Former Labour deputy Prime Minister John Prescott’s son escaped suspension from the party over allegations of “unwanted sexual advances” after Jeremy Corbyn’s chief of staff intervened to block it, leaked emails suggest.
David Prescott, 49, was put on leave from his role as an aide to the Labour leader after the claims by two female students.
According to The Sunday Times, a female MP spoke to Mr Corbyn and Karie Murphy, his Scottish chief of staff, in November 2017 about the allegation that Mr Prescott had been “forceful, rude and aggressive” towards the two women after they refused to have sex with him.
In a memo to the Labour head of HR three days after the meeting, Ms Murphy wrote that the unnamed MP was “visibly distressed”.
Emails obtained by the newspaper reveal that Labour’s executive director and its head of governance and legal unit had sought Mr Prescott’s suspension as the “safest option”, a move that would have banned him from all party events pending a full investigation.
Mr Prescott, who was seeking to become the Labour candidate in Mansfield, would also have been barred from selection.
The head of the governance and legal unit, John Stolliday, wrote: “I think the party would be well within rights to prevent this person attending party events as more young people may potentially be put in that compromising position.”
The party’s head of complaints, Sam Matthews, circulated an email stating: “We believe that the most appropriate course of action... is to apply a suspension.”
A letter suspending Mr Prescott was drafted, but Ms Murphy blocked the move.
“I don’t agree that DP [David Prescott] membership should be suspended,” she wrote in an email.
“Until something is in writing, I don’t think we have grounds to suspend.”
Mr Prescott returned to his job as a speechwriter and staff member in the Labour media operation after two weeks’ suspension on full pay. He has denied the allegations and continues to work in Mr Corbyn’s office.
Labour insiders told The Sunday Times that the party often suspended individuals as members without receiving a formal complaint in writing.
“If you say it to Corbyn’s face, it’s a complaint,” one senior figure was quoted as saying.
Labour has previously been accused of failing to properly deal with allegations of sexual harassment against senior figures in the party.
Fellow Labour MP Stella Creasy said the report was “once again proof that we need a fully independent system to investigate and recommend sanctions on all harassment claims”.
A Labour spokesman said: “The Labour Party takes all complaints of sexual harassment extremely seriously. In this case, no formal complaint was received to investigate.
“We do not comment on individual staffing matters. The Labour Party takes disciplinary and grievance matters extremely seriously and follows protocol as directed by the Acas code of practice.”