Taxpayer cash used in MP’s settlement with ex-girlfriend
BIRMINGHAM MP Khalid Mahmood used public money to settle a legal dispute with his Parliamentary assis- tant.
The MP for Perry Barr was taken to court by Elaina Cohen, his former girlfriend, who had accused him of religious discrimination.
But on the day that an employment tribunal was due to hear her complaint, the case was settled.
Ms Cohen signed a non-disclosure agreement as a condition of an out-ofcourt settlement, which prevents her from discussing the case publicly.
Such agreements are common when an employment case is settled out of court.
It has emerged that Mr Mahmood’s costs were covered by insurance which is made available to all MPs and funded by the Parliamentary expenses system – in other words, by taxpayers.
The Birmingham Post reported last year that Mr Mahmood, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Europe, was being taken to court by Ms Cohen.
Ms Cohen was due to set out her grievances against the MP at an employment tribunal hearing, in London.
However, the hearing was cancelled on the morning it was due to take place, when the pair reached an agreement.
Ms Cohen is Mr Mahmood’s former girlfriend. The MP was criticised after it was revealed the pair spent nine nights at The Bentley hotel in Kensington, London, at taxpayers’ expense in 2004.
The bills were approved by the Commons authorities – on the grounds that it would have cost the same whether she was there or not – but Mr Mahmood repaid the £175-a-night cost, saying he understood why some constituents were unhappy.
They are no longer a couple but continue to work together. To colleagues who know them, it is no secret that they have a dysfunctional relationship and frequently argue.
Ms Cohen is said to have accused Mr Mahmood of attempting to freeze her out, and of employing other staff to do her job.
Some newspaper reports have highlighted the fact that Ms Cohen is Jewish, and linked the situation to Labour’s ongoing problems with antisemitism.
Ms Cohen was warning privately that Labour has a problem with anti-Semitism long before recent media coverage highlighted the issue.
Disagreements between her and Mr Mahmood came to a head after Ms Cohen accused Labour MP Naz Shah of being “anti-Zionist”. Ms Shah later admitted she had made antisemitic statements and apologised.
However, neither Ms Cohen nor anyone else has suggested that her difficult relationship with Mr Mahmood has anything to do with antisemitism. Neither Mr Mahmood nor Ms Cohen were available for comment.