A lot of people in the public eye – particularly journalists and politicians – seem to be afraid to say this at the moment for fear it could damage their career or their party.
It would be extremely naive indeed to think there aren’t people cynical enough in politics to use the current appalling sex scandals engulfing Westminster for their own nefarious political ends. Truth is never black and white. It is always complicated. And so it is with the Westminster sexual harassment cases coming out at the moment.
Some of the accusations are appalling, particularly the accusations that serious crimes been covered up by both the Tory, Lib Dem and Labour leaderships. I hope in these cases the perpetrators are named and shamed and justice is served: It was also absolutely right in my view to call out supposedly less serious behaviour by politicians – such as Labour MP Jared O’Mara’s horrible homophobic and misogynist comments. But it’s becoming increasingly hard to differentiate between the very real and appalling cases being reported – including accusations of serious assault and rape – and cases which are simply attempts to smear political opponents under cover of the scandal. Which brings me to the case of Labour MP Kelvin Hopkins. There was a lot of genuine head-scratching in and around Westminster when Hopkins – the 76-year old left-wing MP for Luton North – was accused of sexual harassment by a young Labour activist.
Unlike other MPs accused in the current sex scandals – where serial cases of similar behaviour are quite rightly offered as proof of guilt – during Hopkins’ decades-long political career, there have been no other previous suspicions, gossip or accusations of this kind against him. Quite the opposite in fact. Even some of Hopkins’ opponents have been surprised by the allegations against him: “As a former Conservative Chairman I was often in the presence of both Kelvin & Margaret Moran.
She was hard and hostile to political opponents, whereas he would always say hello, chat, sometimes (at counts) about our respective campaigns, he was always full of cheer and thoroughly decent. I have always liked him and wished he was the Luton South MP as he lives near me, rather than Luton North. I cannot believe these allegations. They don’t make sense, and things that don’t make sense usually aren’t true. Last time I checked we still have a presumption of innocence until proven guilty in this country, so let’s stop this trial by media. Kelvin has my full support.” Of course, just because a case of harassment is a one-off complaint and seemingly out of character from previous behaviour, it doesn’t necessarily mean the person accused is not-guilty.
Because looking at the details of the case, it’s clear he is the victim of an attempt to cynically use the harassment scandal to smear him as a Corbyn and Brexit supporter, as well as an attempt to smear the Labour leader himself. That’s my opinion. Here’s a summary of the evidence. Make your own mind up. There are just two accusations against Hopkins from the same accuser. The first accusation was first made in 2015, soon after Jeremy Corbyn became Labour leader. Hopkins was one of the few MPs who nominated Corbyn.
The complaint related to a text message Hopkins had sent to his accuser, but contrary to some press reports it did not include the second more serious accusation that in 2014, Hopkins had rubbed himself against her. This more serious accusation only appeared in the last few days in an interview with the Daily Telegraph. What we do know is that Hopkins was reprimanded by the then Labour whip Rosie Winterton (more about her later) for sending this text: While this message might be considered to be inappropriate, it’s not exactly the crime of the century. But there is something very odd about it. It is clearly in reply to a previous message or conversation.
Hopkins’ accuser – through her Daily Telegraph minders – has not responded to requests to reveal what communication the text is in reply to. And as mentioned before, Hopkins refuses to discuss anything connected with his accuser. Without any context, it’s hard to judge just how inappropriate the message is. To me, it looks like he could be letting her down gently for some reason, but who knows? The second only recently-made accusation – which contrary to press reports was not part of the original complaint that Hopkins was given a reprimand for – is that in 2014 Hopkins ‘ground his groin’ against his accuser while saying goodbye to her after a talk at her university. This allegation is completely refuted by Hopkins: “I absolutely and categorically deny that I in any way engaged in any such inappropriate conduct. I simply put an arm around her shoulder to give her a brief, slight hug just before getting in to my car. I did not hold her tight. I did not rub any part of my body, let alone my crotch, against Ava.
She waved me off as I drove away and did not say anything whatsoever to suggest that anything had occurred that upset her let alone revolted her.” But the real problem with this new accusation is that when it was alleged to have taken place doesn’t make any sense at all in the timeline of known messages. On the 12.11.2014 after an Essex University talk, the alleged groin grind was supposed to have taken place. But later that same evening, after the alleged event, Hopkins’ accuser sent this text to him: ‘Thank you so much Kelvin for coming tonight!! We had a fantastic time. My members loved you! You’re a star! x Ava.’ And just a month later, on the 15.12.2014 Hopkins received this message from his accuser: ‘Hi Kelvin, how are you? Could you please send me your post address? I’d like to send you a Christmas card. x Ava.’ In 2016, Hopkins’ accuser also contacted the MP to enquire about getting a job in Westminster. After a ‘friendly’ conversation, Hopkins told her he had no vacancies.
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