Did nobody tell Seema Malhotra that squatting has been illegal since 2012?

Seema Malhotra MP reckons there have been security breaches at her Westminster office. But it isn't her office any more. Why has she not vacated it? [Image: Martin Godwin for the Guardian]

Seema Malhotra MP reckons there have been security breaches at her Westminster office. But it isn’t her office any more. Why has she not vacated it? [Image: Martin Godwin for the Guardian]

Right, let’s get this straight.

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.

Source: Corbyn aide accused of ‘illegal entry’ to MP’s Westminster office | Politics | The Guardian

*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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35 thoughts on “Did nobody tell Seema Malhotra that squatting has been illegal since 2012?

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Perhaps it’ll make an interesting test case. Do you really think they are commercial premises?

  1. Neilth

    In the name of all gods this is getting ridiculous. Accusations and counter accusations with next to no substance. It’s driving me to distraction. It isn’t her office it was the office she was entitled to use by virtue of her shadow cabinet post which she gave up as part of a deliberate campaign to remove the elected leader.
    Claims of bullying from both sides. Certainly unpleasant, foul, threatening emails etc received on both sides some of which I have seen copies of. The are not legitimate debate and are certainly unpleasant if not illegal and they have been condemned unequivocally by both sides from day one.
    All this is causing damage to the electoral chances of all candidates next May in the local elections and we are going to lose a shed load of good Councillors.
    As I keep saying I didn’t vote Corbyn last time because I didn’t believe he was a leader. So the PLP prove themselves to be unleadable as well.
    We now have a choice between Corbyn and Someone else who has all the leadership qualities of a coal truck.
    He is a pawn of the engineers of the attempted coup.
    The party needs a leader with passion, charisma and commitment.

    1. jeffrey davies

      but we have one in corbyn the roofs falling in while around hes backstabbed by his indians yet does he buckle under the bullying nay then neither can we say hes not right hes shown that hes fine under fire

      1. Monica Volland

        Yes you are so right,Jeremy Corbyn has not faltered,people do not need the newspapers to tell their lies when we can go on social media and read the truth,when is it going to beseen as bullying,we should stop buying the newspapers that are trying to bribe us into their way of thinking,let’s have a day of not buying these trouble making papers and maybe loss of revenue will stop these lies.

    2. rotzeichen

      It is clear to me that the right wing of the party are deliberately doing as much damage to the Labour Party as they can, so that when they form their new so called centre party with some Tories they can claim to be leaving extremists as was the case when the same sort of people set up the SDP. Angela Eagle recently made a claim that she was acting on advice from the police relating to some issue surrounding her office, but then the police contradicted her side of the story. In my view Owen Smith is not standing to challenge for the leadership of the party, but to do as much political damage to the Labour Party as they can, before jumping into their new party where rich backers are waiting in the wings to fund. We have seen all of this before with the SDP. Just look at where Shirley Williams ended up, supporting the Tories’ NHS privatising Bill.

  2. Peter Berry

    If you had been in the audience at Salford on Saturday I don’t think there would have been any doubt as to wether
    Jeremy Corbyn had passion ,charisma and commitment

    1. Stephen Millman

      I don’t doubt that he has passion and commitment but charisma? I don’t think so.

    2. Ted Bains

      The same can be said about the Durham Miners Big Meet a few weeks ago. Tens of thousands stood in a field as the rain poured down, to hear him and cheer him on each topic he commented on. Nothing about it on national news programmes, 10. seconds on local TV taken out of context.

  3. Val bethell

    This is unbelievable. The aides entered the office to check it was empty for further use. Part of the job – end of story. Noe they are being hounded and their reputations (and future employment) compromised by nonsensical allegations, conveniently publicised by our friends on the Guardian. I hesitate to speculate on Malhotra’s motives for this but it certainly shows how far those opposed to Corbyn will go in their attempts to discredit him. If this isn’t a case of reckless and shameful bullying I’m not dre what I’d.

  4. Val bethell

    Correction! Last sentence shd read ‘not sure what I’d call it’. I’m so outraged I can scarcely type!

  5. David Woods

    So just ‘how’ has she been using this time she’s had illegally occupying an office she has no right to be in?
    What has she been doing?
    Why has no one gone in and cleared the desks and entry code?

  6. Tim

    Are the MPs with two or more Shadow Cabinet posts entitled to two offices, Mike? And what happens if the Labour party splits and the majority of Labour MPs set themselves up as a separate political party big enough to replace Labour under Corbyn as the official opposition to the government? Who will be kicked out of what offices then and who will get them?

      1. Tim

        Well, yes. But the bit about rebel Labour MPs collectively displacing Corbyn and those who remain loyal to him in the parliamentary party as Her Majesty’s opposition is a very real possibility. Wouldn’t that be weird? Constitutionally such a future could await us.

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        No, it isn’t a real possibility. They cannot take the Labour name; they cannot take Labour’s financial assets; they would flounder around with no money and no support.

  7. dogpower

    The world evolves for her as with any job when you leave the post you leave every think you only take your personal belonging and then say good by so what makes her think she is different

  8. NMac

    The pettiness of these people knows no bounds. Someone remind them that they are adults and not children.

  9. Patrick Kavanagh

    John McDonald has just set the record straight on the Andrew Marr show this morning and after listening to his explanation of what took place at this office, it’s clear to see that this woman is part of a “smear campaign” against Jeremy Corbyn or anyone associated with him. She’s an utter disgrace and, in an honest world, would be exposed for the mischief maker she is, had we only an unbiased and honest media to do so. She and all the other’s, who a part of the same cabal working to their hidden undemocratic agenda, should be honest and show themselves for the “Black Shirt’s Movement” that they are

  10. David Goldthorp

    It makes you wonder what planet these MPs are on, to resign from a job and think they could still use the post’s office. Any job I ever resigned from, it’s been a case of: Hand the keys in, walk away and leave em to it. Not just carry on as if you hadn’t done anything.

  11. Antjony chiverton

    Why have you not left, Seema Malhotra? You’re no longer in the shadow cabinet.
    Get out and let the real MPs working for us the working class.
    Mmm that’s someone who wants to be a real MP if you have forgotten why you were elected.

  12. Zippi

    This is beyond ridiculous, now and it needs to stop. The behaviour of certain members of the Parliamentary £abour Party is beyond shameless. It is neither subtle, nor discreet. This is like something out of a farce. How is it even allowed to continue? It is so obvious as to be painful yet, at the same time, almost impossible to ignore. If you don’t want to do your job and support your leader, as you were elected to do, leave. Nobody is forcing you to be an M.P. You stood, you were elected and now you are treating those who elected you with contempt. Think on’t.

  13. Dez

    Not sure if shadow cabinet members get higher remuneration from rank ‘n file MP’s
    but as soon as she resigned she was gone as far as enhanced salary, benefits and expenses were concerned along with appropriate office accommodation. In the real commercial world out is out and gone. Maybe she had been promised continuity by the wanabee Conservatives MPs if she joined them unfortunately they do not run the party despite their revolution tactics.

  14. hayfords

    She hadn’t moved yet because she was waiting to hear from the whips about a new office. Surely the people who entered her office could have asked the whips whether the office available yet.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      What she says may diverge from the facts, you know.
      She was supposed to be swapping with the new Shadow Chief Secretary but – for some reason – had been delaying.

  15. Tony Turtle

    OK, so if this is going to set a precedent, will this mean that Theresa May stays in No. 10 when Jeremy wins the General Election that Ms. May was insisting on when Tony Blair stepped down?

  16. Ben Waters

    “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.”
    Not the only possible reason…..Perhaps she had been assured by the coup leaders that JC would be forced to resign under the pressure from PLP, and that once he had, her office and job would be hers again, so she didn’t bother moving out.

  17. Lil

    Is it true that Ms Malhotra’s staff includes the wife of one Conor McGinn? Might that have some bearing on her reluctance to have people entering the office that she should have moved out of after her resignation?

  18. Linda Ellis

    If you worked anywhere else and told your boss to shove his Job you couldn’t expect to turn up every day for a month walk into the office and sit at your desk without your boss wanting to know what the hell you were playing at , you really couldn’t make this rubbish up .

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