A Labor MP who has been signed off sick amid a “sustained campaign of misogynistic abuse” is now facing a vote on whether she will be allowed to stand in the next election.
The party confirmed the threshold to hold a trigger ballot into Apsana Begum – meaning local party members can vote to keep her as their candidate or opt for someone else – had been passed and a vote will now go ahead, despite sources close to her saying over 40 complaints had been submitted to Labor about the process.
Friends of Ms Begum, who is Parliament’s first hijab-wearing MP, claim local members have broken rules to campaign for her deselection, but say the party has refused to pause the vote to investigate.
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One told Sky News: “She’s not against facing the process, she just wants to be treated fairly
“It is outrageous. Why would you not stop the process and investigate?”
The Labor Party would not comment on the specifics of the case, but a source said the trigger ballot was “a universal process faced by all Labor MPs on the same rules and procedures”, and Ms Begum will automatically be on the shortlist.
At last year’s Labor Party conference, the leadership pushed through a rule change that saw the threshold needed to trigger a ballot into a sitting MP raised.
Ms Begum released a statement last month saying her GP had signed her off sick after she had gone to hospital.
She added: “For the duration of my time as a member of parliament, I have been subjected to a sustained campaign of misogynistic abuse and harassment. As a survivor of domestic abuse, it has been particularly painful and difficult.
“This abusive campaign has had a significant effect on my mental and physical health.”
At the time, she appealed to the Labor Party to investigate complaints about the trigger ballot process, saying it was “vital” they looked into them and took “the appropriate action.”
last year, Ms Begum was cleared of housing fraud after her local council took her to court.
Tower Hamlets Council brought the prosecution, alleging she had failed to disclose information relating to her council housing application.
But her defense lawyer claimed a complaint made in 2019 by her ex-husband’s brother-in-law, which triggered the investigation, was “false”.
During the court case, she alleged her former partner, local councilor Ehtashamul Haque had been emotionally abusive and controlling. Mr Haque has denied all the allegations against him.