Labour MP Kelvin Hopkins is suspended from the party
Hopkins, 76, has been MP for Luton North since Labour's election win in 1997 Ava Etemadzadeh, 2..
- Hopkins, 76, has been MP for Luton North since Labour's election win in 1997
- Ava Etemadzadeh, 27, complained to whips' office and Jeremy Corbyn's office
- She said: 'He hugged me and rubbed his crotch on me, which I found revolting'
- He also served as Jeremy Corbyn's shadow culture secretary last summer
- Labour spokesperson said investigation would be launched into 'allegations'
By James Tapsfield, Political Editor For Mailonline and Alex Matthews For Mailonline
Published: 16:39 EDT, 2 November 2017 | Updated: 14:24 EDT, 3 November 2017
Labour tonight appointed a barrister to probe allegations from a prominent activist that she was told to cover up being raped at a party event in 2011.
Karon Monaghan QC will investigate what happened to Bex Bailey as Labour scrambles to respond to the growing harassment scandal engulfing Westminster.
Jeremy Corbyn faced questions today after it emerged he had promoted an MP to the shadow cabinet after his office was told of harassment allegations.
Kelvin Hopkins was suspended from Labour over the claims last night but they were first passed to party officials three years ago.
Ava Etemadzadeh, 27, has said she initially complained to the whips' office about Mr Hopkins around three years ago. Mr Corbyn's office was aware of the allegations before he made Mr Hopkins shadow culture secretary last summer.
Labour also announced tonight it would soon appoint an independent specialist organisation for party members to report harassment. The party is discussing its needs with several external agencies, a statement said.
Karon Monaghan QC will investigate what happened to Bex Bailey (pictured) as Labour scrambles to respond to the growing harassment scandal engulfing Westminster
Labour MP Kelvin Hopkins (pictured left) has been suspended from the party over allegations of harassment. Ava Etemadzadeh, 27 (pictured right) has said she initially complained to the whips' office about Mr Hopkins around three years ago
It is understood the 76-year-old politician was reprimanded for inappropriate behaviour by then-chief whip Dame Rosie Winterton when Ms Etemadzadeh.
Another complaint made to the leader's office last year is said to have been based on the same information so no further action was taken.
LABOUR SUSPENDS WELSH AM AFTER NEW ALLEGATIONS
Labour suspended a second senior politician in less than 24 hours today after Carl Sargeant resigned from the Welsh Government.
Mr Sargeant was confronted with 'allegations' about his 'personal conduct' by Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones.
The AM, who was Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children, said he was resigning to clear his name despite not knowing what the allegations are.
He was suspended from Labour less than 24 hours after the party in London also launched a probe into veteran MP Kelvin Hopkins.
Mr Sargeant said he was told about the allegations by Mr Jones but had not been given details about the claims.
'I met with the First Minister today and he informed me allegations had been made about my personal conduct, which was shocking and distressing to me,' the Alyn and Deeside AM said in a statement on Twitter.
'The details of the allegations have yet to be disclosed to me.
'I have written to the general secretary of Welsh Labour requesting an urgent independent investigation into these allegations in order to allow me to clear my name.
But despite the allegations, Mr Corbyn promoted his left-wing ally from the backbenches to serve as shadow culture secretary in June last year. He stepped down from the post last October.
Mr Hopkins, MP for Luton North, was only suspended by the party last night after fresh questions were asked about his conduct. He has yet to respond to the allegations.
Mr Hopkins is the first Labour MP to be named in the Westminster sexual harassment scandal.
Ms Etemadzadeh told the Daily Telegraph: 'I know the leader's office was informed and they didn't act on it, which is disgraceful.'
She said she met Mr Hopkins in 2013, and the following year invited him to speak at Essex University, where she was chairman of the campus Labour society.
She told the Telegraph that afterwards: 'He hugged me… held me too tight and rubbed his crotch on me, which I found revolting.'
He is also alleged to have texted: 'A nice young man would be lucky to have you as a girlfriend and lover … Were I to be young… but I am not.
'Always your friend, and if you ever need a friend you have my number… xxx'.
Miss Etemadzadeh said she thanked him for his 'kind words' to defuse what he had said. Mr Hopkins was unavailable for comment last night.
Mr Hopkins, who has represented Luton North since 1997, will now be the subject of an internal investigation.
Mr Hopkins, 76, has been MP for Luton North since 1997 and served as Jeremy Corbyn's shadow culture secretary last summer.
Despite allegations, Mr Corbyn promoted his left-wing ally from the backbenches to serve as shadow culture secretary in June last year
A Labour spokesman said: 'On the basis of allegations received by the Labour Party today, Kelvin Hopkins has been suspended from party membership, and therefore the Labour whip, while an investigation takes place.
'The Labour Party takes all such complaints extremely seriously and has robust procedures in place to deal with them.'
Mr Hopkins was one 36 MPs to nominate Jeremy Corbyn for leader of the Labour party in 2015.
Labour MP Jess Phillips told BBC Radio 4's Today programme Mr Hopkins should not have been promoted and the allegations did not appear to have been taken 'seriously' enough.
'There does seem to be a problem with some of the issues over the timeline in this case, and I think that potentially Kelvin Hopkins should not have been promoted,' she said.
Ms Phillips said she believes the case was handled 'perfectly well' within the procedures at the time, and that she has spoken to Ms Etemadzadeh who felt 'real solidarity' with Dame Rosie.
But she added: 'I am a bit concerned about the fact that Kelvin was then promoted afterwards, that does seem wrong to me. 'I think actually it's probably more cock-up than conspiracy if I'm allowed to say cock-up on the radio. 'I don't think that it was sort of political expediency; I think that people just didn't take it as seriously as it needed to be taken.'
Westminster is currently engulfed by a sex scandal, which saw Defence Secretary Michael Fallon resign yesterday.
In a resignation statement, the Defence Secretary, 65, said his past behaviour had 'fallen below the high standards we require of the Armed Forces'.
Theresa May was today forced to carry out an emergency mini reshuffle following Sir Michael's resignation, with chief whip Gavin Williamson installed as his replacement.
Mr Fallon's departure came after a explosive document, full of allegations against Conservative party members, was revealed.
Jess Phillips, pictured left with fellow Labour MP Stella Creasy at the Spectator Awards, said Labour will also need to 'clear out' its ranks of anyone found to have sexually assaulted or harassed people
Sir Michael Fallon (left yesterday) sensationally resigned as defence secretary (right with his wife Wendy) amid a growing Westminster harassment scandal
The dirty dossier runs to 42 names in total, and encompasses all levels of the Tory party.
It features six Cabinet-level ministers,12 lower-ranking ministers and some 10 former ministers, including a handful who served in the highest ranks of government, are also on the roll call.
But while a number of the MPs are alleged to have acted inappropriately, around 15 of the claims relate to consensual relationships or personal sexual preferences – without any apparent misconduct.
Labour has also been rocked by allegations – including that former NEC member Bex Bailey was raped by a senior official but told not to report it in case it harmed her career.
Labour MP John Mann has warned that a slew of other allegations could emerge as more women come forward.
Among the allegations are claims an unnamed senior Labour MP has been reported to the Leader's Office for abuse of a woman.
A second Labour MP is being privately accused of sexual assault of a woman – but they remain unnamed.
A third senior Labour MP is accused of 'wandering hands' and being over-friendly at student discos.
While The New Statesman reports other 'allegations of sexual misconduct that the party advised women to drop'.
While Labour MP Chi Onwurah told the Commons she had raised complaints about MPs' behaviour to young staff in parliament's bars.
[contf] [contfnew] [hhm]Daily Mail[hhmc] [contfnewc] [contfnewc]
Why Australia decided to quit its vaping habit
He’s talking about students in his class, teenagers, who can’t stop vaping.
He sees the effect of the candy-flavoured, nicotine-packed e-cigarettes on young minds every day, with children even vaping in class.
“The ones who are deepest into it will just get up out of their seat, or they’ll be fidgeting or nervous. The worst offenders will just walk out because they’re literally in withdrawal.”
Those who are most addicted need nicotine patches or rehabilitation, he says, talking about 13 and 14-year-olds.
is enough and introduced a range of new restrictions. Despite vapes already being illegal for many, under new legislation they will become available by prescription only.
The number of vaping teenagers in Australia has soared in recent years and authorities say it is the “number one behavioural issue” in schools across the country.
And they blame disposable vapes – which some experts say could be more addictive than heroin and cocaine – but for now are available in Australia in every convenience store, next to the chocolate bars at the counter.
For concerned teachers like Chris, their hands have been tied.
“If we suspect they have a vape, all we can really do is tell them to go to the principal’s office.
“At my old school, my head teacher told me he wanted to install vape detector alarms in the toilet, but apparently we weren’t allowed to because that would be an invasion of privacy.”
E-cigarettes have been sold as a safer alternative to tobacco, as they do not produce tar – the primary cause of lung cancer.
Some countries continue to promote them with public health initiatives to help cigarette smokers switch to a less deadly habit.
Last month, the UK government announced plans to hand out free vaping starter kits to one million smokers in England to get smoking rates below 5% by 2030.
But Australia’s government says that evidence that e-cigarettes help smokers quit is insufficient for now. Instead, research shows it may push young vapers into taking up smoking later in life.
Vapes, or e-cigarettes, are lithium battery-powered devices that have cartridges filled with liquids containing nicotine, artificial flavourings, and other chemicals.
The liquid is heated and turned into a vapour and inhaled into the user’s lungs.
Vaping took off from the mid-2000s and there were some 81 million vapers worldwide in 2021, according to the Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction group.
Fuelling the rise is the mushrooming popularity of flavoured vapes designed to appeal to the young.
These products can contain far higher volumes of nicotine than regular cigarettes, while some devices sold as ‘nicotine-free’ can actually hold large amounts.
The chemical cocktail also contains formaldehyde, and acetaldehyde – which have been linked to lung disease, heart disease, and cancer.
There’s also a suggestion of an increased risk of stroke, respiratory infection, and impaired lung function.
Experts warn not enough is known about the long-term health effects. But some alarming data has already been drawn out.
In 2020, US health authorities identified more than 2,800 cases of e-cigarette or vaping-related lung injury. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found 68 deaths attributed to that injury.
In Australia, a major study by leading charity The Cancer Council found more than half of all children who had ever vaped had used an e-cigarette they knew contained nicotine and thought that vaping was a socially acceptable behaviour.
School-age children were being supplied with e-cigarettes through friends or “dealers” inside and outside school, or from convenience stores and tobacconists, the report said.
Teens also reported purchasing vapes through social media, websites and at pop-up vape stores, the Generation Vape project found.
“Whichever way teenagers obtain e-cigarettes, they are all illegal, yet it’s happening under the noses of federal and state authorities”, report author and Cancer Council chair Anita Dessaix said.
“All Australian governments say they’re committed to ensuring e-cigarettes are only accessed by smokers with a prescription trying to quit – yet a crisis in youth e-cigarette use is unfolding in plain view.”
In addition to the government’s move to ban the import of all non-pharmaceutical vaping products – meaning they can now only be bought with a prescription – all single-use disposable vapes will be made illegal.
The volume and concentration of nicotine in e-cigarettes will also be restricted, and both flavours and packaging must be plain and carrying warning labels.
But these new measures are not actually all that drastic, says public health physician Professor Emily Banks from the Australian National University.
“Australia is not an outlier. It is unique to have a prescription-only model, but other places actually ban them completely, and that includes almost all of Latin America, India, Thailand and Japan.”
‘We have been duped’
Health Minister Mark Butler said the new vaping regulations will close the “biggest loophole in Australian healthcare history”.
“Just like they did with smoking… ‘Big Tobacco’ has taken another addictive product, wrapped it in shiny packaging and added sweet flavours to create a new generation of nicotine addicts.”
“We have been duped”, he said.
Medical experts agree. Prof Banks argues that the promotion of e-cigarettes as a “healthier” alternative was a classic “sleight-of-hand” from the tobacco industry.
As such vaping has become “normalised” in Australia, and in the UK too.
“There’s over 17,000 flavours, and the majority of use is not for smoking cessation”, she tells the BBC.
“They’re being heavily marketed towards children and adolescents. People who are smoking and using e-cigarettes – that’s the most common pattern of use, dual use.”
Professor Banks says authorities need to “de-normalise” vaping among teenagers and make vapes much harder to get hold of.
“Kids are interpreting the fact that they can very easily get hold of [vapes] as evidence [they’re safe], and they’re actually saying, ‘well, if they were that unsafe, I wouldn’t be able to buy one at the coffee shop’.
But could stricter controls make it harder for people who do turn to vapes hoping to quit or cut down on tobacco?
“It is important to bear in mind that for some people, e-cigarettes have really helped. But we shouldn’t say ‘this is great for smokers to quit’, says Prof Banks.
“We know from
Australia, from the US, from Europe, that two-thirds to three-quarters of people who quit smoking successfully, do so unaided.”
“You’re trying to bring these [vapes] in saying they’re a great way to quit smoking, but actually we’ve got bubble gum flavoured vapes being used by 13-year-olds in the school toilets. That is not what the community signed up for.”
Read from: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-65522841
Australia: Scott Morrison saga casts scrutiny on Queen’s representative
In the past fortnight, Australia has been gripped by revelations that former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison secretly appointed himself to several additional ministries.
The move has been labelled a “power grab” by his successor as prime minister, and Mr Morrison has been scolded by many – even his own colleagues.
But the scandal has also dragged Australia’s governor-general into the fray – sparking one of the biggest controversies involving the Queen’s representative in Australia in 50 years.
So does Governor-General David Hurley have questions to answer, or is he just collateral damage?
Governors-general have fulfilled the practical duties as Australia’s head of state since the country’s 1901 federation.
Candidates for the role were initially chosen by the monarch but are now recommended by the Australian government.
The job is largely ceremonial – a governor-general in almost every circumstance must act on the advice of the government of the day. But conventions allow them the right to “encourage” and “warn” politicians.
Key duties include signing bills into law, issuing writs for elections, and swearing in ministers.
Mr Hurley has run into trouble on the latter. At Mr Morrison’s request, he swore the prime minister in as joint minister for health in March 2020, in case the existing minister became incapacitated by Covid.
Over the next 14 months, he also signed off Mr Morrison as an additional minister in the finance, treasury, home affairs and resources portfolios.
Mr Morrison already had ministerial powers, so Mr Hurley was basically just giving him authority over extra departments.
It’s a request the governor-general “would not have any kind of power to override or reject”, constitutional law professor Anne Twomey tells the BBC.
“This wasn’t even a meeting between the prime minister and the governor-general, it was just paperwork.”
But Mr Morrison’s appointments were not publicly announced, disclosed to the parliament, or even communicated to most of the ministers he was job-sharing with.
Australia’s solicitor-general found Mr Morrison’s actions were not illegal but had “fundamentally undermined” responsible government.
But the governor-general had done the right thing, the solicitor-general said in his advice this week.
It would have been “a clear breach” for him to refuse the prime minister, regardless of whether he knew the appointments would be kept secret, Stephen Donaghue said.
Critics push for investigation
Ultimately, Mr Hurley had to sign off on Mr Morrison’s requests, but critics say he could have counselled him against it and he could have publicised it himself.
But representatives for the governor-general say these types of appointments – giving ministers the right to administer other departments – are not unusual.
And it falls to the government of the day to decide if they should be announced to the public. They often opt not to.
Mr Hurley himself announcing the appointments would be unprecedented. He had “no reason to believe that appointments would not be communicated”, his spokesperson said.
Emeritus professor Jenny Hocking finds the suggestion Mr Hurley didn’t know the ministries had been kept secret “ridiculous”.
“The last of these bizarre, duplicated ministry appointments… were made more than a year after the first, so clearly by then the governor-general did know that they weren’t being made public,” she says.
“I don’t agree for a moment that the governor-general has a lot of things on his plate and might not have noticed.”
The historian says it’s one of the biggest controversies surrounding a governor-general since John Kerr caused a constitutional crisis by sacking Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in 1975.
Prof Hocking famously fought for transparency around that matter – waging a lengthy and costly legal battle that culminated in the release of Mr Kerr’s correspondence with the Queen.
And she says the same transparency is needed here.
The Australian public need to know whether Mr Hurley counselled the prime minister against the moves, and why he didn’t disclose them
The government has already announced an inquiry into Mr Morrison’s actions, but she wants it to look at the governor-general and his office too.
“If the inquiry is to find out what happened in order to fix what happened, it would be extremely problematic to leave out a key part of that equation.”
Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull – Mr Morrison’s predecessor – has also voiced support for an inquiry.
“Something has gone seriously wrong at Government House,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
“It is the passive compliance along the chain… that did undermine our constitution and our democracy… that troubles me the most. This is how tyranny gets under way.”
PM defends governor-general
Prof Twomey says the criticism of Mr Hurley is unfair – there’s was no “conspiracy” on his part to keep things secret.
“I don’t think it’s reasonable for anyone to expect that he could have guessed that the prime minister was keeping things secret from his own ministers, for example.
“Nobody really thought that was a possibility until about two weeks ago.”
Even if he had taken the unprecedented step to publicise the appointments or to reject Mr Morrison’s request, he’d have been criticised, she says.
“There’d be even more people saying ‘how outrageous!'” she says. “The role of governor-general is awkward because people are going to attack you either way.”
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has also defended Mr Hurley, saying he was just doing his job.
“I have no intention of undertaking any criticism of [him].”
A role fit for purpose?
Prof Hocking says it’s a timely moment to look at the role of the governor-general more broadly.
She points out it’s possible the Queen may have been informed about Mr Morrison’s extra ministries when Australia’s parliament and people were not.
“It does raise questions about whether this is fit for purpose, as we have for decades been a fully independent nation, but we still have… ‘the relics of colonialism’ alive and well.”
Momentum for a fresh referendum on an Australian republic has been growing and advocates have seized on the controversy.
“The idea that the Queen and her representative can be relied upon to uphold our system of government has been debunked once and for all,” the Australian Republic Movement’s Sandy Biar says.
“It’s time we had an Australian head of state, chosen by Australians and accountable to them to safeguard and uphold Australia’s constitution.”
But Prof Twomey says republicans are “clutching at straws” – under their proposals, the head of state would also have been bound to follow the prime minister’s advice.
“It wouldn’t result in any changes that would have made one iota of difference.”
Read from: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-62683210
Australia election: PM Morrison’s security team in car crash in Tasmania
A car carrying the Australian prime minister’s security team has crashed in Tasmania during an election campaign visit.
Four police officers were taken to hospital with “non-life threatening injuries” after the car and another vehicle collided, authorities said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison was not in the car, but the accident prompted him to cancel the rest of his campaign events on Thursday.
The other driver involved was not hurt.
Tasmania Police said initial investigations suggested the second car had “collided with the rear of the police vehicle, while attempting to merge”. It caused the unmarked security vehicle to roll off the road.
The two Tasmania Police officers and two Australian Federal Police officers were conscious when taken to hospital for medical assessment, the prime minister’s office said.
“Family members of the officers have been contacted and are being kept informed of their condition,” a statement said.
“The PM is always extremely grateful for the protection provided by his security team and extends his best wishes for their recovery and to their families.”
Australians go to the polls on 21 May. Mr Morrison – prime minister since 2018 – is hoping to win his conservative coalition’s fourth term in office.
Polls suggest the opposition Labor Party, led by Anthony Albanese, is favoured to win. However, Mr Morrison defied similar polling to claim victory at the last election in 2019.
Mr Morrison’s Liberal-National coalition holds 76 seats in the House of Representatives – the minimum needed to retain power.
Political observers say the cost of living, climate change, trust in political leaders, and national security will be among key issues in the campaign.
In recent weeks, the prime minister has faced accusations of being a bully and once sabotaging a rival’s career by suggesting the man’s Lebanese heritage made him less electable. Mr Morrison has denied the allegations.
Mr Albanese stumbled into his own controversy this week when he failed to recall the nation’s unemployment or interest rates.
Read from: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-61103987
Australia4 years ago
Button and Diane Powellpark the school bus after three decades
Australia4 years ago
Button and Diane Powellpark the school bus after three decades
Europe2 years ago
Covid: Flights shut down as EU discusses UK virus threat
Europe2 years ago
Post-Brexit trade: Is red tape chaos just ‘teething trouble’ as the UK government argues?
Tech3 years ago
Search engine startup asks users to be the customer, not the product
Tech1 year ago
Sign up to The Independent’s free cryptocurrency expert panel event
Health2 years ago
Spain ‘to register’ those who refuse to have Covid-19 vaccine
Arts5 years ago
How a chain-link mosque at the Vancouver Biennale became a community hub