Labour MP Hopkins ‘should not have been promoted after claims about behaviour’
He is the latest MP to become caught up in a wave of allegations over sleaze in Westminster.
Jeremy Corbyn has been criticised by a prominent Labour backbencher for promoting Kelvin Hopkins to the shadow cabinet last year after a young activist had raised allegations about his behaviour with the party.
The Luton North MP has been suspended from Labour while an investigation into claims that he sent suggestive texts and acted inappropriately is carried out.
Ava Etemadzadeh, 27, initially complained to the whips’ office following contact with Mr Hopkins around three years ago, according to the Telegraph.
It is understood that the MP 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 Mr Hopkins in 2014 and 2015.
I'm saddened by Kelvin Hopkins thing, I'm glad the party has suspended him.— Jess Phillips (@jessphillips) November 2, 2017
But he was promoted to the shadow cabinet, where he served as culture spokesman between June and October 2016 following mass resignations which were part of a botched coup attempt against Mr Corbyn.
A complaint made to the leader’s office last year was based on the same information in the initial complaint so no further action was taken.
Ms Etemadzadeh is understood to have given fresh information when she contacted the party about the allegations on Thursday.
Labour MP Jess Phillips said Mr Hopkins should not have been promoted but suspected the decision was “more cock-up than conspiracy”.
She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “There does seem to be a problem with some of the issues over the timeline in this case, and I think that potentially Kelvin Hopkins should not have been promoted.”
Ms Phillips said she believes the case was handled “perfectly well” within the procedures at the time, and that she has spoken to Ms Etemadzadeh who felt “real solidarity” with Dame Rosie.
But she added: “I am a bit concerned about the fact that Kelvin was then promoted afterwards, that does seem wrong to me. I think actually it’s probably more cock-up than conspiracy if I’m allowed to say cock-up on the radio.
“I don’t think that it was sort of political expediency; I think that people just didn’t take it as seriously as it needed to be taken.”
Mr Hopkins is the latest MP to become caught up in a wave of allegations over sleaze in Westminster.
Sir Michael Fallon, who quit as Defence Secretary on Wednesday after admitting that his behaviour had “fallen below the high standards required” in the role, was reportedly forced out after Cabinet colleague Andrea Leadsom passed a dossier of claims to Number 10.
Sources close to the Tory MP said he “fundamentally denied” claims that he made a crude joke to the Commons Leader, while Mrs Leadsom’s team and Number 10 declined to comment.
Prime Minister Theresa May has faced a backlash after appointing former chief whip Gavin Williamson, who has never held ministerial office, to replace Sir Michael.
Tory former defence minister Anna Soubry said: “It does rather look like he picked himself a plum job.”
It does rather look like he picked himself a plum job. https://t.co/4HRUsR8MTT— Anna Soubry MP (@Anna_Soubry) November 2, 2017
Mrs May has called a meeting of all party leaders on Monday to agree a new system of dealing with abuse complaints in Parliament.
Labour said it takes complaints “extremely seriously” and has “robust” systems in place to deal with them.
A spokesman said on Thursday: “On the basis of allegations received by the Labour Party today, Kelvin Hopkins has been suspended from party membership, and therefore the Labour whip, while an investigation takes place.
“The Labour Party takes all such complaints extremely seriously and has robust procedures in place to deal with them.”