Labour MP Jared O’Mara has had the whip suspended following further claims about his use of offensive language.
An investigation had already been launched into allegations he called a constituent an “ugly bitch” – an accusation denied by the Sheffield Hallam MP – but the decision to suspend the whip followed further claims about his online comments, including a reference to Angelina Jolie performing oral sex.
In the Commons, Theresa May said MPs needed to show “due care and attention” in the way they referred to other people.
Asked at Prime Minister’s Questions about Mr O’Mara’s conduct, she said women in public life deserved to be treated with respect.
“All of us in this House should have due care and attention to the way in which we refer to other people and should show women in public life the respect they deserve,” she said.
Mr O’Mara has come under close scrutiny following revelations about a series of homophobic, sexist and derogatory online messages posted in the early 2000s, for which he apologised and quit as a member of the Commons Women and Equalities Committee.
But more recent allegations include the claim from constituent Sophie Evans that he called her an “ugly bitch” in March this year, and further details of his online activities in 2009, several years after the original posts, prompted Labour to take action.
The Guido Fawkes website highlighted a music review allegedly written by Mr O’Mara in 2009 which joked about taking a woman’s virginity and said a band was “even better than receiving fellatio from the beautifully pert lips and wet mouth of Angelina Jolie”.
A Labour spokesman said Jeremy Corbyn asked for the MP to be suspended because of the new material allegedly written by Mr O’Mara.
“The original information related either to things that were written and said around 13, 14 years ago, or to things that were contested. The latest information is more recent and so Jeremy took the decision to ask for his suspension.”
The spokesman described social media posts by Mr O’Mara as “heinous”.
Shadow attorney general Shami Chakrabarti (Jonathan Brady/PA)
He said: “It was obviously heinous in 2002 or 2004 when Jared O’Mara was 21, I think.
“The point being that we weren’t aware of the significantly later material. That’s a new and significant fact, he was obviously significantly older when that was written. So that’s something different.”
The spokesman said: “This kind of abusive, misogynistic, sexist language is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated in the Labour Party.”
He added that if the investigation decided to strip Mr O’Mara of his party membership he could not remain a Labour MP.
The spokesman said: “It’s about membership. Membership determines whether you can be a Labour MP. If you are not a member you can’t be a Labour MP.”
The announcement that the whip had been suspended was welcomed by shadow education minister Tracy Brabin, who told BBC Radio 5 live: “That’s probably a wise move and we’ll see what comes out of the investigation.”
Earlier, however, shadow attorney general Baroness Chakrabarti said Mr O’Mara deserved a second chance, having apologised for past homophobic and misogynistic postings on social media.
“He has apologised for things that he did 15 years ago when he was, as he describes, a troubled young man,” she told BBC Radio 4’s World At One.
Sheffield Hallam MP Jared O’Mara (PA)
“He is clear that he doesn’t have those views now. And, I think, in relation to things that happened 15 years ago, people should be given a second chance.
“If I only enjoyed the company of people who were completely pure in relation to misogyny, homophobia, racism, and had never been wrong, I wouldn’t get out much.”
Asked how Mr O’Mara came to be selected to stand for Labour, Lady Chakrabarti said: “I don’t think we should rule people out for bad attitudes when they were in their early twenties.
“In a sense, it was less of a problem for our generation because we didn’t have the online social media world.”