MP Debbie Abrahams out of Shadow Cabinet during workplace investigation

MP Debbie Abrahams has written to local Labour Party members to convey her confusion as she claims she has been removed without agreement from her role as a Shadow Cabinet Minister.

Debbie Abrahams MP (© Pete Jones pete@pjproductions.co.uk

On March 11, the Labour Party issued a statement saying the Oldham East and Saddleworth MP had stood down from the role during an investigation into complaints over an “employment issue”.

A Labour Party spokesperson said: “Debbie Abrahams has stood aside from her frontbench role while the Labour Party investigates an employment issue.

“Margaret Greenwood will act up as Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions during this period.”

However Mrs Abrahams, who was elected in 2011 and promoted to Shadow Cabinet Minister for Work and Pensions in 2016, says she has not agreed to stand aside and has not been informed of the nature of the complaints.

She said: “I refute the allegations that have been made against me in the strongest possible terms. I will fight this spurious claim and do not rule out taking legal action.

“I have had no details about the complaint, who it is from, the process or timescales. I have not agreed to stand aside.

“My treatment by certain individuals in the Leader’s Office over the last 10 months has been aggressive, intimidating and wholly unprofessional.

“My treatment in the last week has shown a bullying culture of the worst kind. As such I am making a formal complaint to both the Labour Party and Parliamentary Authorities.”

In a letter to local party members, she reiterated her position and said she has received hundreds of messages of support.

She wrote: “Following recent events I wanted to contact you personally about allegations that have been made against me.

“On Friday night I was told a formal complaint had been made against me that will be investigated by the Labour Party.

“Although I was given no details of who the complaint was from, the specifics of the complaint (other than ‘allegations of bullying’) or timescales, I deny, in the strongest possible terms, that there is any truth in these allegations.

“I believe in an open and honest working environment and many of my team members have worked for me for a number of years.

“I’ve been heartened by the hundreds of messages of support I have received from former work colleagues, people who have volunteered in the office, constituents and many more.

“I will fight this spurious claim and do not rule out legal action. I do not do this lightly but I believe it is unfair for allegations like this to be made against me when I have received little or no information about it.

“Given that I have received no details about the complaints, what they are about or what the timetable is for any investigation, which I asked for in writing, I also did not agree to stand aside as Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary.”

Andy Burnham, who is the first Mayor of Greater Manchester, took to social media to support his Labour colleague.

He tweeted: “Debbie has been very loyal and given her all to the Party over many years. She deserves much better than this.”

Mrs Abrahams was first elected as an MP in a by-election in Oldham East and Saddleworth in 2011, and she was re-elected in 2017.

She is the first MP to have trained as a Dementia Friends Champion and one of her most high profile campaigns, ‘Be Fair – Pay on Time’, resulted in late payments to small businesses being included in the 2014 Small Business Bill.

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