Cumbrian MP John Woodcock has been suspended from the Labour Party over ‘sex pest’ allegations – and his self-defence when his suspension came to light clearly revealed the hypocrisy of the Labour right.
Woodcock pleaded for due process and none of his fellow Blairites seemed to find it objectionable – which was a stark contrast with the right’s rush to judge left-wing MPs facing similar allegations.
At the time, Woodcock said he was ‘committed to a thorough and fair investigation‘. However, in a remarkable outburst on social media reminiscent of Radovan Karadzic’s refusal to recognise the validity of the court in The Hague, he has now said he is ‘withdrawing cooperation‘ from the investigation – after making what appear to be scandalous and potentially libellous allegations against Labour’s General Secretary Jennie Formby.
On Sunday morning, Woodcock tweeted a letter he had sent to the party – and a peculiar diatribe sent by his lawyers – with his announcement:
In his original defence, Woodcock had blamed ‘one of… very few individuals‘ for the release of information to mainstream media about the allegations against him.
But in his latest letter – addressed to Ms Formby herself – after announcing that he was ‘withdrawing my co-operation’, he appears to allege that she personally had leaked details of the allegations to him:
If this is what Woodcock means and he fails to clarify or withdraw his words and is unable to substantiate them, it could leave him open to legal action for libel now that he has released the letter publicly on social media.
The letter also claims that political criticism of his behaviour – of which there has been much, because of his frequent undermining of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn – means he will not be fairly treated by the party.
Woodcock’s laughable comment about Labour’s supposed ‘disdain for due process and the rule of law‘ again highlights the hypocrisy of the Labour right, which has been perfectly happy to try accused left-wingers in public.
But the idea that political criticisms preclude a fair process is also insulting to Labour’s ‘NCC’, its senior disciplinary body, many of whose members are in any case from Woodcock’s wing of the party.
The SKWAWKBOX emailed Jon Woodcock to ask whether he had any evidence for his comments about Jennie Formby – and whether he wished to try to defend his conflation of political criticism with ‘tainted’ process. He has not responded.
A Labour spokesperson told the SKWAWKBOX:
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. The process is the same for everyone.
We are determined to challenge and overturn sexual harassment and misogyny within politics and the corridors of power, and across society as a whole.
Woodcock’s desire for exceptional treatment will not surprise many on the left of the party – but Labour’s NCC is still dominated by the right, so it may not turn out to have been a wise move.
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