In an explosive story broken this evening, the Independent reveals that Baroness Alicia Kennedy, chief of staff Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson, was accused of bullying and targeting a black Watson staffer – who also claims she was made redundant because she is black.
Kennedy is a former deputy general secretary of the party and considered a member of the West Midlands Labour right ‘royalty’.
Tom Watson has called for the summary suspension of a whole CLP (constituency Labour party) for bullying – merely for tabling motions of no confidence against an MP, even though there was no evidence that the CLP had acted wrongly.
Yet when his chief of staff, , was the subject of detailed allegations of bullying, harassment and possible racism toward a black colleague, Watson was not hammering down the door of Labour’s Southside HQ demanding her suspension.
On the contrary, he appears not to have acted at all.
A source close to Baroness Kennedy’s told the Independent the allegations were ‘untrue and highly damaging’.
Watson – who earlier today stormed out of a Shadow Cabinet meeting – has been accused of ‘foul’ and ‘appalling’ behaviour during inappropriate interventions recently in cases involving his allies or opponents. He was also accused by a woman councillor in his home borough of Sandwell of making her ‘life a misery’ by bullying her.
He has not responded when asked to comment.
The case will be heard by an employment tribunal in September.
Baroness Kennedy has not yet been ‘found guilty’ of anything and must be afforded due process in full. But she must certainly be suspended pending the outcome of the investigation – and Tom Watson must answer for his failure to act and his double-standards on disciplinary matters.
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