EXCLUSIVE: MP’s former aide: ‘I couldn’t let Jared O’Mara continue to cause upset for the people of Sheffield Hallam’

It was one of the shocks of the 2017 General Election.

Wednesday, 24th July 2019, 21:00 pm

The then deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg had lost his Sheffield Hallam seat and everyone remembers the pictures from the election count at the English Institute of Sport.

Step forward Labour’s Jared O’Mara. He became the third MP in parliament with cerebral palsy, having previously worked as a music events organiser in Sheffield.

“Quite frankly, I absolutely wasn’t expecting it,” Mr O’Mara said after winning the seat.

Labour MP Jared O'Hara looks over his shoulder after unseating former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg from his Sheffield Hallam seat in the General Election in 2017.

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Labour was not expecting to improve on its share of the vote from 2015, when Oliver Coppard ran a well-publicised campaign but fell 2,353 votes short of taking the seat.

But within months of Mr O’Mara’s victory, he was stripped of the Labour whip because of comments made online before standing for parliament.

His whip was reinstated in July 2018 following an investigation only for him to resign from the party nine days later.

More recently, he closed his constituency office for a month in April, all his staff were either sacked or walked out, with at least one tribunal pending and he stopped holding surgeries or responding to correspondence from the public for a period of time.

However, he also told The Star just weeks ago that he has got a fresh team behind him and is operating from a new office in the city centre.

Now, Mr O’Mara, who has previously spoken of his disabilities and mental health difficulties, has been left to pick up the pieces after his former chief of staff resigned in the most spectacular fashion following a foul-mouthed rant on the MP’s own Twitter account.

Gareth Arnold posted on Twitter how Sheffield Hallam ‘deserved so much better than him’ and labelled him a ‘selfish, degenerate p****.’

Mr Arnold said: “I think today was the straw that broke the camel’s back. He has a selfish lack of accountability in any of his actions. The problem is that it’s not about Jared O’Mara, it’s about the people who have voted for him.”

He added: “I could no longer stand by and watch a man engage in such depraved behaviour with such contempt for constituents in Sheffield Hallam.

“He simply was not wanting to do the job. I think if anything he would be happier if the constituents didn’t exist.”

Mr Arnold said he was an old friend of Mr O’Mara’s and had opened the new office and helped recruit a new team of staff.

But he said couldn’t ‘help the MP anymore’ and had ‘tried everything’.

Mr Arnold said: “I couldn’t let him continue to upset and cause suffering to the people of Sheffield Hallam because he is not willing to help himself to be able to help others.

“I turned down a much higher paid job in California to work for him because I cared that much but now I have burned that bridge and I am unemployed.”

But question marks have been raised about Mr Arnold too. He came in for heavy criticism from constituents for posting odd tweets on Mr O’Mara’s account including a picture of the MP as a Roman emperor and that if he had a dog ‘he would name it Stephen’.

Mr Arnold said: “Jared found a lot of the tweets funny but unfortunately his work ethic didn’t fall in line with the new image.

“It was about drawing more attention to him so that he had got a bigger platform in which to express himself.”

Mr Arnold, who describes himself as a blogger and a digital marketing professional, rose to prominence in 2014 when he set up a social media account called Britain Furst, which was intended to troll the right-wing political group Britain First.

The following year he set up a satirical news website and posted fake news articles mocking tabloid titles.

Asked about the future, he said he thought Mr O’Mara should resign ‘and will have by Friday morning’.

The former chief of staff also spoke of concerns about the recall option – the process whereby MPs can be removed from their seat.

The Recall of MPs Act 2015 states that the petition officer will open a recall petition if an MP has been convicted of an offence and received a custodial sentence or ordered to be detained, been barred from the House of Commons for 10 sitting days or 14 calendar days or convicted of providing false or misleading expense claims.

Mr Arnold said: “The problem is that the recall procedure isn’t unfit for purpose but it’s purpose relies on the fact that MPs have a moral conscience and if you want to to be on £78,000 a year and sit in your house and not do anything, there’s nothing to stop you at all.”

Mr O’Mara did not respond to The Star’s request for a comment and The Star was told his office was ‘closed and no-one was in it’ when it attended on Wednesday.

His biggest rival Laura Gordon said he was ‘clearly struggling with his position’ and called for him to step down.

TIMELINE

June 8, 2017

Jared O’Mara is elected as Sheffield Hallam MP at the expense of the former Liberal Democrat leader and former deputy prime minister.

October 17, 2017

Mr O’Mara asks his first written question about the Prime Minister’s discussions with Israel about the centenary of the Balfour Declaration.

October 23, 2017

A series of derogatory comments about women and gay men posted by Mr O’Mara more tha n a decade before he became an MP are revealed. He apologised ‘if his comments caused offence’ and resigned from the women and equalities select committee.

October 24, 2017

Mr O’Mara is accused by a Sheffield bar worker of having ‘made transphobic slurs’ towards her in March 2017. He denied the comments and the Labour party launched an investigation.

October 25, 2017

Mr O’Mara is suspended from the Labour party after xenophobic insults he posted in 2002 are revealed.

December 13, 2017

Mr O’Mara releases a statement stating he had been advised by his GP not to attend Parliament.

July 3, 2018

The Labour party announces that Jared O’Mara would be readmited to the party following a review by its National Executive Committee disputes panel. He was issued with a formal warning with a mandatory requirement to attend training.

July 11, 2018

Mr O’Mara reveals he attempted suicide after being ‘hounded by the press’ following the misogynistic and homophobic comments.

July 12, 2018

Jared O’Mara resigns from the Labour party, stating he had ‘not been listened to or given a fair investigation’.

July 18, 2018

Mr O’Mara announces that he would step back from parliamentary duties on the advice of his GP.

March 29, 2019

Mr O’Mara likens constituents who criticised his failure to vote in key Brexit policy amendments to football hooligans who ‘smell of processed meats’.

April 24, 2019

Mr O’Mara suspends casework for a month and closes his office, all his staff were either sacked or walked out, with at least one tribunal pending.

July 23, 2019

Gareth Arnold, Mr O’Mara’s former chief of staff, took to the MP’s Twitter account to launch a foul-mouthed resignation.