Jess Phillips questions promotion of sex storm Labour MP Kelvin Hopkins
Outspoken Labour MP Jess Phillips has questioned whether it was right for Kelvin Hopkins to be promoted despite an allegation he sexually harassed a party activist.
The former Shadow Minister was suspended from Labour last night after it emerged 27-year-old Ava Etemadzadeh complained two years ago that he rubbed himself against her at a political event.
The party reportedly said they could do nothing about the alleged harassment – which also included lewd texts and comments – if the activist was unwilling to be named as the accuser.
But top MP Ms Phillips said it “seems wrong” that Mr Hopkins was then promoted to Shadow Culture Secretary at the height of the 2016 protest over Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.
“There does seem to be a problem with some of the issues over the timeline in this case, and I think that potentially Kelvin Hopkins should not have been promoted,” the MP - who sits on the Women and Equalities Committee - told Radio 4 this morning.
“That does seem wrong to me. I think it’s probably more cock-up than conspiracy. I don’t think that it was political expediency. I think that people just didn’t take it as seriously as it needed to be taken.”
The Birmingham Yardley MP also lashed out at Theresa May for her approach to the sexual harassment scandal and said Tory MP Stephen Crabb should be suspended.
The former Cabinet minister and father of two has admitted sending lewd text messages to young girls on at least two occasions.
Ms Phillips complained that Mrs May had only approached the issue of sex pests in her top team by weighing their conduct against the ministerial code – potentially leaving backbench MPs untouched.
“Unfortunately she has only been using the ministerial code because she thinks that her party shouldn’t be taking responsibility for these things,” Ms Phillips said.
“So it seems like it’s open season for Tory backbenchers to do whatever they like - like Stephen Crabb. Stephen Crabb should definitely not still be walking around parliament with the Tory whip.”
So far in the Conservative party Michael Fallon has quit as defence secretary after it emerged he touched a journalist's knee in 2002 and allegedly made a string of sleazy comments.
First Secretary of State Damian Green and Brexit Minister Mark Garnier are both under investigation by the Cabinet Office into whether they breached the ministerial code with alleged lewd behaviour.