What has happened to embattled Sheffield MP Jared O'Mara?

The Star is today asking what has happened to Jared O'Mara in the month since the scandal broke over homophobic and misogynist tweets he posted as a young man.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 29 November, 2017, 15:41
Jared O'Mara

The Sheffield Hallam MP, who sensationally ousted Nick Clegg in June, was last month suspended by the Labour Party over the offensive Twitter comments and an allegation which he denies that he called a bar worker an 'ugly b***h' as recently as March.

The 36-year-old apologised then for the tweets, some of which date back as far as 2002, and said he was a very different person now to the young man who made them.

He stepped down from the women and equalities select committee but resisted calls to resign, despite a petition saying he should do so which has now been signed more than 800 times.

But he has since been remarkably quiet, prompting claims he is lying low and waiting for the controversy to blow over rather than righting his wrongs and proving he has changed through his actions.

Mr O'Mara and his constituency office have failed to respond to numerous calls and emails from The Star asking what he has been doing to represent his constituents and justify his £75,000 annual salary.

He has yet to speak in parliament, even to make his maiden speech, and has voted just 20 times, the most recent being on October 18.

The former DJ, who used to run the music venue West Street Live, has tabled 40 written questions, all between October 10 and November 20, and supported 29 early day motions.

He spoke in July about how his cerebral palsy had prevented him attending parliament, where there was often no seat available, but in August he told The Star he was 'getting into the swing of things', and his maiden speech was planned for September.

When the scandal broke, Charlotte Mead, Sheffield branch leader of the Women's Equality Party, urged Mr O'Mara to show his apology was heartfelt by getting behind efforts to counter misogyny.

But she said attempts to contact him and get him involved with events like the recent launch of Sheffield's Safer Streets campaign had proved unsuccessful, and she felt time was running out for him to prove himself.

"I'm concerned they're waiting and hoping people will forget about what he did, given everything that's happened since, and it will be swept under the carpet," she said.

"If that does happen, we certainly won't let him forget.

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"Some people would say we were incredibly generous given what he'd been accused of. We were almost giving him a way out, which he should have grabbed with both hands but didn't.

"I think time's running out. If he contacted us now, he would really have to do a lot to prove himself."

Mr O'Mara cancelled his constituency surgery after being suspended from the Labour Party, and it is understood it has not resumed, though his office refused to answer The Star's questions.

Staff at his constituency office would only say the office was 'working normally', adding 'people have been in touch with casework and other things, and we've been dealing with those.

The Labour Party said the investigation into Mr O'Mara's behaviour was ongoing and it would be inappropriate to comment at this stage.

Mr O'Mara has been critical of Sheffield Council's stance on street trees, and in August he promised to make the controversy his key priority.

But he has not spoken out on the subject recently, nor has he raised the matter of disabled rights publicly in recent weeks, despite pledging after his election to be a 'tireless voice' for disabled people.

The most recent post on his official Twitter account is the apology for the offensive tweets made in his youth.

His website states: "Since being elected Jared has got to work listening to constituents about their issues and representing them in Parliament."

There are numerous posts listing his written questions and responses, on topics including rail investment and support for transplant patients, but the most recent of these went up a fortnight ago.

While he has kept quiet, the Liberal Democrats, who hope to benefit from the controversy, have been making plenty of noise.

The party has selected Laura Gordon as its candidate for the constituency, which she said 'deserves a fresh new voice to stand up for our community', and Lib Dem leader Vince Cable visited at the weekend.