Labour MP who made offensive online comments has changed his views, says Rayner

Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner has defended a Labour MP who quit a Commons committee after offensive online comments he posted before being elected came to light.

Ms Rayner said she was "happy to sit beside" Jared O'Mara because he had changed since making the remarks 15 years ago.

Sheffield Hallam MP Mr O'Mara resigned from his position on the Commons Women and Equalities Committee after the social media comments emerged.

In online posts, Mr O'Mara joked about having an orgy with members of Girls Aloud, claimed Michelle McManus only won Pop Idol "because she was fat" and suggested it would be funny if jazz star Jamie Cullum was "sodomised with his own piano".

Ms Rayner told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Jared has said he held those views 15 years ago, but he changed his views, that's the important thing.

"He recognised those views were absolutely abhorrent and wrong and he changed those views. And 15 years on he is not the Jared that made those comments some years ago."

After the posts emerged, Mr O'Mara said: "I was wrong to make them, I understand why they are offensive and sincerely apologise for my use of such unacceptable language.

"Misogyny is a deep problem in our society."

In a comment posted on the Drowned in Sound music website in 2004, Mr O'Mara said: "Girls Aloud - I advise you to sack Sarah and the remaining four members (Nicola, Cheryl, Nadine and Kimberley) come have an orgy with me."

In March 2004 on the same forum, he suggested Pop Idol's 2003 victor McManus "only won because she was fat".

Mr O'Mara, who has cerebral palsy, added: "Being a disabled person, I would hate to win something because people thought I was 'brave' or felt sorry for me, rather than for my superior ability/talent."

In the same post, he said of Cullum: "It would be no great loss to the music world if he was sodomised with his own piano and subsequently died of a sore arse.

"In fact, it would be quite funny."

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