Labour failed in its duty of care towards me, says MP Apsana Begum

The member for Poplar and Limehouse in London has been off work since June.

Labour failed in its duty of care towards me, says MP Apsana Begum

A Labour MP has accused the party of failing in its “duty of care in relation to my health and wellbeing”, after being off work since the middle of June.

Apsana Begum, the Labour MP for Poplar and Limehouse, said in June that she would be taking time away from work due to the strain caused by what she called “misogynistic abuse and harassment”.

It comes as she faces a full selection process in her local constituency.

In a statement on Thursday, she said she is beginning a phased return to work but accused her party of failing in its duty of care to her.

“I have faced a relentless and sustained campaign of abuse and harassment, which has even included vexatious litigation seeking to send me to jail,” she said.

Ms Begum, a survivor of domestic abuse, added: “I would like to place on record the stress and harm that this process has caused me and that I believe that the recent trigger process was used to further the domestic abuse and harassment that I have already endured.

“I want to make it very clear: I will not be silenced.

“As the chair of the APPG (All-Party Parliamentary Group) on domestic abuse and violence, I believe that the Labour Party has shown a lack of understanding regarding tackling domestic abuse, including post-separation harassment.

“I feel a duty to all survivors of abuse to challenge what has happened. I have been contacted by women from all over the UK and locally, concerned about the treatment I have received.

“I do not accept the legitimacy of a trigger ballot, mired by rule-breaking, intimidation and harassment.”

In 2021, the Labour MP was cleared of charges of housing fraud that she claimed were “driven by malicious intent” and she described in court her former partner as “controlling and coercive”.

Ms Begum said she has written to Labour’s general secretary David Evans, adding that she is “seeking advice and considering taking legal action”.

She added: “I am very conscious that the undemocratic trauma that has been inflicted in recent months is very damaging to the party and local people.

“It has always been clear to me that my ordeal was also due to my being elected on a socialist, anti-austerity and anti-imperialist green platform – and that I have stood firmly by these principles and local people regardless of the consequences.

“Labour Party members deserve genuine democratic accountability and empowerment. I have been made aware that there are approximately 50 complaints submitted to the party regarding the trigger ballot.

“Until the party addresses the issues at hand, particularly the treatment of local women, a fair, just, safe, or democratic process cannot take place.”

Some fellow Labour MPs paid tribute to Ms Begum as they welcomed her back, including former shadow chancellor John McDonnell.

He tweeted: “It’s really good to have you back in action in Parliament where you belong. I repeat my call to the Labour leadership that these allegations warrant a serious, independent investigation, drawing upon the specialist expertise required in cases like this.

East Leeds Labour MP Richard Burgon offered Ms Begum his support on Thursday, tweeting: “Apsana is a brave and principled inspiration.

Sam Tarry, who was recently sacked from Sir Keir Starmer’s top team, called Ms Begum a “trailblazer and brilliant colleague”.

“Apsana is a survivor of domestic abuse, who has faced a relentless campaign of harassment,” Coventry South MP Zarah Sultana said on Twitter, adding that Labour’s processes are “being used against her”.

This “abuse extends to Labour’s processes being used against her”, according to an independent domestic violence advocate.

Labour has been contacted for comment.

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