MP quits Corbyn team in row over son’s drugs case
Kate Osamor ‘threatened to attack journalist with bat’ after questions about arrest
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.