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Suspended MP claims timing 'politically charged'

An MP suspended by Labour believes the revelation of a sexual harassment allegation against him at a "politically charged time" has thrown the "integrity" of his case into doubt.
John Woodcock, an arch-critic of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, had the party whip withdrawn on Monday following the publication of accusations against him.
The Sunday Mirror reported he was alleged to have sent inappropriate texts and emails to a former female staff member between 2014 and 2016.The Barrow and Furness MP rejects the sexual harassment complaint and claimed details of an investigation had been leaked.In a statement following his suspension, Mr Woodcock said: "In November last year a complaint was made against me alleging sexual harassment."The following month, after considering initial evidence, I was informed that Labour's harassment panel had referred the complaint to the party's national constitutional committee and I should expect a hearing 'early in the New Year'."I was advised to maintain the confidentiality of the case to ensure the fairness of the process and to reassure other complainants that they could bring forward cases without being exposed to unwelcome publicity."I do not accept the charge being brought against me but have been co-operating fully with the process and remain committed to a thorough and fair investigation of the case."I am therefore very concerned that one of the very few individuals with knowledge of the case chose to place selective details of it in newspapers this weekend."Mr Woodcock claimed Labour's new general secretary Jennie Formby had cited the publicity of his case "as a reason to suspend me from the Labour whip".
He added: "The decision at this politically charged time to place details of my case in the press and then suspend me places a serious question mark over the integrity of the process, which serves neither those making complaints nor those facing allegations."I want this complaint to be judged in a way that is seen to be fair."Mr Woodcock was first elected to Parliament in 2010 and was shadow minister for transport between 2010 and 2013.In recent weeks, he has criticised Mr Corbyn's response to the Salisbury spy poisoning and a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria.Mr Woodcock also questioned Mr Corbyn's decision to attend a meeting with a radical left-wing Jewish group described as being hostile to mainstream Jewish organisations.He has previously stated he could not support Mr Corbyn as prime minister.
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Confirming Mr Woodcock's suspension on Monday, a Labour Party spokesperson said: "John Woodcock has been suspended from the Labour Party pending due process."It would not be appropriate to comment further on an ongoing case."
news.sky.com
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