Labour MP Kelvin Hopkins suspended over claims he rubbed himself against party activist
A former Shadow Cabinet member has been suspended by Labour over claims he sexually harassed a party activist two years ago.
Kelvin Hopkins is accused of rubbing himself against Ava Etemadzadeh at a political event and then sending her several lewd text messages.
According to the Daily Telegraph, she informed the party at the time of the incident, but was told that they could not act as she wanted to remain anonymous.
Ms Etemadzadeh also claimed that Jeremy Corbyn’s office were informed of the alleged incident last year, but that Mr Hopkins was later appointed Shadow Culture Secretary.
Text messages sent by the 76 year old MP to Ms Etemadzadeh, now 27, are said to include Mr Hopkins telling the activist she is “a lovely young woman" and "attractive” before adding that a “nice young man would be lucky to have you as a girlfriend and lover…Were I to be young”.
Recounting the alleged incident at the political event, she added: "He hugged me to say goodbye, held me too tight and rubbed his crotch on me, which I found revolting.”
Ms Etemadzadeh also recounted an incident where at an “uncomfortable” meeting with Mr Hopkins in parliament he asked questions about her personal life, including whether she had a boyfriend, before stating that if his office was empty, he would have liked to have taken her there.
In a statement last night Labour 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.”
Ms Etemadzadeh said the inaction by the leader’s office over her complaint had been “absolutely disgraceful”.
“I know the leader's office was informed and they didn't act on it, which is absolutely disgraceful. He was then promoted to the shadow cabinet,” she said.
“An independent reporting body to deal with these cases would be better.”
The revelation comes as speaker John Bercow issued a letter to party leaders calling on them to lay out their policies for sexual harassment allegations, so that they can be seen by the public on Parliament’s website.
The claims against Mr Hopkins mark the first to be publicly made against a Labour MP since allegations of widespread sleaze at Westminster were reported last week.
But they come after Bex Bailey, a former member of the party's ruling NEC, told the BBC earlier this week that she was attacked by a senior Labour figure at an event in 2011 – before being told by a party official she should not report the incident because it could harm her career.