party has said it is currently in the process of selecting candidates for the borough election in 2014.