Life

Everything you need to know about Labour’s ongoing sexual harassment complaint

Posted by
Susan Devaney
Published

Labour activist, Ava Etemadzadeh, recently took to Twitter to claim that the Labour party have told her she would have to face direct questions from her sexual harasser, MP Kevin Hopkins. Here, we bring you everything you need to know about the ongoing case.

Since Labour activist, Ava Etemadzadeh, filed a sexual harassment allegation against Labour MP Kevin Hopkins in 2016, it’s been a tough road for her ever since.

And in recent days the case has picked up pace, with Etemadzadeh tweeting that the party’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn, had kept her “anxious and waiting” over the investigation.

She added: “Now his team suggests I should face live questions from my harasser. In the interest of future victims, I have made it clear to UK Labour that under no circumstances will I participate in any meeting of this nature.”

Dawn Butler, who heads up the party’s women and equalities brief, has waded into the conversation via Twitter too.

“In my opinion it is so important that Labour Party procedures are transparent, fair and offer natural justice to survivors/victims and respondents/alleged perpetrators. There is no direct contact between parties as individuals’ welfare takes priority,” she wrote. 

Birmingham Yardley MP Jess Phillips said she would “cut up her Labour Party membership card” were Etemadzadeh forced to engage with Hopkins. 

Now, Labour have said Etemadzadeh will not face direct questioning from Hopkins.

“The process does not allow respondents to respond directly to complainants. The party takes all complaints of harassment extremely seriously,” said a Labour spokesperson.

Follow our timeline below for a better understanding of the events that have occurred before now:

2013 and 2014

Etemadzadeh first met Hopkins in 2013. A year later, she asked him to speak at a Labour event at Essex University, as she was the Chair of the university’s Labour society.

After the event, Etemadzadeh alleges he rubbed his crotch against her.

“He hugged me to say goodbye, held me too tight and rubbed his crotch on me, which I found revolting,” said Etemadzadeh. 

2015

MP Kelvin Hopkins, who has been MP for Luton North since 1997

In 2015, Etemadzadeh went to visit Hopkins Parliament. Since their first meeting in 2013, the pair had shared text messages about the Labour party and was meeting to discuss the General Election.

While at Parliament, Etemadzadeh alleges Hopkins asked her a string of questions about her personal life – including whether or not she had a boyfriend. At one point during their meeting he said that if his office had been empty, he would’ve have liked to have taken her there.

To which, Etemadzadeh said his comment made her feel “uncomfortable”, according to the Telegraph

Throughout the remainder of the month (February) the MP tried calling her several times, but Etemadzadeh ignored his calls. He then sent her a text message, allegedly saying she was a: “lovely young woman - attractive, intelligent, charming and sweet natured. 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.” Etemadzadeh says she was shocked after reading the message, and simply responded by thanking him for his “kind words”.

At the end of 2015, Etemadzadeh spoke with a Labour MP to get some advice on how to deal with the situation. After doing so, she contacted the whips’ office (it handles the government’s legislative programme in the House of Lords) about Hopkins’ behaviour towards her. At the time, Etemadzadeh claimed that weren’t able to act on it because she wished to remain anonymous.

2016

In January 2016, a regional representative wrote to a member of Jeremy Corbyn’s office, informing them about the allegations. However, Etemadzadeh believes they failed to act on it.

“I know the Leader’s office was informed and they didn’t act on it, which is absolutely disgraceful. He was then promoted to the shadow cabinet,” Etemadzadeh told the Telegraph.

“An independent reporting body to deal with these cases would be better.”

At the time, Labour MP Jess Phillips spoke about the decision to promote Hopkins, believing it seemed “wrong”.

“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,” Phillips told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

However, Phillips stressed that she believed Etemadzadeh’s case had been dealt with “perfectly well”.

“I am a bit concerned about the fact that Kelvin was then promoted afterwards, that does seem wrong to me.”

2017

In November 2017, Labour made the decision to suspend Hopkins. The decision appeared to come after sleaze allegations hit Westminster in October, with PM Theresa May vowing to deal with allegations

“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,” said a spokesperson for the Labour party.

“The Labour Party takes all such complaints extremely seriously and has robust procedures in place to deal with them.”

Hopkins admits texting Etemadzadeh but has said he “absolutely and categorically” denies any inappropriate conduct.

Images: Getty