EXCLUSIVE: Sheffield Hallam MP Jared O'Mara's former aide Gareth Arnold explains decision to quit in foul-mouthed Twitter rant

The employee of controversial Sheffield Hallam MP Jared O’Mara who quit in a foul-mouthed rant has said he could no longer sit back and watch him have such contempt for constituents.

Tuesday, 23rd July 2019, 22:19 pm
Updated Tuesday, 23rd July 2019, 23:57 pm

Gareth Arnold, who had only been employed as Mr O’Mara’s chief of staff for eight weeks, quit in sensational fashion by posting a series of tweets from the MP’s own official account and urged him to call a by-election.

Speaking exclusively to The Star, he said he had posted the tweets because he felt ‘something big needed to happen’ for the sake of Sheffield Hallam constituents.

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

Jared O'Mara.

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

During two turbulent years as an MP, Mr O’Mara has quit the Labour Party after being suspended over alleged historic misogynistic and homophobic comments made online.

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.

Mr O’Mara recently launched a petition calling for politicians to be able to vote remotely that would allow them to spend more time tending to matters in their constituencies.

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.

He said: “This is not me being big headed but many people had said that if there was one person who could help him and try and turn it around it was me.

“I got his office up and running, I booked him surgeries, I got him to start submitting written questions, being more active in parliament and start engaging with the press again.”

Mr Arnold said he encountered difficulties with the MP ‘from day one’ of his eight-week stint.

Mr O’Mara, who has cerebral palsy, has previously spoken of his disabilities and mental health difficulties.

The former Labour MP revealed he attempted suicide after he was suspended from the party over a string of misogynistic and homophobic comments he made online.

Asked why he decided to resign on Mr O’Mara’s own Twitter account, Mr Arnold said: “Something big needs to happen. He is just going to sit there and close his office, and, once again, constituents with very serious issues will have nowhere to turn to.”

The tweets read: “Sheffield Hallam deserves so much better than you. You have wasted opportunities which people dare not to even dream of.

“Leaving constituents desperate for representation again. No matter if they are having their homes taken away, their liberties disgraced or being deported because of your inaction.

“My fear is that now (as I quit) the rest of the staff will leave and once again you will close your office and stop helping anyone but still take your wages until you have the decency to call a by-election.

“I cannot and will not defend you and your vile, inexcusable contempt for the people who voted you in. You selfish, degenerate p****.

“Comms Team signing off, forever: Jared, you are the most disgustingly morally bankrupt person I have ever had the displeasure of working with.

“You do not care about your constituents. You do not care about anyone but yourself.

“Consider this my resignation. Thanks, Gareth Arnold.”

Mr Arnold said the recall option – the process whereby MPs can be removed from their seat – ‘relied on the fact that MPs have a moral conscience’.

Mr O’Mara did not respond to The Star’s request for a comment.