Kelvin Hopkins and Ivan Lewis harassment claims referred to top Labour disciplinary body
Allegations of inappropriate behaviour from two Labour MPs have today been referred to Labour’s highest disciplinary body.
The National Constitutional Committee (NCC) will look into claims made against former minister Ivan Lewis and veteran MP Kelvin Hopkins.
A female activist has claimed Mr Lewis touched her leg repeatedly and invited her to his house during a party event in 2010 when she was 19, according to Buzzfeed News.
In a statement this afternoon the Bury North MP said: ""I note the decision of the Labour Party to refer this matter to a full hearing of the National Constitutional Committee. I will continue to co-operate fully with any investigation."
Mr Hopkins is accused of harassment by fellow MP Kerry McCarthy and Labour activist Ava Etemadzadeh.
The Luton North MP is accused of rubbing his crotch against Ms Etemadzadeh at a political event and then sending her inappropriate text messages.
He strongly denies all the allegations against him and today said the NCC inquiry would be an opportunity to “clear my name”.
Ms Etamadzadeh said she "cautiously welcome[d]" today's announcement, but hit out at Labour over the length of time the inquiry has taken.
She also attacked the party for promoting Mr Hopkins to a frontbench role even after the Labour leader's office had been made aware of the complaints against him.
"After two long years of my complaint about Kelvin Hopkins being ignored by Jeremy Corbyn, I cautiously welcome the fact that my case is finally being heard. I’m grateful to the NEC panel for recognising that there is a case to answer here and the matter should be referred to the National Constitutional Committee for consideration of disciplinary action," she said.
"But this doesn’t hide that the facts of my case haven’t changed since I made my original complaint in December 2015. The only reason this case is being heard by the Labour party is because I went public and the resulting media backlash meant that what had been covered up before, would now be examined.
"And while I had been fobbed off without any action, Kelvin Hopkins found himself rewarded by Jeremy Corbyn with a shadow cabinet spot.
"I know the NCC will take its responsibilities seriously, act with integrity and I look forward to finally having my say. But the only way victims of harassment in politics can see justice is through the establishment of an independent politically neutral body. Without such a body, there will always be the risk of the sort of political meddling we have seen in cases like mine, and women in the Labour party will not be safe."
Mr Hopkins also released a statement after the announcement, saying: “This issue needs to be dealt with by due process and I am happy to go to the NCC to clear my name.
“I shall be making a full statement when the inquiry is complete and am not saying anything further today.”
A Labour spokesperson said: "After consideration of statements provided by the complainant and the respondent, the NEC's Sexual Harassment panel has agreed that on the balance of the evidence the matter should be referred to a full hearing of the National Constitutional Committee.
"The Labour party will not be commenting further on this case until the conclusion of that hearing."