Labour veteran ‘sent unwanted love notes to MP for over 20 years’
Kerry Mccarthy speaks out to support a young party activist who also reported ‘inappropriate behaviour’
KELVIN HOPKINS, the Labour MP suspended following allegations of sexual harassment, sent a younger female colleague unsolicited love letters, according to new claims.
The 76-year-old, a former shadow minister, sent Labour’s Kerry Mccarthy letters and cards commenting on her “very pretty” and “attractive” appearance in a campaign of unwanted attention spanning 20 years.
Ms Mccarthy, who is 24-years his junior, said she felt compelled to speak out following a Daily Telegraph investigation which unearthed allegations that he had sent “inappropriate” text messages and rubbed himself against Ava Etemadzadeh, a young party activist, after a political event.
She told The Telegraph: “I couldn’t leave Ava to fight this alone when elements of my story are so similar.” Mr Hopkins, who is married, released a statement addressing the new accusations before they went public.
The Luton North MP claimed they had caused “immense personal hurt and utter dismay” and placed “unbearable stress” on him and his family.
Ms Mccarthy, 52, a former shadow environment secretary, is the first MP to make specific claims of inappropriate behaviour since the Westminster scandal erupted.
She said she began receiving unsolicited attention from Mr Hopkins in the mid-1990s, when the pair were chairs of neighbouring constituency parties in Luton, but the most recent incident was less than two years ago.
She found his behaviour “upsetting” but did not report it because she did not feel she had anywhere to turn.
However, she spoke out to support Ms Etemadzadeh, whose complaints to Nick Brown, the Chief Whip, with fresh details following an initial complaint over dealings with the MP in 2014 and 2015 led to his suspension last week.
“I don’t believe that I am the only one,” she added.
The Bristol East MP said that in 1994, when she was chairman of Luton North constituency Labour Party (CLP) and he chaired Luton South CLP, he invited her out for lunch, ostensibly to discuss political issues.
Shortly afterwards, he sent her a card saying: “My only reason for asking you out to lunch is because you are attractive, intelligent and charming.”
He added “PS: best to dispose of this once read!”
Ms Mccarthy said: “That to me felt really intrusive.”
In a second note, Mr Hopkins enclosed a photograph of Ms Mccarthy and described her as “pretty” before again asking her to dispose of it.
He also sent a postcard in an envelope, asking whether her employer specialised in “pretty, petite brunettes”.
Ms Mccarthy said she went to another lunch with Mr Hopkins because she found it awkward to say no. He sent a card afterwards suggesting it “would be nice to meet again”.
A note sent before the 1997 general election said: “You know I think you are lovely ... but I never see enough of you ... after May 1st perhaps ... K x”
The letters then stopped until her 50th birthday, by which time Ms Mccarthy was an MP.
He sent two letters more recently on parliamentary notepaper, one of which said: “I dreamt about you last night. A nice dream.” It went on: “Much time has passed but I do remember earlier times … and you remain a very attractive woman.” Ms Mccarthy said she believed Mr Hopkins knew his actions were wrong.
Mr Hopkins’s statement said: “I have known Kerry Mccarthy MP personally and professionally since about 1993... She is a person of substantial standing on the national stage and I counted her as a friend. If it is true that my parliamentary colleague and long time friend has made a complaint about me via the press, then I am deeply saddened by this. I cannot understand why a Parliamentarian of such experience and standing, who is also such a long-term friend, would not have told me that she was unhappy with any aspect of our friendship rather than going straight to the national press.”
Kerry Mccarthy, Labour MP for Bristol East, claims that the former shadow minister, left, with Pat, his wife of 42 years, began paying her unsolicited attention in the 1990s, which continued over 20 years and included sending her cards and ‘intrusive’ notes on parliamentary paper. Kelvin Hopkins is currently suspended following previous allegations of sexual harassment