THE leader of Lambeth Council – one of the Labour Party’s key strongholds – has resigned while an investigation goes underway into allegations made against him relating to alleged sexual harassment.
Cllr Jack Hopkins, a well-known figure in Labour circles who frequently campaigned alongside Sadiq Khan during the recent London mayoral election, suddenly resigned last week after serving only two years as the council’s leader.
Yet his shock resignation may not in fact be so surprising after all, with it now being confirmed that the now-former leader is currently under investigation.
In March of this year, a woman raised an official complaint with the Labour party alleging that she had been the victim of sexual harassment and unwanted sexual touching by Hopkins.
Under pressure, Hopkins then self-referred himself to the party’s disciplinary system, and a probe into his conduct is now being carried out.
The victim has since stated that she has been left ‘disappointed’ by Labour’s inadequate complaints process, and believes that Hopkins’s ‘spontaneous’ resignation is not only a display of guilt, but an attempt to soften the impact of the investigation’s conclusions, which will be heard by a sexual harassment disputes panel made up from members of the party’s national executive committee.
Hopkins, who had only just put himself forward to continue in his role as leader of the council, has now admitted that he is under investigation. And in an apparent attempt to keep the allegations from gaining media attention, in a message sent to fellow colleagues, the councillor blamed his departure on a move of address, and also that that he wanted “to give my successor the chance to deliver a unified group and platform in the run-up to the next election in 2022 so that we can continue to deliver for the people of Lambeth”.
A Labour spokesperson said: “The Labour party has a zero-tolerance approach to sexual harassment and we take all complaints extremely seriously.”
VoteWatch will update in due course.