Suspended Labour MP quits 'politically motivated' sexual harassment probe

An MP suspended from Labour over sexual harassment claims has told the party he will no longer co-operate with an internal investigation into his behaviour because he believes it is politically motivated.

John Woodcock, a vocal critic of Jeremy Corbyn and his leadership, has written to general secretary Jennie Formby alleging that the disciplinary process against him is "tainted".

The Barrow and Furness MP is reported to be accused of sending inappropriate texts and emails to a former female staff member between 2014 and 2016, which he denies.

John Woodcock has written to Labour's general secretary Jennie Formby Credit: Press Association

In his letter to Ms Formby, seen by the Mail on Sunday, he said that investigations into sexual harassment must be fair to all parties, with "no heed given to the defendant or complainant's opinion of Jeremy Corbyn's leadership."

He added: "Regardless of whether other Labour members share my misgivings about Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, no one should be prepared to tolerate the disdain for due process and the rule of law that has been allowed to fester within Labour."

When he was suspended in April, Mr Woodcock said he was "very concerned" that "selective" details of the case had been disclosed and that Labour's new general secretary Ms Formby had cited the publicity as a reason to suspend the whip.

John Woodcock was suspended by Labour following a complaint of sexual harassment Credit: Press Association

The MP, who was first elected in 2010, said the complaint was made against him in November 2017 and the following month he was informed that the complaint had been referred to the party's disciplinary body, the national constitutional committee, for a hearing "early in the new year".

In his letter he questioned comments alleged to have been made by Ms Formby in 2013 where she is said to have suggested the party "ditch Blairites" - a reference to supporters of Tony Blair such as Mr Woodcock.

In his letter he continued: "If you genuinely believe in changing the culture in politics rather than using accusations as a way to silence Mr Corbyn's critics, you should agree to make arrangements to transfer my case and others into the independent system which many campaigners are working hard to establish, or ask the Law Society to appoint an independent arbiter."

John Woodcock MP says he's being punished for his opinion of the Labour leader Credit: Press Association

A Labour Party spokeswoman 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 party rules and procedures.

"We are determined to challenging and overturning sexual harassment and misogyny within politics and the corridors of power, and across society as a whole."