NEWS
25/10/2017 14:30 BST

Labour Suspends MP Jared O’Mara Pending Comments Probe

Labour MP Jared O’Mara has had the whip suspended while claims that he called a constituent an “ugly bitch” are investigated, the party has said.

The move follows the announcement on Tuesday that Labour had launched an inquiry amid mounting pressure over the Sheffield Hallam MP’s comments and behaviour.

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 comments, 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.

The announcement that Labour had removed the whip pending the outcome of the inquiry came after the woman he is alleged to have abused called for him to be suspended.

Sophie Evans told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “Initially, I wanted him to apologise to me. Now it’s too late. I want him to admit what he’s done.”

(PA Graphics)

Mr O’Mara has consistently denied making the alleged comments, said to have been made in a bar in Sheffield in March, just months before he was elected as an MP for the first time.

A Labour Party spokeswoman said: “He has had the whip suspended while the investigation is carried out.”

The announcement 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.

Shadow attorney general Shami Chakrabarti (Jonathan Brady/PA)

“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.

“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.”

Sheffield Hallam MP Jared O’Mara (PA)

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 20s.

“In a sense, it was less of a problem for our generation because we didn’t have the online social media world.”

On Monday, Mr O’Mara resigned from his position on the Commons Women and Equalities Committee after the homophobic and sexist online comments he made more than a decade ago came to light.

Newly revealed online comments from the same period show he also made derogatory remarks about the Spanish and Danes.

A Labour spokesman said Jeremy Corbyn asked for the MP to be suspended because new material allegedly written by Mr O’Mara had come to light dating from 2009.

“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”.

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.”