The Times has condemned a Labour MP’s “outrageous” behaviour after claiming she told its reporter she “should have come down here with a bat and smashed your face in” when he knocked on her door.
Kate Osamor also allegedly threw a bucket of water at Times reporter Will Humphries as he asked for her response to a story on Friday.
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- February 6, 2019
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She told him to “fuck off” and called the police, accusing him of stalking her, according to the newspaper.
Police were called to her home in North London. A Met Police spokesperson said: “Police were called at approximately 19:45 on Friday, 30 November … after the occupant expressed concerns regarding an individual outside.
“Officers attended and spoke with both parties. No offences were disclosed and no further allegations were made to police.”
Osamor resigned as Shadow International Development Secretary the next day, saying she wanted to “concentrate on supporting my family through the difficult time we have been experiencing”.
The Edmonton MP has come under fire for continuing to employ her son Ishmael as an aide after he pleaded guilty to possession of £2,500 worth of drugs at the 2017 Bestival music festival in Dorset.
Labour claimed she was unaware of her son’s arrest until he was sentenced in October, but several newspapers, including the Times, revealed that she wrote to the judge in the case before sentencing, asking him to be lenient.
Tweeting about the doorstep incident, Humphries said it was “one of the more interesting door knocks I’ve ever done”, adding that he “couldn’t quite believe it when the bucket came out”.
In a leader column published today, the Times said: “In a democracy it is the job of the press to hold the powerful to account on behalf of their fellow citizens.
“And in a free society journalists should be able to do their jobs without being threatened. That includes being able to knock on front doors and seek answers to questions.”
It added: “This was an outrageous way to treat our colleague. Ms Osamor has now rightly resigned from her job as the Shadow International Development Secretary.
“Yet it is telling that her resignation statement included no acknowledgement that she had lied about her knowledge of her son’s drug arrest nor did it contain any word of apology toThe Timesor our reporter.
“Similarly the statement by Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, accepting her resignation included no criticism of her behaviour.
“Across the world, attacks and threats against journalists are on the rise. This is no longer limited to authoritarian countries. In the past year, reporters have been killed in Slovakia and Malta.
“Populist politicians in western countries use increasingly violent language against journalists. President Trump routinely refers to the press as the “enemy of the people”. Ms Osamor — with Mr Corbyn’s approval — did not just throw a bucket of water at our reporter, she threw it at all of us.”
Osamor has yet to offer a public apology for the incident and has since liked tweets criticising the “disgusting” way the press has treated her.
Michelle Stanistreet, general secretary of the National Union of Journalists, called Osamor’s behaviour was “completely unacceptable”.
“Journalists, like any other workers, need to be able to go about their work without fear of threats or assault,” she said.
“It’s completely unacceptable to respond to legitimate press queries, however unwelcome they may be, with physical or verbal abuse.
“There is a disturbing and febrile international climate at the moment that is facilitating and legitimising the notion that it is open season on journalists – such insidious and dangerous beliefs, particularly when they emanate from public figures in positions of authority, have to be challenged at every turn.”
Press Gazette has contacted Kate Osamor’s office and the Labour Party for comment.
Picture: Reuters/Darren Staples