Labour has announced that the MP for Sheffield Hallam, Jared O’Mara, has been suspended from the party, after new revelations emerged about sexist and homophobic remarks made on social media.
O’Mara, who unexpectedly beat the former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg in the 8 June election, apologised to his fellow Labour MPs on Monday night, telling them he had been on a “journey” since posting offensive comments more than a decade ago.
However, new allegations have since emerged, including a foulmouthed confrontation with a woman in Sheffield nightclub – which O’Mara denies – and remarks in a music review unearthed by the Guido Fawkes website, which included the phrase “sexy little slags”.
Temporary suspension from the party automatically implies that the Labour whip will be removed from O’Mara while the claims against him are investigated. He had already resigned from parliament’s women and equalities committee.
Several high-profile Labour MPs had called for the suspension. Lucy Powell, the MP for Manchester Central and a former shadow education secretary, told ITV’s After The News: “One of the key questions you’re asked when you become a candidate for the Labour party, and you have to sign a contract to say this, is there anything in your past that would bring the party into disrepute?
“And I don’t understand, in all honesty, how Jared could have signed that paper. That’s why I think he should be suspended while that investigation is taking place.”
Lisa Nandy, another former shadow cabinet minister, also told an event on Tuesday that it was clear O’Mara should have been suspended.
The woman who alleges that she was verbally abused by O’Mara says the incident was witnessed by her friends. She told BBC2’s Daily Politics show that she had first encountered O’Mara on a dating app, and while an initial meeting “didn’t really work out” there were no hard feelings.
She said, however, that O’Mara had later abused her – before he became an MP – when she encountered him while out with friends. Asked what O’Mara said, she replied: “Obviously, some of the things aren’t broadcastable. There were some transphobic slurs in there. He called me an ugly bitch.”
A spokesman for O’Mara said: “He categorically denies the latest allegations.”
A source close to Labour’s national executive committee said O’Mara’s selection in Sheffield had been backed by the local Momentum group, after the 2015 candidate Oliver Coppard did not stand again.
Tweets from the Momentum Sheffield account from the election campaign call on volunteers to campaign for O’Mara, calling him “the pro-Corbyn candidate”.
”There was a real problem in vetting all of those candidates so quickly after a snap election was called, it’s impossible to check almost 3,000 people in a week, apart from their party records, their criminal records and social media,” the source said. “These comments go back on fansites and sports sites from more than a decade ago.”
This article was written by Heather Stewart and Jessica Elgot, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 25th October 2017 11.45 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010