Simon Danczuk: I won't be dragged through a kangaroo court


Simon Danczuk has said he will not be “dragged through a kangaroo court” after he was suspended by the Labour party following reports that he sent sexual messages to a teenager.

The MP for Rochdale conceded that he had “been silly” and had previously admitted that he had a drink problem, following a report in the Sun that he had sent explicit texts to 17-year-old Sophena Houlihan after she asked him for a job as a case worker in his constituency office.

“I know I’ve been silly and I’ve said I’m extremely sorry, but I’m not going to be dragged through a kangaroo court so my enemies can exact revenge,” said Danczuk. “I expect to be treated the same as any other MP.”

Danczuk’s comments came after the Sunday Times reported that Labour was preparing to expel him permanently from the party. A source familiar with the inquiry had told the paper that the focus would be on claims that Danczuk abused his position by making sexual references to someone who had asked him for employment.

The MP, who has been a fierce critic of the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, was suspended by his party pending an investigation shortly after the texting allegations were published on New Year’s Eve. Further allegations about his private life then followed.

On Sunday, Danczuk’s first wife told the Mail on Sunday that the MP was a sexual predator. Sonia Rossington, who was married to the politician for a decade, accused him of drug-taking and sexually abusive behaviour during their marriage.

Rossington claimed the pair’s two teenage children intended to change their surnames following the allegations.

“I’m appalled at his disgusting behaviour with this young woman who is only a few years older than his daughter – but no, not surprised,” said Rossington, who divorced Danczuk in 2010. “To be honest, I was waiting for something like this to happen.

“I think this has been his modus operandi for years,” she alleged. “He’s a sexual predator who made my life hell.”

Danczuk responded to Rossington’s claims, telling the Mail on Sunday: “She is consumed by bitterness, is susceptible to drinking too much and is telling lies.”

The MP declined to comment further on Sunday, but a friend of Danczuk’s said: “Some of the allegations [made by the MP’s ex-wife] are clearly criminal, but she’s never been to the police or anything like that. The Mail wanted a story and I don’t think there was much around this weekend ... It’s been a really unedifying bidding war in which [newspapers have] just been buying up different people.”

He added: “All of this is immaterial and irrelevant in terms of the investigation he faces in the Labour party, because that’s not going to focus on anything to do with his ex-girlfriend or his ex-wife or any other kind of tittle tattle.”

The MP has been a prominent campaigner against child sexual exploitation and played a leading role in exposing his predecessor as MP for Rochdale, Sir Cyril Smith, as a paedophile.

Danczuk allegedly told Houlihan that he was “horny” and asked her if she wanted spanking.

The MP later told the Sun on Sunday that an alcohol problem had led him to send the messages and that younger women were his “achilles heel”.

Corbyn: Simon Danczuk will face independent investigation

A friend of Danczuk’s said: “This is clearly a very distasteful episode, but Jeremy Corbyn can’t introduce some kind of new moral threshold which only applies to Simon and not any other MP. In terms of parliamentary sex scandals, this isn’t even a footnote. He’s never met this person.”

The besieged MP won some support from Jacqui Smith, who accused the party of prejudging its inquiry into him. She tweeed: “This irresponsible briefing risks bringing [Labour] disciplinary action into disrepute and opening it to challenge.”

The Conservative MPs Stewart Jackson and Michael Fabricant responded to the news of the MP’s suspension by tweeting that they suspected Danczuk had been swiftly suspended due to criticism of the Labour leadership.

Asked earlier this week whether Danczuk’s suspension had anything to do with his trenchant opposition to his leadership, Corbyn said the MP had been suspended because of Thursday’s media reports and nothing else.

Danczuk had tried to explain his conduct by saying that he liked younger women. “My first wife was 10 years younger than me, my second wife was 17 years younger, my last girlfriend is 17 years younger,” Danczuk told the paper. “Some men like older women, some like younger women, some like brunettes, some like blondes.

“I have a drink problem, and that is a major contributory reason why I sent the messages. I’ve seen a psychiatrist about it and he’s told me to stop drinking for six months. I feel awful about what happened. I don’t know what came over me.”

The MP’s former girlfriend and a Labour councillor for Leyland Central told the Sunday Mirror that the MP was “a total embarrassment to Rochdale” and was unfit to be a member of parliament.

Powered by article was written by Frances Perraudin, for The Guardian on Sunday 3rd January 2016 20.07 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010