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Arch Corbyn critic John Woodcock is suspended from the Labour party over claims he sent inappropriate texts to a female former aide
- The Barrow MP has had the party whip withdrawn by Labour’s general secretary
- The complainant reported it last November to the party’s anti-harassment panel
- He has denied the accusations against him, in an open letter to constituents
Labour MP and Jeremy Corbyn critic John Woodcock has been suspended from the party over allegations of sexual harassment.
The 39-year-old Barrow MP, a former aide to Gordon Brown, has had the whip withdrawn by Labour’s general secretary Jennie Formby.
It is claimed that Mr Woodcock sent inappropriate texts to a former female aide, who reported the matter to Labour’s disciplinary chiefs last November.
He was told by whips today that he was suspended pending an investigation. He denies the allegations against him.
A party spokeswoman said in a statement: ‘John Woodcock has been suspended from the Labour Party pending due process. It would not be appropriate to comment further on an ongoing case.’
The Blairite MP, who enraged Mr Corbyn’s allies by saying he is ‘unfit’ to be Prime Minister, faces being sacked from Labour if he is found guilty.
Blairite MP John Woodcock (pictured) who enraged Mr Corbyn’s allies by saying he is ‘unfit’ to be Prime Minister, faces being sacked from Labour if he is found guilty.
The Barrow MP said in an open letter today: ‘In the light of newspaper stories today, I want to make the following clear to my constituents.
‘I was made aware in December last year that a complaint made against me was being referred to Labour’s national constitutional committee as a potential breach of the party’s policy on sexual harassment.
‘I do not accept this but know the complaint must be thoroughly and fairly investigated.
‘I have not yet been notified of any date for a hearing and was following the party’s guidance that the process should remain confidential to reassure potential victims that they could make complaints without being exposed to unwelcome publicity.
‘Therefore I do not intend to discuss details of the issue ahead of any hearing.’
Westminster has been rocked by sexual harassment scandals over the past six months.
Tory MPs Sir Michael Fallon and Damian Green both had to resign from the Cabinet after allegedly making unwanted sexual passes at women.
Expenses-scandal peer must repay £15,000
The Labour peer forced to quit as Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘enforcer’ in the Lords over an expenses scandal has been ordered to repay thousands of pounds.
Lord Bassam was last week instructed to hand back more than £15,000 of wrongly claimed travel costs after a Mail on Sunday investigation.
Standards watchdogs also required the peer to apologise for breaking House of Lords rules.
Lord Bassam quit as Labour’s Chief Whip in the Lords last December after it was revealed that since 2010 he had claimed £41,000 to commute from Brighton to Westminster –while at the same time getting £260,000 from an allowance for senior peers whose main home is not in London. Now the Lords’ standards watchdog, Lucy Scott-Moncrieff, has ruled that £15,737 of his travel costs were invalid.
The peer was spared a worse penalty, however, after she decided that he had acted ‘mistakenly, but not dishonestly’ because the rules over Lords’ allowances were not clear.
A review into how Lords’ travel expenses are paid is under way.
Lord Bassam, known as Lord Swampy because of his background as a squatters’ rights leader, said: ‘I have begun paying back the over-claimed travel costs.’
The complaint was made to Labour’s National Executive Committee in November last year – when the so-called Pestminster scandal was at its height.
MPs from across the political divide have been accused of sexually harassing and sexually assaulting aides working in Parliament.
Mr Woodcock is one of the Labour leader’s fiercest critics, frequently speaking out against him in Parliament.
He has condemned Mr Corbyn’s failure to tackle anti-Semitism among his supporters.
And he recently tore into Mr Corbyn in the Commons over his failure to condemn Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
The complaint was made in November to Labour’s anti-harassment panel, which was set up after the so-called ‘Pestminster’ furore to make it easier for MPs’ staff to report alleged misbehaviour. However, it is understood he is strongly contesting the claims.
Mr Woodcock has clashed with Mr Corbyn’s supporters after launching a series of trenchant attacks on him.
He said that he would rather starve than sing the ‘Oh, Jeremy Corbyn’ chant made popular at last year’s Glastonbury Festival.
He also survived an attempt by his Labour enemies to ban him standing in last year’s General Election after he said that Mr Corbyn was ‘unfit for No 10’.
And he accused the Labour leader of lying over the Skripals’ poisoning in Salisbury after Mr Corbyn claimed he had always ‘been a robust critic of Russia’.
Last week he was accused by union boss Len McCluskey of trying to undermine Mr Corbyn by whipping up a row over anti-Semitism.
The allegations are expected to be considered in the next few weeks by Labour’s National Constitutional Committee, which last week expelled a party activist for heckling a Jewish Labour MP.
‘Mr Woodcock is accused of sending inappropriate messages to a former female member of his staff,’ said a Westminster source.
‘The complaint came via Labour’s new anti-harassment hotline.’
Mr Woodcock declined to comment.
A Labour spokesman last night said: ‘The party takes all complaints of harassment very seriously.
‘All allegations received are fully investigated.’
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