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1 December 2018

Labour MP Kate Osamor resigns as shadow international development secretary

The Corbyn ally was accused of threatening a journalist and misleading the public over her knowledge of her son’s drugs conviction.

By New Statesman

Labour MP Kate Osamor has resigned as shadow international development secretary after being accused of misleading the public over her knowledge of her son’s conviction for drugs offences.

Osamor, an ally of Jeremy Corbyn, was last night reported by the Times to have written to the trial judge asking for leniency for Ishmael Osamor, 29, despite previous claims that she was unaware of the case until after he was given a community sentence on 19 October. The MP for Edmonton was also said to have told one of the paper’s journalists to “fuck off”, declaring that she “should have come down here with a bat and smashed your face in”, and to have thrown a bucket of water at him. Osamor’s son, a senior communications officer in his mother’s parliamentary office, was last year arrested for possession of drugs worth £2,500 at the Bestival music festival in Dorset.

Elected to parliament in 2015, Osamor was one of Corbyn’s original supporters in that year’s Labour leadership contest. She first joined the frontbench as shadow minister for women and equalities in January 2016 and was appointed shadow international development secretary in June 2016 following the mass resignation of anti-Corbyn MPs. 

In a statement published on Twitter, Osamor said: “I am resigning my position as shadow international development secretary to concentrate on supporting my family through the difficult time we have been experiencing.

  “I remain fully committed to our programme for creating a society that works for the many, not the privileged few, and will continue to campaign for this from the backbenches.”

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Corbyn said in response: “I have accepted Kate Osamor’s resignation and would like to thank her for her work as our shadow secretary of state for international development. She brought a new dimension to the role by committing Labour to tackling global inequality as well as poverty as part of building a world for the many not the few.

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“I know Kate will take this time to support her family, work for her constituents and support our party’s efforts to rebuild Britain from the backbenches.”

Michelle Stanistreet, the general secretary of the National Union of Journalists, said of the allegations against Osamor: “Journalists, like any other workers, 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, particularly when they emanate from public figures in positions of authority, have to be challenged at every turn.”

Dan Carden, the Labour MP for Liverpool Walton and another Corbyn ally, has been named acting shadow international development secretary having previously held the junior brief.

Osamors mother, Martha, a co-founder of the United Black Women’s Action Group, is due to take her seat in the House of Lords on Tuesday 4 December having been nominated for a life peerage by Corbyn earlier this year.