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Corbyn defends promoting Kelvin Hopkins despite reprimand

He was criticised for appointing now suspended Labour MP Kelvin Hopkins to the shadow cabinet after allegations against him had surfaced.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has defended appointing an MP to the shadow cabinet who he knew had been reprimanded after claims of inappropriate behaviour.

Mr Corbyn made Kelvin Hopkins shadow culture secretary in 2016 after complaints about the Luton North MP had been made by activist Ava Etemadzadeh.

It is understood that Mr Hopkins was spoken to about why his behaviour was inappropriate and reprimanded by then chief whip Dame Rosie Winterton when Ms Etemadzadeh made her initial complaint after dealings with the MP in 2014 and 2015.

Mr Hopkins was suspended from Labour last week and an investigation launched after it is understood Ms Etemadzadeh contacted the party again with fresh information.

The MP “categorically denies” any inappropriate conduct in relation to the activist.

Mr Corbyn said he believed the “case was closed” when he elevated Mr Hopkins to his top team.

The Labour leader said: “Yes, I was aware that he had been reprimanded and I was also made aware that that was the end of the matter.

“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.”

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(Chris Radburn/PA)

Asked why the case was reopened, Mr Corbyn said: “Well, it has been reopened and, obviously, there will now be an investigation taking place on this and that’s ongoing.

“I made a decision to put him into the shadow cabinet for a short time and I thought that was the right thing to do. And now the case has been reopened and it will be looked at again.

“He has been suspended from party membership, which is a decision I took immediately I heard about the later revelations.”

Pressed on whether he would make the same decision to appoint Mr Hopkins to the frontbench with hindsight, Mr Corbyn said: “I can’t discuss hindsight, all I can say is that 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.

“But it is now a matter to be investigated and be resolved.”

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