When a by-election could be held to replace Sheffield Hallam MP Jared O’Mara

A by-election to replace controversial Jared O’Mara could be held as soon as October with the Sheffield Hallam MP expected to resign in four weeks’ time.

By Sam Cooper
Tuesday, 06 August, 2019, 19:45

Mr O’Mara said he would tender his resignation following the MPs’ summer recess, which is due to end on September 3.

It came after the most turbulent week of his controversial time in office last month. His former aide Gareth Arnold resigned in a foul-mouthed Twitter rant on the MP’s own Twitter account, and a former member of staff accused him of ‘sexual harassment’.

Dr Felicity Matthews, a senior politics lecturer at the University of Sheffield, said the ‘bitter’ by-election could be held within weeks of his resignation.

Jared O'Mara MP for Sheffield Hallam

She said: “You could be looking at a by-election by the end of October and that’s interesting in itself because I live in Sheffield Hallam and the Lib Dems have been out since it lost its seat in 2017.

“It’s going to be a real bitter battle and Labour were not able to publicly campaign against Jared before his resignation and even now it's going to be interesting.”

The Star exclusively revealed Mr O’Mara, aged 37, would be handing in his resignation on September 3, after he said he was ‘not well and in the process of receiving medical help’

The MP said: “Please let everyone be assured that I will be tendering my resignation via the official Parliamentary process as soon as term restarts.

“I am not in any fit state to continue and nor would that be appropriate if I was. I reiterate my apology to my constituents, the people of Sheffield and the people of the UK as whole.”

Dr Matthews said MPs who want to resign must following a formal procedure which is laid out in legislation from 1624 and when that’s been approved a 'writ' is written, which then has to be agreed by MPs.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

She said: “That can only be done when parliament is sitting.”

On the evening of July 23, Gareth Arnold commandeered the official Hallam MP Twitter account and lambasted O’Mara for having ‘contempt’ for his constituents.

He said he was a friend of O’Mara’s and had been told by those around him that he was the one person who could ‘help him try and turn it around’.

A lengthy ‘joint’ statement from the pair was later released, saying the politician would be taking time out to seek professional help for his mental health, and that he wanted to apologise to his family, friends, constituents and a staff member he said he was in love with during a ‘delusional episode’.

The statement was released less than 10 hours before the allegations made by the same staff member, Jen Barnes, were made public.

These included text messages sent to her, including one she received in which O’Mara claimed to be ‘madly in love’ with her.

She claims he described her as ‘effortlessly pretty’ and a ‘delicate little flower’ in other messages.

When asked to comment specifically on the allegations, the MP – who was portrayed as a ‘sex pest’ in the resulting tabloid furore – said: “It’s all true.”

Mr O’Mara has cerebral palsy and is autistic. Following his election in 2017 he enjoyed a brief honeymoon period, during which he pledged to be a champion for disability rights. But a short time later, misogynistic and homophobic posts surfaced that he had made online as a younger man, and his reputation in Hallam – and the political arena generally – never recovered.