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Labour opens investigation into MP who called gay people ‘fudge packers’ and ‘poofters’

Josh Jackman October 24, 2017
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(Getty)

(Getty)

Labour has opened an investigation into an MP who referred to gay people as “fudge packers” and “poofters”.

Jared O’Mara, the Labour MP for Sheffield Hallam, was forced to resign from the Women and Equalities Committee this week after revelations about over online posts made under his name.

PinkNews understands that O’Mara’s party whip will not be suspended during the investigation.

In a statement, a Labour spokesperson said: “The Party is investigating Jared O’Mara MP in relation to comments and behaviour which have been reported from earlier this year.”

The move comes after Government minister Justine Greening wrote to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to urge him to investigate O’Mara.

And Liberal Democrats leader Vince Cable had called on the Labour Party to withdraw O’Mara’s whip straight away.

Cable said: “This is completely unacceptable behaviour.

“If he did make these remarks Labour needs to withdraw the whip from him immediately.

“People must have confidence that MPs will stand up against prejudice. As MPs we cannot let ourselves fall short of those standards, particularly in our dealings with the public,” the former Business Secretary added.

“One thing is for sure, the Labour Party need to review their selection process for general election candidates.”

However, it is understood that the announcement of an investigation into O’Mara was not a response to Greening’s letter or Cable’s statement.

In a stinging attack on Labour’s record, the Minister for Women and Equalities said O’Mara’s comments showed “the deep and persistent stain on Labour’s ability to represent women, the LGBT community and wider society.”

Greening, who is also the Secretary of State for Education, asked: “Will you be investigating the latest allegations made against Jared O’Mara MP?

“How is it that individuals who have made such remarks can be selected as Labour candidates?

“Will you be removing the whip from him while the investigation is carried out?”

The comments Greening refers to in the letter date from 2002 to 2004, when O’Mara was a local Labour candidate and in his early 20s.

(Chris Jepson)
(Chris Jepson)

In posts on music forums, a user known as ‘gingerjared’ referred to gay people as “fudge packers” and “poofters”, also alluding to anal sex as “driving up the Marmite motorway”.

Earlier today, it was revealed that Corbyn would not take any action against O’Mara.

Greening, who won Politician of the Year at the PinkNews Awards last week, pointed out that at least one prominent Labour MP had voiced their support of O’Mara.

“This morning a member of your Shadow Cabinet, Angela Rayner MP, defended Mr O’Mara, implying that he was a now reformed character given that he made some of these comments fifteen years ago,” wrote Greening.

“However, it has since been alleged that Mr O’Mara made misogynistic comments to a young woman in a night club just seven months ago.”

(Twitter/Joe Pike)
(Twitter/Joe Pike)

Greening, who became the first out woman to serve in the Cabinet when she came out during last year’s Pride in London celebrations, urged Corbyn to act.

“Violent, sexist and homophobic language must have no place in our society,” she said.

Greening added that “parliamentarians of all parties have a duty to stamp out this sort of behaviour wherever we encounter it, and condemn it in the strongest possible terms.”

(Twitter/Joe Pike)
(Twitter/Joe Pike)

She concluded: “It is time you step forward, as Leader of the Labour Party, and send a message that this sort of behaviour will not be tolerated.”

O’Mara is understood to have made a ‘full and frank’ apology behind closed doors to the Parliamentary Labour Party meeting last night.

A source close to Corbyn told The Times: “Jared apologised to the parliamentary Labour Party this evening and owned up to having previously been sexist and homophobic.

“His honesty, openness and commitment to tackling these issues was well received by colleagues.”

His apology speech to the PLP has not been made public.

Speaking to Huck Magazine – in an interview which PinkNews was referred to by his office – O’Mara said he did not plan to resign.

“In terms of resigning as an MP? I think there’s a place for me… I want to educate people and help people going through those prejudices grow out of them,” he said.

“I’ve gone on that journey and feel I can help. If a Conservative MP had made similar comments I’d say it depends on what journey they had been on since.

“If they’d honestly changed and believes in equality and egalitarianism then absolutely [they have a place in Parliament], but the very culture of Conservatism doesn’t foster that equality.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 18:  Joint winner of the Politician of the Year award, Justine Greening, Secretary of State for Education, speaks on stage during the Pink News Awards 2017 held at One Great George Street on October 18, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images)
(Getty)

O’Mara added: “It’s important to take ownership of the things you’ve done wrong.

“That’s why I’m not hiding, I’m not going back to my hotel and switching my phone off. I’m dealing with this head on.

“There’s no room for the views I had as a young man in 2017 society, there was not room for those views back then either.”

Related topics: Angela Rayner, cabinet, Conservative Party, Government, Jared O'Mara, Jeremy Corbyn, justine greening, Labour party, Minister for Women and Equalities, Politics, Secretary of State for Education, UK

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