MP told to apologise after breaching conduct code in relation to son’s drug conviction
Kate Osamor damaged reputation of Commons in abusive language to journalist, report finds
The Edmonton MP, who quit Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet in 2018 as a result of events surrounding her son Ishmael’s conviction, was found to have broken the rules by using parliamentary headed notepaper to supply a character reference to the court on the day of his sentencing.
And she damaged the reputation of the Commons by using abusive language to a journalist enquiring about the case, found standards commissioner Kathryn Stone.
The Commons Committee on Standards accepted Ms Stone’s finding that the former shadow international development secretary had breached the code, but said that there were a number of “mitigating factors” in her case, stating that her “extreme and highly regrettable" behaviour towards the journalist was “a hot-blooded reaction to a difficult personal situation” and should be judged less harshly because of the "strain and pressure" she was experiencing at the time.
The committee noted that Ms Osamor had already apologised for her conduct, and recommended that she should formally apologise to the House of Commons in writing - effectively a mild slap on the wrist which is now expected to be confirmed by the Commons.
Ms Osamor continued to employ her son in her parliamentary office following his 2018 conviction for possession with intent to supply of drugs with a value of £2,500 at a music festival.
Ms Stone found that her use of stationery bearing the royal portcullis logo was "highly inappropriate" as it wrongly gave the impression that her character reference carried the authority of the House of Commons.
And her report recorded that the MP swore at a journalist and told him she “should have come down here with a f***ing bat and smashed your face open” after he asked questions about her son’s case. The incident in November 2018 was recorded on body-worn video camera by police who she had called to her home. She also admitted that she had thrown a cup of water at someone asking questions on another occasion.
Ms Osamor told the commissioner that her "emotional outburst" was a result of "frayed tempers... after a month of what I felt to be media harassment of myself and my family and neighbours". She added: "As a public figure, I know that was not acceptable. Again, I got it wrong. I made a mistake.”
The committee said that, although it was clear that Ms Osamor was not seeking to interfere in an improper way in her son's sentencing, it was "unwise" for her to use official parliamentary notepaper.
"Ms Osamor resigned from the opposition front bench as a result of these events, so she has paid a price for her behaviour in terms of her career," said the committee in its report on the case.
"We recommend that Ms Osamor should apologise to the House for her breaches of the code of conduct, by means of a letter to the committee which we will publish on our website. We add that if Ms Osamor were to commit any further similar breaches of the code, we would take a very serious view of the matter."