Hitchin and Harpenden MP Bim Afolami alleges Labour members’ attempts to harass family

PUBLISHED: 09:15 30 October 2017 | UPDATED: 11:49 30 October 2017

Hitchin and Harpenden MP Bim Afolami at the Houses of Parliament. Picture: Danny Loo

Hitchin and Harpenden MP Bim Afolami at the Houses of Parliament. Picture: Danny Loo

Danny Loo Photography 2017

Hitchin and Harpenden MP Bim Afolami has become embroiled in a row with the constituency Labour Party after accusing certain members of trying to harass his family.

Hitchin and Harpenden Labour Party head John Hayes, who contested the seat against Bim Afolami in June's General Election. Credit: Layth Yousif Hitchin and Harpenden Labour Party head John Hayes, who contested the seat against Bim Afolami in June's General Election. Credit: Layth Yousif

In a series of tweets at 1am yesterday morning, Mr Afolami said he had been told that attempts had been made by some Labour members in Hitchin and Harpenden to identify where his two sons go to school, though they are too young to attend.

The 31-year-old Conservative added that he had made parliamentary authorities aware of the situation and contacted police, albeit without making a formal complaint.

Hitchin and Harpenden Labour Party chairman John Hayes pledged action, tweeting in response: “We take such allegations very seriously and totally and utterly condemn anyone guilty of harassment. They have no place in any political party.”

But dialogue between Mr Afolami and Mr Hayes during the day has led to fresh disagreement between them.

Mr Afolami tweeted at 9.48pm that Mr Hayes had “confirmed that conversations about getting the detail (for political purposes) as to my address and where my children go to school did take place during internal party discussions”, but that “he assures me that the Hitchin Labour Party has ‘absolutely no intention of using personal information about my family in any campaign whatsoever’.”

Mr Afolami said he was “happy to draw a line under this issue”, adding: “I have explained to Mr Hayes my belief that family members of MPs should be off-limits in public life.”

But Mr Hayes has taken exception to Mr Afolami’s statement that Labour had confirmed holding internal discussions about where the Conservative MP lives and sends his children to school.

Mr Hayes tweeted at 9.57pm last night: “That is not what I said in my email to you Bim. Please check that email again and correct this.”

At 5.54am this morning, he tweeted again: “I am making a further request for you to issue a full and accurate statement regarding yesterday’s allegation against Labour.”

Councillor Judi Billing – who represents Hitchin Bearton ward for Labour – has also challenged Mr Afolami’s statement, tweeting: “That is not what happened at all, Bim. And you know that it is not.”

Mr Afolami told this paper today: “I have been clear numerous times in public and in private correspondence that I moved to the constituency in June - we are renting and are looking to buy. The local Labour Party already knew this.

“I never accused the Labour Party of actually harming my family. I originally stated that I was privately informed – as it happens, by a concerned member of the Hitchin Labour Party – that certain elements within Hitchin Labour were trying to find out personal information, including where my children went to school (tough to ascertain on the second issue as they are still too young to attend!).

“The chair of Hitchin Labour has now assured me that they have ‘absolutely no intention of using personal information about my family in any campaign whatsoever’.

“The disagreement here is fundamental. Certain members of Hitchin Labour – by no means all – seem to believe that personal information about my very young children is fair game for political purposes.

“I don’t. Even if as MPs we give up a huge amount of personal privacy, our families should be protected to a certain extent.”

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