On 2 August, the Labour MP for Birmingham Perry Barr, Khalid Mahmood, was found by a tribunal to have unfairly dismissed his parliamentary aide and former lover, Elaina Cohen.
The decision was announced after a four day hearing in London. As well as succeeding in her claim for unfair dismissal, Ms Cohen also won her claim of detriment that Mahmood had marginalised and isolated her for a year. Her other claims – that the dismissal was the direct result of whistle-blowing and was motivated by racial and religious discrimination – were dismissed.
Mr Mahmood and Ms Cohen had a two year affair which ended in 2005. She then continued to work for him until she was sacked in 2020. In 2019 and 2020, Ms Cohen made submissions under the Employments Right Act against a female colleague, claiming she wanted to protect constituents and her employer’s reputation and maintain standards. She said that Mahmood ignored her concerns and then isolated her and threatened to sack her.
Mr Mahmood’s lawyers countered her claims by asserting that Ms Cohen had a history of making life difficult for women working for the MP. It was suggested that she had been targeting the female intern out of jealousy. The intern had complained to the House of Commons personnel department, saying Ms Cohen had stalked her online and forced her to limit her social media accounts.
Mahmood was elected to Birmingham Perry Barr in 2001 – the UK’s first Muslim MP. He has served on the Labour front bench under both Jeremy Corbyn and Keir Starmer. He was Starmer’s shadow minister for defence but resigned from the post last year, complaining that the party has been taken over by a ‘London-based bourgeoisie, with the support of brigades of woke social media warriors.’
It remains to be seen how Keir Starmer will respond to the tribunal’s decision. Will he remove the whip from Mr Mahmood?
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