Labour frontbencher Kate Osamor quits to 'support family' amid row over son's drugs conviction

Posted On: 
1st December 2018

Kate Osamor has resigned from the Labour frontbench amid a row over her knowledge of her son's conviction for drug offences.

Kate Osamor
Credit: 
PA

The Shadow International Development Secretary had been under scrutiny after her son Ishmael - who works in her parliamentary office - pleaded guilty to four charges of possession with intent to supply cocaine, ecstasy, ketamine and cannabis.

The Times today reported that a journalist who approached her for comment on the story was threatened with having their face "smashed in".

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In a statement, Ms Osamor said: "I am resigning my position as Shadow International Development Secretary to concentrate on supporting my family through the difficult time we have been experiencing."

She added: "I remain fully committed to our programme for creating a society that works for the many, not the privileged few, and will continue to campaign for this from the backbenches."

Labour party officials had previously claimed Ms Osamor was unaware of her son's case until after he was given a community sentence of 200 hours' unpaid work.

But The Times on Saturday revealed that Ms Osamor wrote to the trial judge ahead of Ishmael's sentencing asking for leniency.

The existence of the letters came after a legal application by the Times and other newspapers, who argued that there was a public interest in disclosing the reasons behind the sentencing.

Ms Osamor was said to have told a Times journalist who approached her for comment that she "should have come down here with a bat and smashed your face in" before throwing a bucket of water on him.

The allegation that Ms Osamor had threatened a reporter for pursuing the story drew condemnation from journalist's union the NUJ, which counts Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn among its members.

General secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: "Journalists, like any other workers, need to be able to go about their work without fear of threats or assault. It's completely unacceptable to respond to legitimate press queries, however unwelcome they may be, with physical or verbal abuse."

The union boss added: "There is a disturbing and febrile international climate at the moment that is facilitating and legitimising the notion that it is open season on journalists - such insidious and dangerous beliefs, particularly when they emanate from public figures in positions of authority, have to be challenged at every turn."

Amid speculation that former Labour leader Ed Miliband could be tapped up to replace Ms Osamor, Mr Corbyn meanwhile said: "She brought a new dimension to the role by committing Labour to tackling global inequality as well as poverty as part of building a world for the many not the few.

"I know Kate will take this time to support her family, work for her constituents and support our party’s efforts to rebuild Britain from the backbenches."

Ishmael Osamor was found with £2,500 worth of drugs at Bestival music festival last year. He later pleaded guilty to four charges, although the prosecution accepted that Mr Osamor was holding the drugs for a friend, and was not selling them.