A Labour MP who allegedly told a Times reporter she “should have come down here with a bat and smashed your face in” when he knocked on her door for a story will speak at a media festival next month.
Reporter Will Humphries approached Kate Osamor MP over her continued employment of 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.
The Times claimed Osamor had told Humphries to “fuck off”, thrown a bucket of water at him and called police to accuse him of stalking her.
This week press reform campaign group the Media Reform Coalition announced Osamor as a speaker at its Media Democracy Festival on “fixing Britain’s broken media”, which is being held in London on 16 March.
An MRC spokesperson told Press Gazette: “We would like to be clear that we do not condone threats to journalists in any form and note that Kate Osamor did apologise.
“But the coalition is very interested in hearing about the experiences of a high profile woman of colour in Parliament in light of the vitriol regularly aimed at her and others such as Diane Abbott and as documented, for example, in Amnesty’s 2017 report on Twitter abuse against women MPs.”
Osamor resigned from her post as Shadow International Development Secretary the day after the incident, saying she wanted to concentrate on supporting her family through a “difficult time”.
Almost two weeks later, Osamor tweeted: “Recent weeks have taken their toll on my health. I am deeply sorry for my emotional outbursts and I am working to better manage my feelings.
“I ask for space and understanding so I can care for my family and get us through this difficult time.”
She has since said in a statement to Press Gazette this week: “I would like to apologise if any of my actions or words have been misinterpreted by others in any way over recent months.
“Whilst I am a devoted public servant to my constituents in Edmonton, I am first and foremost a mother.
“The issue concerning my son was and remains a private family matter. Nothing that my son did had impacted upon his work in my office or upon my work within the constituency.
“I am concerned and disappointed by the selective reporting of the facts which has taken place by the media, such that potential legal proceedings may follow.
“I would like to put this ordeal behind me so that I can focus upon my family and continue to serve my constituency to the very best of my ability. I do not have anything more to say at this point.”
The festival is billed as a day of talks and workshops about “imagining a media that informs, represents and empowers us and planning how we get there”.
Discussions will touch on challenging bias, confronting Islamophobia and how to take on the tech platforms, the coalition has said.
Other speakers will include Guardian columnists Owen Jones and Dawn Foster, Novara Media senior editor Ash Sarkar, former Jeremy Corbyn spokesperson Matt Zarb-Cousin, Goldsmiths media lecturers Anamik Saha and Natalie Fenton, and Labour MP Clive Lewis.
Jones defended Osamor on Twitter the day after the doorstepping incident, writing: “Kate Osamor should not have lashed out in the way she did. She lost her temper, badly, after being harassed for months on her doorstep late at night over an unjust story.
“Boris Johnson was once recorded threatening to beat up a journalist. It wasn’t an angry outburst after being harassed. It was a premeditated conspiracy. Yet his career thrived afterwards and most of the journalists angrily condemning Osamor treated Johnson as an amusing clown.
“What do you call a media which says that a black female politician who angrily lashes out after being unjustly harassed on her doorstep should lose her job, but treats a privileged white Etonian who conspires to beat up a journalist as a hilarious joker?”
Picture: Reuters/Darren Staples