South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck is facing calls to resign after her husband and parliamentary assistant was branded a “perpetrator of elder abuse” following a string of allegations from his time as a care worker.
As revealed by the Gazette on Friday, Simon Buck has been awarded £400 in compensation by the Local Government Ombudsman after South Tyneside Council was found to have made procedural errors – despite an inquiry ruling he had abused a vulnerable elderly man.
Mr Buck now works for his wife – a former social worker who was Shadow Children’s Minister – and she is under pressure to justify her role.
* Why did she make her husband her parliamentary assistant while he was involved in a serious investigation of alleged abuse?
* Why did she call the chief executive of South Tyneside Council to ask why the investigation into these allegations was taking so long?
* What background checks were made to determine his suitability to be her parliamentary assistant, a position which brings him into contact with the public?
Mr Buck denies the allegations and has said he is delighted with the ombudsman’s decision over the way his case was handled by the local authority.
Councillors in South Tyneside will hold an extraordinary general meeting on Monday to consider the local authority’s response to the report.
They have the option of refusing to pay the compensation.
One senior Labour party source said: “This latest incident involving the town’s MP has got to be the final nail in her political career.
“Enough is enough and I think now her position has become so untenable there is no option left to her but to either resign or be sacked.
“This is an MP who sits on the front bench and has the responsibility of safeguarding, yet here she is employing someone who has been investigated and been found to have carried out abusive behaviour towards an elderly and vulnerable person in his care.
“What checks, if any, did she carry out before she employed her husband in a role which will have him come into contact with vulnerable and elderly residents on a regular basis?”
Former Conservative councillor Jeff Milburn, who was the first to raise questions after Mr Buck was employed by his wife, said: “It’s outrageous what has transpired and the Labour Party need to take action.
“This man was deemed not fit to work in an hospital, not fit for the university, but the MP saw him fit to be a key person within her office.
“He is not suitable for the role he was given and she is not fit for public service as an MP.
“He needs to be sacked from her office and the Labour Party really need to question her future representing them as a MP. “
A spokesman for South Shields Constituency Labour Party said: “Senior officers of the South Shields Party will be seeking a meeting with the council leadership and the council’s monitoring officer to review the full contents of the Local Government Ombudsman’s report.
“Following this meeting, we will be in a position to consider a more detailed response, until then, Labour North will be handling all further media enquiries.”
A spokesman for Labour North said it was unable to provide a statement at the moment but confirmed the issue was being looked into by officials and being taken “very seriously.”