POLITICS
22/03/2018 11:32 GMT | Updated 22/03/2018 12:59 GMT

Labour Says There Will Be 'No Direct Contact' Between MP Kelvin Hopkins And Harassment Complainant

He will be able to hear her evidence from a separate room.

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Labour's Dawn Butler

A shadow minister has said there will be ‘no direct contact’ between Labour MP Kelvin Hopkins and an activist who accused him of sexual harassment. 

Dawn Butler, who heads up the party’s women and equalities brief, said the investigation into alleged misconduct by the veteran left-winger should be “transparent and fair”.

Her statement came after complainant Ava Etemadzadeh said she had been told she would face direct questions from Hopkins, as part of an ongoing investigation into her allegations that he sent her an inappropriate text and rubbed his crotch against her after a student event in 2014.

The 76-year-old Jeremy Corbyn ally is suspended from Labour pending its results.

Butler posted on Twitter on Thursday that she believed it was right there should be “no direct contact” between parties at the centre of any complaints. 

“In my opinion it is so important that Labour Party procedures are transparent, fair and offer natural justice to survivors/victims and respondents/perpetrators,” she said.

Birmingham Yardley MP Jess Phillips said she would “cut up her Labour Party membership card” were Etemadzadeh forced to engage with Hopkins. 

HuffPost UK understands Hopkins will be allowed to listen to the complainant’s evidence from a separate room and submit written questions to be put to her by a third party.

Etemadzadeh tweeted that Jeremy Corbyn had kept her “anxious and waiting” over the investigation.

She added: “Now his team suggests I should face live questions from my harasser. In the interest of future victims, I have made it clear to @UKLabour that under no circumstances will I participate in any meeting of this nature.”

A Labour spokesperson said Etemadzadeh would not face direct questioning.

“The process does not allow respondents to respond directly to complainants. The party takes all complaints of harassment extremely seriously,” they added.

Hopkins is also accused of harassing fellow MP Kerry McCarthy.  He denies any wrongdoing.

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Kelvin Hopkins

Campaign group LabourToo has called for an independent body to be set up to handle all complaints made against politicians and staff, after submitting a report on sexual assault and harassment within the party to senior officials.

A spokesperson criticised the party’s handling of the Hopkins case so far.

“It is horrifying to imagine how the handling of Ava’s complaint must look to those Labour members who have yet to come forward with their own experiences of harassment and abuse,” they said.

“Those wishing to report unacceptable behaviour in our party must be reassured that they can expect clear and sensitive communication, and a guarantee that they will not be directly questioned by the alleged perpetrator.

“This process needs a fundamental shift to make it fully independent, and able to meet the needs of ordinary members all the way through to powerful MPs”.