Labour MP made 'security threat' jokes about clerk from Northern Ireland

Keith Vaz is accused of making jokes about his former clerk Jenny McCullough's Northern Irish background. Picture by Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Labour MP Keith Vaz has been accused of bullying House of Commons clerks, including claiming his former clerk was a security threat due to her Northern Ireland background.

The Leicester MP has been accused of bullying House of Commons staff, as well as breaking from normal procedure during taxpayer-funded trips.

BBC Newsnight published a string of allegations from staff about mistreatment at the hands of the former chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee.

Jenny McCullough, who worked as a clerk until 2011, alleged that Mr Vaz told her she was incompetent because she was "not a mother".

She alleged he launched a "tirade" at her in a hotel lobby when she raised her concerns on a 2008 trip to Russia and Ukraine, explaining to her manager in an email: "He then demanded to know what age I was.

"He told me that I didn't know how the House (of Commons) worked and that I didn't respect the authority of members, his authority in particular as a senior member of many years experience and chairman of the committee, that I had an attitude problem."

She further told Newsnight: "He told me that I wasn't capable of serving the committee because I wasn't a mother...

"All I knew was it wasn't normal to be harangued about my fertility status in the reception of a hotel room, at public expense in front of my colleague on the team."

Representatives for Mr Vaz told the programme he denied berating Ms McCullough and did not "at any time insult her maternal status".

The MP was forced to step down as chairman of the influential committee in 2016 following a after becoming embroiled in a rent boy scandal.

Several staff told the programme that Mr Vaz's overseas trips with the Westminster committee would often deviate from the planned itinerary without explanation.

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