A Labour MP has said she “doesn’t remember” whether she referred to an aide’s shoes as “dyke boots”.
Carolyn Harris, the Deputy Leader of Welsh Labour and Member of Parliament for Swansea East, was testifying in court against her former office manager Jenny Lee Clarke, who is facing fraud charges.
Clarke is accused of forging the MP’s signature to give herself a £2,000 raise in 2015 and reducing her working hours.
But the MP, a former shadow equalities minister, was challenged over her own conduct towards Clarke while appearing in Cardiff Crown Court.
Defence barrister Stephen Donnelly asked Harris whether she made the comment “Look at your dyke boots” to Clarke while her employer.
Harris replied: “I don’t remember saying that but if I did it would have been banter. It’s a term for lesbian. Jenny Clarke is [a lesbian]. I’m certainly not homophobic.
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“I’m an ally of the LGBT community and I have always been.”
According to the Guardian, when asked whether the term “dyke” was “appropriate word in a work environment”, Harris told the court: “Probably not. But Jenny used it herself.”
The court heard that Clarke told Harris that she was gay in 2011.
Denying claims that she had outed her aide to colleagues, the MP replied: “It was quite obvious[Clarke was gay].”
The MP also denied she had shaken Clarke’s head on one occasion “so violently that you pulled clumps of hair out.”
Harris said: “I wouldn’t have shaken her head. This is really distressing to suggest such a thing.”
The MP added that she had a “mutually beneficial friendship” with Clarke and that there was a “lovely atmosphere” in her office.
Clarke denies charges of fraud and forgery.
The trial continues.