A Labour MP has been ordered to apologise after threatening to smash a journalist’s face with a “f****** bat” and using Commons paper for a character reference in her son’s drug case.
Kate Osamor resigned from the front bench after the tirade aimed at the reporter asking about her involvement in her councillor son’s sentencing.
The Commons Committee on Standards on Thursday found she had made numerous breaches of the MPs’ code of conduct and ordered her to apologise to the House in a letter.
My statement on today’s report from Parliament’s Standards Committee: pic.twitter.com/Jb7kM2HBmN
— Kate Osamor MP (@KateOsamor) March 19, 2020
She avoided harsher punishment for reasons including the committee finding the “extreme” language she hurled at the reporter in front of police officers had caused him to show no “fear or distress”.
“Ms Osamor’s actions in writing to the court using House-provided stationery, in speaking as she did to the journalist, and in omitting to reply to correspondence, separately and together, give fuel to the belief that members are able and willing to use the privileges of office to benefit their own personal interests, and to attempt to set themselves above the rules that apply to others,” the commissioner concluded.
In October 2018 her son, Ishmael Osamor, was sentenced to a community order after admitting four counts of possession with intent to supply cocaine, MDMA, ketamine and cannabis.
Ms Osamor provided a letter to the court written on stationery bearing the “crowned portcullis” Commons emblem that described him as “a good person that came from a good home”.
And she referred to him being a “vital pillar” in the community, an “integral part” of her team and a councillor in the London Borough of Haringey, a role he resigned from.
There was nothing wrong with her writing a character reference, the commissioner said, but the use of Commons paper “wrongly suggested that her plea carried the authority of the House”.
The following month the then shadow international development secretary called the Metropolitan Police, telling officers a journalist was banging on her door and intimidating her and her family.
Police told her they were wearing a body-worn video camera which caught the following exchange.
“Don’t knock my f****** door. I should have come down here with a f****** bat and smashed your face open,” she told the journalist.
A short while later she said she did not in fact have a bat and that she was not advocating violence, according to the report.
“The police officer’s written notes recorded that the journalist showed no signs of alarm, fear or distress,” it added.
The commissioner also noted police records from another night saying she admitted throwing a cup of water at someone when losing her cool in December 2018.
She accepted her behaviour had fallen foul of accepted standards, but explained she had “finally snapped” after a month of what she “felt to be media harassment”.
“I felt that I was the target of a witch-hunt, and that race and class were factors. Most of all, I was deeply upset and angry about the targeting of my son,” she added in written evidence.
The committee found her language to the reporter was “extreme and highly regrettable” but found the “strain and pressure” she was under from the scrutiny was a mitigating factor.
Ms Osamor tweeted a statement saying she was “delighted to draw a line under this matter” with the committee accepting her apology.
She said a “media campaign” had taken a “big toll” on her family and mental health and said she was “humbled” to have been re-elected by her constituents in Edmonton.