Streeting calls for “high standards” from MPs as Labour replaces candidate Darren Rodwell

The Barking candidate was replaced after allegations of sexual harassment reports Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

The UK houses of parliament, viewed from across the road at the top of The Mall
The palace of Westminster – home to the UK’s houses of parliament

Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting admitted yesterday that Labour has been forced to take “tough decisions” over its choice of candidates, in the run up to the party’s candidate in Barking being replaced.

Streeting said it was right for Labour to demand “high standards” of its parliamentary hopefuls, pointing out that several MPs over the last few years have been forced to quit amid allegations of misconduct.

The Independent reported on Monday that the party’s candidate in Barking, Darren Rodwell, is facing sexual harassment accusations after he allegedly behaved “inappropriately” with a woman at an event last month.

It subsequently emerged that Rodwell, who is the leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, was removed from the official list of Labour candidates, which was due endorsed by the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) late yesterday afternoon. Last night, he was replaced as the candidate for Barking by Enfield Council leader Nesil Caliskan.

Allegations of harassment

In a complaint to the party, seen by The Independent, the woman alleged that Rodwell, who is the leader of Barking and Dagenham council, asked “personal questions” and touched her “hands and legs in a sexual way” during a meeting.

According to The Independent, the complaint file reads: ”The complainant has received confirmation that an investigator will be contacting her in regards to the allegations.”

Rodwell has vehemently denied the allegation, saying: “I utterly refute what is being said, specifically: I have not engaged in sexual harassment of any kind.” A Labour spokesman said the complaints process is confidential.

Speaking before the decision to remove Rodwell as a candidate, Streeting told the Local Democracy Reporting Service:  “I’m not aware of the specific case in Barking, but what I can say with absolute confidence is that when Keir Starmer said he would deliver high standards in public life, he really meant it.

“Ahead of this general election, the Labour Party has had to make some tough decisions about candidates we put forward, because we want to make sure that when people cast their vote, that Labour rose on the ballot paper isn’t just a statement of our values, but is a statement of the quality of the candidate.

“High standards”

“When you look at the parliament we’ve just left and you look at the fact we’ve got MPs who’ve found themselves in court, MPs who haven’t been able to keep their hands themselves, MPs who’ve offered to take backhanders to leak documents, MPs who’ve been looking at tractor porn in the House of Commons, it is absolutely right that we ask of our candidates high standards and where they fall short, action is taken.

“I’d much rather deal with the short term, difficult questions of dropping candidates now, than the failure [on] the other side of the election, if we have MPs letting down not just the Labour Party but letting down the country.”

The allegations of sexual harassment came as a clip of Rodwell emerged, in which he claimed he had asked police not to respond if they were contacted by a resident he was planning to confront at their home.

Speaking about the “immense abuse” he had received online, Rodwell said he tracked down the address of a person who had threatened to “take him out” when officers said they could not do anything about a social media threat.

He told the Propertyshe podcast in 2022: “I found out where the person lived because you know I have the ways and means, so I used them.

“Say it to my face”

“I phoned, or my office phoned, the police up and said ‘the Leader wants to let you know, don’t worry if you get a phone call from this address but it’s only him going up round there asking why they think they could do a Go Fund Me page to have him taken out’.”

He added: “The Tri-borough Commander at the time knew me well enough to know that I would go round there and knock on their door because if you’re willing to say it on a keyboard, if you are willing to say it from afar, then say it to my face, because that’s how you do it in the working class communities of Barking and Dagenham and round the country.”

It is unclear if Rodwell did confront the resident.

Rodwell was chosen as the Labour candidate for Barking in 2022, replacing Dame Margaret Hodge who is retiring.

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