Veteran MP Stephen Hepburn banned from defending his Jarrow seat for Labour at General Election

Veteran MP Stephen Hepburn has been barred by Labour from defending his South Tyneside seat for the party at next month’s General Election.

Wednesday, 6th November 2019, 4:57 pm

Mr Hepburn, 59, who was first elected to serve Jarrow in 1997, had the party whip withdrawn from him last month following a complaint of sexual harassment and stood as an independent MP until Parliament was dissolved.

Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) has now ruled that he cannot stand as its official candidate at December 12’s poll.

A decision on who will replace him as the party’s representative has still to be announced.

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Veteran MP Stephen Hepburn has been barred by Labour from defending his Jarrow seat for the party at December's General Election.
Veteran MP Stephen Hepburn has been barred by Labour from defending his Jarrow seat for the party at December's General Election.

Mr Hepburn, who has been approached for comment by the Gazette, is one of three former Labour MPs to suffer a similar fate.

Under party rules, individuals suspended from the party are not eligible to be Labour candidates.

The complaint had previously gone through party processes and was reportedly reopened in the light of additional witness testimony.

A Labour Party spokesperson said at the time: “The Labour Party takes all complaints of sexual harassment extremely seriously, which are fully investigated and any appropriate disciplinary action taken in line with party rules and procedures.”

The two other former Labour MPs barred by the NEC are Chris Williamson and Roger Godsiff.

Mr Williamson, who represents Derby North, was suspended from the party in February after he claimed that Labour had been "too apologetic" in response to criticism of its handling of anti-Semitism allegations.

He was readmitted to the party and issued with a formal warning following a hearing of an NEC anti-Semitism panel in June - prompting an outcry from MPs, peers and Jewish groups.

But he was suspended again in July after a second panel reviewed the decision to reinstate him and found it "cannot safely stand".

Mr Godsiff, who was reprimanded by Labour's chief whip Nick Brown in the summer for his stance on LGBT+ rights, was undergoing a re-selection process by his local party when the election was called.

It is understood the chief whip recommended that Mr Godsiff, who represents Birmingham, Hall Green, should not be endorsed by the NEC to stand in the election.

Mr Hepburn was returned as MP at the 2017 General Election with a majority of more than 17,000.