Labour MP Kerry McCarthy accuses party colleague Kelvin Hopkins of sexual harassment
Labour MP Kerry McCarthy has accused Kelvin Hopkins of inappropriate behaviour over a period of 20 years.
Ms McCarthy told The Guardian she has decided to speak out after Labour activist Ava Etemadzadeh last week accused Mr Hopkins of rubbing himself against her and sending her lewd text messages.
Mr Hopkins, who denies the allegations, was suspended by Labour shortly before the story broke in the Daily Telegraph.
The Bristol East MP claims she began receiving unwanted attention from Mr Hopkins in the mid-1990s, when the pair were chairs of neighbouring constituency parties in Luton.
She said: “He invited me to lunch – I thought, two constituency chairs, it made sense. I would have been 29, maybe 30.”
A note she received afterwards, allegedly sent to her by Mr Hopkins, said: “My only reason for asking you out to lunch is because you are attractive, intelligent and charming. PS: best to dispose of this once read!”
“That to me felt really intrusive,” Ms McCarthy said.
She also revealed further correspondence from Mr Hopkins since she became an MP in 2005.
One letter, written on parliamentary paper, said: “I dreamt about you last night. A nice dream.
“Much time has passed but I do remember earlier times … and you remain a very attractive woman.”
Ms McCarthy also claimed that she was approached by him in parliament in January 2016 after she had done an interview in House magazine.
“He said to me in the coffee queue – lovely pictures of you, almost pinup quality,” she said.
In a statement, Mr Hopkins said that the allegations made against him had put him and his wife under “tremendous stress and pressure.”
He added: “If Kerry McCarthy MP raises a complaint with the Labour party in the normal and fair way, I will of course fully cooperate with any investigation.
“However I do ask, on my behalf and on behalf of all other individuals and their families dealing with allegations, that these matters are dealt with by proper due process and not by unfair, humiliating one-sided trial by media.”
Ms Etemadzadeh revealed text messages were sent by 76-year-old Mr Hopkins calling her “a lovely young woman," adding that a “nice young man would be lucky to have you as a girlfriend and lover…Were I to be young”.
Recounting an alleged incident at a political event, Ms Etemadzadeh said: "He hugged me to say goodbye, held me too tight and rubbed his crotch on me, which I found revolting.”
Mr Hopkins was reprimanded by Labour’s whips office, but went on to be appointed Shadow Culture Secretary by Jeremy Corbyn last summer.
Speaking last week, Mr Corbyn said: "He had been reprimanded, the case had been closed... I thought it was reasonable to appoint him, albeit for a very short time, to Shadow Cabinet... All I can say is I took a decision based on what I knew at the time and he made a good contribution to the Shadow Cabinet during the short time he was there."
The whole matter must now be "investigated and resolved," the Labour leader insisted.
In a statement last week, Mr Hopkins said: "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."