UK

Jared O'Mara: Labour MP Quits Equalities Committee After 'Unacceptable' Derogatory Comments

Man who ousted Nick Clegg made sexist and homophobic remarks online.

23/10/2017 17:07 BST | Updated 24/10/2017 11:10 BST
SHEFHALLAMLAB
Jared O'Mara.

A Labour MP has quit parliament’s equalities committee after apologising for a series of “unacceptable” sexist and homophobic comments he made online over a decade ago.

Jared O’Mara made rape jokes, asked Girls Aloud for an orgy and branded British women “fatties” in online comments reported by the Guido Fawkes websiteA second story suggested he had called gay people “fudge packers” who “drive up the Marmite motorway”.

His remarks emerged just days after another Labour MP, Clive Lewis, was reprimanded by the party after a video emerged of him appearing to tell an audience member at an event to get “on your knees, bitch”.

The comments published were made between 2002 and 2004 when O’Mara was in his early-20s.

On a music website, O’Mara, MP for Sheffield Hallam, wrote that it would be funny if jazz musician Jamie Cullum was raped to death.

He wrote: “It would be no great loss to the music world if he was sodomised with his own piano and subsequently died of a sore arse. In fact, it would be quite funny.”

In a mock advice column, he also posted: “Girls Aloud - I advise you to sack Sarah and the remaining four members come and have an orgy with me.”

PA Archive/PA Images
Jared O'Mara asked Girls Aloud for an orgy.

O’Mara, now 35, also criticised fat people, hitting out at “the prevailing western tendency to deify fatties” and said that fat people do not “deserve our respect”. He also claimed that Michelle McManus had only won Pop Idol “because she was fat”.

He also described Sheffield United supporters as “fucking pigs” and the residents of Leeds as “a bunch of rugby lovin’ c****”.

On a fan website for the musician Morrissey in 2002 he made references to gay men as “fudge-packers” and “poofters”.

O’Mara ousted former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg from the Sheffield Hallam seat in one of the biggest upsets of the summer’s snap election. After the comments emerged he said he was “ashamed” of the remarks.

O’Mara tweeted via his office:

“I am deeply ashamed of the comments I made online, which have emerged today.

“I was wrong to make them; I understand why they are offensive and sincerely apologise for my use of such unacceptable language.

“I made the comments as a young man, at a particularly difficult time in my life, but that is no excuse. Misogyny is a deep problem in our society.

“Since making those comments 15 years ago, I have learned about inequalities of power and how violent language perpetuates them.

“I continue to strive to be a better man and work where I can to confront misogyny, which is why I’m so proud to sit on the Women and Equalities Select Committee.

“I will continue to engage with, and crucially learn from, feminist and other equalities groups so as an MP I can do whatever I can to tackle misogyny.”

Labour MP Jess Phillips tweeted how she welcomed the apology and hoped “people are learning”.

Another Labour MP, Stephen Doughty, the co-chair of the party’s LGBT PLP group, said he had spoken to the MP about his “totally unacceptable” comments.

“I raised my deep concerns directly in person with Jared this afternoon and have received a frank apology,” he said in a statement posted on Twitter. 

O’Mara later spoke to colleagues at the weekly meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party on Monday night, and apologised again for his comments.

But Conservative MPs appeared less willing to forgive. Tory Nadine Dorries claimed it was “safe to say Labour can no longer pretend to be the party of equal opportunities and diversity”, and fellow MP Sarah Wollaston said Sheffield Hallam “deserves a by-election”.

Liberal Democrat peer and former leader of Sheffield Council Lord Scriven said: “It seems like a nasty pattern of sexist language and misogyny is developing from the Labour MP for Sheffield Hallam.

“He clearly isn’t fit to sit on the Women and Equalities Committee. He must stand down from that committee immediately and if he doesn’t, Jeremy Corbyn must take action to remove him.

“Having spoken to voters in Sheffield Hallam, they are beginning to question what kind of MP he is.”