Leaked email verified by Skwawkbox accuses Labour’s candidate of withholding wages and using publicly-funded parliamentary staff to run West Midlands mayoral campaign – no sign of action by party
Right-wing Labour MP and West Midlands metro mayor candidate Liam Byrne is using his publicly-funded parliamentary staff to run his mayoral campaign, according to an email sent by a former staff member to Labour’s National Executive Committee.
The email, whose authenticity Skwawkbox has verified with NEC members, was sent to the NEC on 6 March and was supposed to be discussed by the ‘officers group’ – which contains no left-wingers since a right-wing coup earlier this year – but appears to have seen no action. The message also claims that the party’s acting general secretary David Evans’s office was made aware and said in January that the matter was being investigated, but has taken no action and failed to arrange a meeting repeatedly requested over a two-month period by the former staffer’s union representative.
The former staff member told the NEC that Byrne:
- owes the former staffer more than £11k in unpaid salary, leaving the employee working for a year below the legal minimum wage
- played arbitration service Acas and parliamentary standards body IPSA off against each other about the matter to avoid an employment tribunal deadline
- damaged at least one staff member’s mental health because of the stress of ‘containing’ the misuse of parliamentary resources
- told Acas that he had instructed IPSA to make the outstanding payment, but IPSA said no such instruction had been received and that they had been told the matter was with Acas
- made a partial payment in December but not in full, with the delay causing the deadline for tribunal action to be missed
- said in January that he now considers the staff’s overtime hours voluntary and therefore non-payable
The staff member, who said their own wages were paid from Byrne’s parliamentary budget despite doing work that was ‘100% non-parliamentary’ and that a party contract promised by Byrne never materialised, called on Labour to select a new candidate to salvage its prospects of winning the ‘metro mayor’ election and the campaigns of other candidates in the region.
The former staffer pleaded with the party:
It is now my belief and fear that this will emerge shortly before the May elections, guaranteeing a loss in the West Midlands and hurting the party in a series of other crucial elections – particularly if it appears the Party knew all of this and did nothing. I also fear now that, as Liam intends to leave Parliament whether or not he wins or loses in the May election, with him will go any chance of reclaiming my lost wages.
One local election candidate in the area, who did not want to be named, told Skwawkbox:
Basically half his team have left and the rest are his parliamentary staff and he’s making them work full-time on the mayoral election [which is] not parliamentary work.
He could be suspended over this and damage the rest of us running for election this year – and then we won’t actually have a bloody candidate on the ballot paper!!!
Mr Byrne was contacted for comment, but had not responded by the publication deadline.
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