A Labour MP says alleged comments made about Esther McVey by shadow chancellor John McDonnell - including repetition of a claim she should be “lynched” - should be classed as hate crime.
Melanie Onn led a debate in Westminster Hall on Wednesday in which she called for incidents of misogyny - including catcalling and street harassment - to be formally recognised in law.
The Great Grimsby MP wants the government to extend its five current strands of hate crime to include misogyny, under which all incidents of harassment and intimidation could be formally logged and prosecuted.
Asked by Conservative MP Philip Davies whether such a change in the law would cover comments allegedly made by McDonnell at a political rally in 2014, in which he reportedly quoted an activist who said the DWP secretary should be lynched, Onn said that it would.
“He [McDonnell] repeated at a rally [comments by] somebody who said she should be lynched, which clearly made her and many other people feel very uncomfortable,” Davies said.
“Does she think that should be a crime, under what she is saying today?”
“If the individual to whom the comments were directed were to feel that that was something they wished to report, then I think it would fall within the scope of the discussions that we are having today,” the Labour backbencher replied.
“Those sorts of comments are unnecessarily aggressive, I do not think there is any place for them, certainly not in the nature of political debate and discourse.”
She added that the incident had been explore “extensively and more directly” with those involved “who have explained themselves as they wish to do”.
McDonnell has repeatedly refused to apologise for the remarks, and for later describing McVey as “a stain on humanity”.
Asked on the Andrew Marr show in January whether he would say sorry to the Tatton MP, the shadow chancellor said: “I said then I did not support what was happening.
“Of course I didn’t support that and it is for those people who made that statement if they wish to make that apology.
“Let me just say this, I made a statement in Parliament saying of course I don’t support this, I wish harm to nobody.”