A Labour MP who was suspended over historical online comments has quit the party and condemned it for no longer sharing “my commitment to the true definition of equality and compassion”.
Earlier in the month, he was reinstated after an eight-month suspension from the party over sexist and homophobic comments he made online.
But he has now said he doesn’t believe the investigation was fair and that the party made him “feel like a criminal”.
The Sheffield Hallam politician, who unseated former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg in 2017, has been handed a formal warning by Labour’s disputes panel following an investigation.
O’Mara was suspended from the party in October after a series of derogatory online comments were unearthed by the Guido Fawkes website, and faced the prospect of permanent expulsion.
He wrote on his website on Thursday night: “I feel I have not been listened to or been given a fair investigation as I do not believe they considered my supporting evidence or got in touch with my witnesses. Furthermore, I am of the opinion that the Labour Party no longer shares my commitment to the true definition of equality and compassion.
“There is no doubt that I made mistakes as a young man using distasteful language as a clumsy attempt at satire and sarcasm online. But that does not mean that is who I am today. I am sure that there may be many of us who have done things in our past which we wished we had never done. That said, you can’t take it away and I am truly sorry for any offence that I caused.
“I didn’t commit any crimes, yet I have been made unfairly to feel like a criminal. Nobody should be made to feel ashamed for mistakes they make when they are young. Someone from a youth charity recently said to me that “young people should be free to be anti-social”. I was not anti-social by definition but agree with the sentiment. It’s part of learning and growing up.
“I believe I am the first autistic MP in our history, and this sadly got lost in the narrative of my interview with ITV earlier this week. I ask for everybody to go on the internet and read about autism, and about my other disabilities; clinical depression, cerebral palsy and anxiety. Then, with that reading and research, seek to exercise empathy over apathy and antipathy. All I’ve ever wanted to do in life is help those who suffer more than I do. I ask that you all share this ambition and concern with me.”