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Theresa May aide who ‘outed’ gay Brexit whistleblower is joining the House of Lords

Emma Powys Maurice September 10, 2019

Stephen Parkinson outed Shahmir Sanni in a public statement in March 2018, putting his Pakistani family in serious danger (FT/YouTube)

A Downing Street aide who was accused of placing a Pakistani whistleblower in ‘serious danger’ by publicly outing him has been appointed to the House of Lords by Theresa May.

In March 2018, Stephen Parkinson issued a statement in defence of the Vote Leave campaign after his fellow aide, Shahmir Sanni, revealed that the campaign had far exceeded its legal spending limit.

The public statement disclosed that he and Sanni had been in an 18-month relationship, forcing Sanni to come out to his parents and putting his family in Pakistan in serious danger. Urgent protective measures had to be taken to ensure their safety.

It is believed to be the first time an official Downing Street statement has been used to out someone. Sanni said he believes the detail about his sexuality was included “to make it seem that this was a vendetta, when it is not about me”.

He later told The Guardian that the revelation caused him to lose “pretty much everything. My job. My friends, my career. My privacy. My sense of the future”.

The appointment of Parkinson to the House of Lords was made in the former prime minister’s resignation honours list.

Shahmir Sanni (L) discusses his forced ‘outing’ at a press conference at the Frontline Club in London on March 26, 2018. (TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty)

Theresa May stood by Parkinson as he faced mounting pressure to resign, saying that the aide “does a very good job”. She has now appointed him to the House of Lords in a resignation honours list which critics say reeks of “rotten” cronyism.

The peerage grants Parkinson lifetime membership to the House of Lords, an allowance of up to £305 for every day he chooses to attend and the right to call himself ‘Baron Stephen Parkinson’.

Sanni tweeted: “Honestly I don’t care if Theresa May has given the man that outed me a peerage. My path has been an honest one, a just one, a vindicated one. Their paths have been riddled with hate, violence, and pure evil.

“I am content with the fact that history books will remember this.”

Among the 56 others to have been honoured are May’s former chiefs of staff Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, who led her disastrous 2017 election campaign and would later be nicknamed “the terrible twins” for accusations of bullying.

More: honours list, house of lords, Shahmir Sanni, Stephen Parkinson, Theresa May, uk politics

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