MP quits Cor­byn team in row over son’s drugs case

Kate Osamor ‘threat­ened to at­tack jour­nal­ist with bat’ after ques­tions about ar­rest

The Observer - - News - Michael Sav­age & Nadeem Bad­shah

Kate Osamor has re­signed from the shadow cabi­net after al­le­ga­tions that she threat­ened a jour­nal­ist and mis­led the pub­lic about the ar­rest of her son. The Ed­mon­ton MP, who was shadow in­ter­na­tional de­vel­op­ment sec­re­tary, said she was stand­ing down to fo­cus on “sup­port­ing my fam­ily” after claims she ver­bally abused a jour­nal­ist who had con­fronted her ask­ing what she knew about her son’s ar­rest.

Osamor told the reporter from the Times that she “should have come down here with a bat and smashed your face in”, ac­cord­ing to the news­pa­per. She also re­port­edly told the jour­nal­ist to “fuck off” and called po­lice after ac­cus­ing him of stalking.

The in­ci­dent fol­lowed claims Osamor mis­led the pub­lic over knowl­edge of her son’s con­vic­tion for drugs pos­ses­sion at a mu­sic fes­ti­val. Osamor said in a state­ment: “I am re­sign­ing as shadow in­ter­na­tional de­vel­op­ment sec­re­tary to con­cen­trate on sup­port­ing my fam­ily through the dif­fi­cult time we have been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing.”

Jeremy Cor­byn ac­cepted her res­ig­na­tion, say­ing: “She brought a new di­men­sion to the role by com­mit­ting Labour to tack­ling global in­equal­ity.”

Dan Car­den, a Labour MP and for­mer aide to the Unite union boss Len McCluskey, will take on the post on a tem­po­rary ba­sis.

Osamor, 50, con­tin­ued to em­ploy her son Ish­mael, 29, in her par­lia­men­tary of­fice as a se­nior com­mu­ni­ca­tions of­fi­cer after his con­vic­tion. She had pre­vi­ously claimed she knew noth­ing about his case un­til after he was handed a com­mu­nity sen­tence on 19 Oc­to­ber. He had been caught with drugs worth £2,500 at Bes­ti­val in Dorset last year.

It has since been dis­closed that she was aware of the case prior to this, and had writ­ten to the trial judge ask­ing for le­niency. Ish­mael Osamor pleaded guilty to charges of pos­ses­sion with in­tent to sup­ply co­caine, ec­stasy, ke­tamine and cannabis on 18 Septem­ber at Bournemouth crown court. His case was ad­journed for pre­sen­tence re­ports. It is ac­cepted by the pros­e­cu­tion that Osamor was look­ing after the drugs for friends

Judge Stephen Climie said he had re­ceived five ref­er­ences in sup­port of Ish­mael Osamor, which played a “sig­nif­i­cant” part in his de­ci­sion to im­pose a com­mu­nity sen­tence of 200 hours’ un­paid work.

The rev­e­la­tion that the MP may have known about the court case before the sen­tenc­ing came from a le­gal ap­pli­ca­tion from news­pa­pers, which re­quested the re­lease of the five let­ters. While the judge de­clined to re­lease the let­ters, he iden­ti­fied three of the au­thors as Ish­mael Osamor him­self, his part­ner and his mother.

Michelle Stanistreet, the gen­eral sec­re­tary of the Na­tional Union of Jour­nal­ists, said: “Jour­nal­ists need to be able to go about their work with­out fear of threats or as­sault. It’s com­pletely un­ac­cept­able to re­spond to le­git­i­mate press queries, how­ever un­wel­come they may be, with phys­i­cal or ver­bal abuse.

“There is a dis­turb­ing and febrile in­ter­na­tional cli­mate at the mo­ment that is fa­cil­i­tat­ing and le­git­imis­ing the no­tion that it is open sea­son on jour­nal­ists – such in­sid­i­ous and dan­ger­ous be­liefs have to be chal­lenged at ev­ery turn.”

The Con­ser­va­tive MP Priti Pa­tel called for the par­lia­men­tary stan­dards com­mis­sioner to con­duct an in­quiry into the case and the con­tin­ued em­ploy­ment of Osamor’s son in par­lia­ment.

Osamor asked for le­niency for her son, but was chal­lenged over de­nials of any prior knowl­edge of the case.

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