Stephen Hepburn: Labour MP suspended over sexual harassment allegation

Jarrow MP facing investigation into claims he was ‘predatory’ towards young party member in 2005

Benjamin Kentish
Political Correspondent
Monday 07 October 2019 12:51
Speaker John Bercow makes Commons remarks on Westminster bullying

Labour MP Stephen Hepburn has been suspended by the party following an allegation of sexual harassment, it is understood.

The Jarrow MP is facing a disciplinary investigation into claims of inappropriate behaviour towards a young woman 14 years ago.

It was reported in March that the 59-year-old had allegedly harassed a female party member, then in her 20s, in 2005.

It is understood that the decision to suspend the MP was taken by a panel consisting of members of Labour’s ruling body, the National Executive Committee (NEC), and following advice from an independent barrister.

The case will now be referred to the party’s main disciplinary panel, the National Constitutional Committee, to carry out an investigation.

A Labour Party spokesperson said: “The Labour Party takes all complaints of sexual harassment extremely seriously, which are fully investigated and any appropriate disciplinary action taken in line with the party’s rules and procedures.

“We are determined to challenge and overturn sexual harassment and misogyny within politics and across society as a whole. We cannot comment on individual complaints.”

According to HuffPost UK, which reported the initial allegation, a complaint about the MP was first lodged two years ago but subsequently dropped.

It was reportedly reopened after another MP submitted evidence saying they had witnessed Mr Hepburn corner the young woman at a curry restaurant, allowing her “little or no freedom of movement”.

The witness is reported to have claimed that Mr Hepburn had been “predatory” and had “crossed the line between tactile and aggressive” after suggesting that he accompany the woman home in a taxi.

Mr Hepburn said he “completely refutes” the allegation.

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