Labour suspends Kelvin Hopkins MP over sexual misconduct claim

Party launches investigation into claims, which Guardian understands were brought to then-chief whip’s attention two years ago, following fresh evidence

Labour MP Kelvin Hopkins has been suspended from the party after allegations of sexual misconduct were made against him.

The claims, said to include inappropriate text messages, were first brought to the attention of Labour’s then-chief whip Rosie Winterton two years ago, the Guardian understands. The decision to suspend Hopkins has come after fresh evidence emerged on Thursday.

In a statement, the party said: “On the basis of allegations received by the Labour party today, Kelvin Hopkins has been suspended from party membership, and therefore the Labour whip, while an investigation takes place.

“The Labour party takes all such complaints extremely seriously and has robust procedures in place to deal with them.”

Hopkins, 76, has been the MP for Luton North since 1997.

The allegations of sexual misconduct were made to the Daily Telegraph by Ava Etemadzadeh. She told the paper that following a Labour event at the University of Essex in 2013, he hugged her very tightly and rubbed himself against her. The pair had met the previous year.

“He hugged me to say goodbye, held me too tight and rubbed his crotch on me, which I found revolting,” she said.

In February 2015, the now 27-year-old activist visited Hopkins in parliament – on his invitation – where she alleges he asked her whether she had a boyfriend, along with other personal questions.

According to her, he later lamented that his office was not empty, had it not been he would have liked to have taken her there, which Etemadzadeh said made her feel “uncomfortable”.

Later that month, she said the MP called her several times but she did not answer.

He followed up the unanswered calls with a text message on 16 February noting she is a “lovely young woman – attractive, intelligent, charming and sweet natured. A nice young man would be lucky to have you as a girlfriend and lover. I am sure one such is soon to be found. Were I to be young … but I am not. Always your friend, and if you ever need a friend you have my number … xxx”.

Etemadzadeh said she thanked him for his “kind words” to close the conversation.

There was no comment from Hopkins on Thursday night but the Press Association said that his wife Patricia told them at their home that Hopkins was at a party meeting and she didn’t know anything about the suspension.

Hopkins briefly served in Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet in the summer of 2016, after the mass resignations that followed the EU referendum.

Jess Phillips, the MP for Birmingham Yardley, said: “I think that the party is right to suspend him. Young Labour activists must be able to trust the senior members of our party not to use their position to use them as playthings.”

Hopkins is the second Labour MP to be suspended recently. Jared O’Mara, the new MP for Sheffield Hallam, is also being investigated after he was found to have made a series of misogynistic and homophobic comments online – and accused of behaving inappropriately towards a woman.

Women have been encouraged to share their experiences of harassment by politicians after the Harvey Weinstein allegations. Labour insiders say they fear Hopkins will not be the last MP forced to step aside as a result of harassment claims.

Contributor

Heather Stewart

The GuardianTramp

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