Kelvin Hopkins denies sexually harassing Labour activist
A veteran Labour MP suspended by the party over claims he sexually harassed a female party activist has insisted he did nothing wrong.
Kelvin Hopkins is accused of rubbing his crotch against Ava Etemadzadeh at a political event and then sending her inappropriate text messages.
In one, he said: "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."
He was reprimanded over Ms Etemadzade's allegations by Labour's whips office in 2016, but later that year he was appointed Shadow Culture Secretary by Jeremy Corbyn.
Mr Corbyn's office were aware of the allegations before Mr Hopkins' promotion, but considered the case closed.
However, it emerged today that then Chief Whip Rosie Winterton had flagged her concerns about his appointment to the Labour frontbench.
Speaking to the BBC, Ms Etemadzade said: "I'm very disillusioned because just a few months later I realised that Jeremy Corbyn promoted Kelvin Hopkins to the Shadow Cabinet despite the fact that the leader's office was aware of this and they refused to act and that made me feel very powerless and isolated and alone."
But in a statement, Mr Hopkins denied any wrongdoing and said he would co-operate with a Labour party investigation into the allegations.
On the claims he rubbed himself against Ms Etemadzade in 2014, he said: "I absolutely and categorically deny that I in any way engaged in any such inappropriate conduct. I simply put an arm around her shoulder to give her a brief slight hug just before getting in to my car. I did not hold her tight. I did not rub any part of my body, let alone my crotch, against Ava."
Mr Hopkins admitted sending the text message, but said she had replied: "Oh thank you Kelvin for such kind words."
The Luton North MP added: "I saw the allegations appear online last night and in the papers today. I have always wished and still do wish, Ava the very best of luck in pursuing the career in politics that she wants to follow. I am happy to fully cooperate with the Labour party to bring to a swift conclusion the investigation that is now being carried out into my conduct."