An East London MP has been signed off work sick by her GP after being repeatedly targeted in a “sustained campaign” of misogynistic abuse. Apsana Begum, the MP for Poplar & Limehouse, has this evening (Wednesday, June 22) announced she has been signed off work by a GP following a hospital appointment on June 12.
Posting on Twitter this evening, Ms Begum, 32, described how the sick leave has already left her unable to take part in an important democratic process within the Labour Party to determine candidates for the next general election, reports the Mirror. She also described the ongoing abuse as “particularly painful and difficult” for her to endure, as a survivor of domestic abuse.
Ms Begum wrote: “For the duration of my time in Parliament, as a Member of Parliament I have been subjected to a sustained campaign of misogynistic abuse and harassment. As a survivor of domestic abuse, it has been particularly painful and difficult. The abusive campaign has had a significant impact on my mental and physical health.”
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(Image: UK Parliament, Licensed under creative commons (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/))
She explained that because she is unable to work she has not been able to participate in the Labour Party’s internal trigger ballot process. This process is when the local party and affiliate branches vote on whether they want to go through the process to select their candidate to contest their seat in the next general election.
Ms Begum’s statement continued: “I am very concerned by the wider circumstances surrounding the trigger ballot process. This has included complaints of alleged rule-breaking and alleged misogynistic intimidation. Regrettably, the treatment I have faced will be all too familiar to women, socialists, and those from minority ethnic backgrounds.”
She added: “If the Labour Party is to be the party of equality, it must do all it can to ensure that such behaviour is never tolerated.” Ms Begum didn’t say when she would return but added that her staff will continue to support constituents.
In July last year, she was cleared by a jury of housing fraud. Ms Begum was on trial at Snaresbrook Crown Court in London for three counts of dishonestly failing to disclose information relating to her council housing application during three periods between January 2013 and March 2016.
Tower Hamlets Council, which brought the prosecution, alleged that the cost to the local authority was £63,928 because someone else on the housing list had to be given accommodation elsewhere. In a statement provided after her acquittal, Ms Begum claimed the case against her had been driven by “malicious intent” and had caused her “great distress”.
She said: “I would like to say a sincere thank you to all my legal team and all those who have shown me solidarity, support and kindness. As a survivor of domestic abuse facing these vexatious charges, the last 18 months of false accusations, online sexist, racist, and Islamophobic abuse, and threats to my safety, have been exceedingly difficult.”
She added: “I will be consulting and considering how to follow up so that something like this doesn’t happen again to anyone else.”
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