Seema Malhotra resigned as Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury on June 26 this year. The post carried with it the use of an office on the Leader of the Opposition’s floor in Parliament.
She has since failed to vacate that office, despite no longer being entitled to it.
To interfere with the workings of the Labour Party? That should be cause for disciplinary procedures.
It seems possible she was hoping that somebody would enter the office while she was still in possession, precisely so she could make the complaint.
But the fact is, she was occupying a space that she did not own, rent, or otherwise have lawful permission to use. That’s the legal definition of squatting, and squatting has been illegal in England since September 2012.
The office was entered by Mr Corbyn’s staff members on July 13 and 15 – more than two weeks after Ms Malhotra resigned. That means she had plenty of time to move out and the only possible reason for her failure to do so is that she has been trying to obstruct party business.
Jeremy Corbyn has done his level best to accommodate the tantrums of Labour MPs who have been attacking him since he became Labour leader.
But enough is enough. It’s time to draw a line in the sand.
He should suspend Ms Malhotra from the party for trying to interfere with Labour Party business – and he should take her to court for squatting in one of his offices.*
Seema Malhotra, who was until recently shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, said a campaign of intimidation and harassment against her staff had culminated in the “illegal” and “unauthorised entry” to her office in Westminster.
Since the police search of the new work and pensions minister Damian Green’s office when he was an opposition MP in 2008, it has been accepted that only a search warrant can justify an entry of a parliamentary office without the wishes of an MP.
Spokesmen for Corbyn and McDonnell claimed that the row was a “small matter” stemming from a miscommunication, and that access had been sought on the assumption that Malhotra had vacated the office on resigning her post.
Malhotra writes: “Suspicion was aroused when [John McDonnell’s aide] accessed my office with her key on 13 July at 18.42 and was surprised to find my member of staff still in the office.
“[McDonnell’s aide] had no reason to be showing anyone around my office – this should not be accessible to anyone without my permission and I was not aware that [the aide] had access to my office.”
Malhotra said she had then ordered an audit of those who had used digital keys to “illegally access an office”, and that two further attempts had been made on 15 July, one of which had been successful.
*Yes, one of his offices. It’s the Leader of the Opposition’s floor – not the ex-Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury’s.
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