Jared O'Mara

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Jared O'Mara
Official portrait of Jared O'Mara crop 2.jpg
Official Parliamentary portrait, June 2017
Member of Parliament
for Sheffield Hallam
In office
8 June 2017 – 6 November 2019
Preceded byNick Clegg
Personal details
Jared Cain O'Mara

(1981-11-15) 15 November 1981 (age 38)
Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England[1]
CitizenshipUnited Kingdom
Political party
Alma materStaffordshire University

Jared Cain O'Mara (born 15 November 1981)[2] is a British politician. He was the Member of Parliament (MP)[3] for the constituency of Sheffield Hallam from 2017 to 2019, and was elected as the Labour candidate.[4]

After joining Parliament, O'Mara became a member of the Women and Equalities Select Committee, but resigned in October 2017, following the publication of offensive comments about women and gay men that he had made in 2009 and earlier.[5][6]

O'Mara was suspended from the Labour Party on 25 October 2017, following further reports of online comments made before his election that have been described as racist,[7] homophobic and misogynistic.[5] It was stated that O'Mara was reinstated in the Labour Party in July 2018,[8] a claim he denied.[9] He subsequently sat as an independent MP.[10]

On 27 July 2019, O'Mara announced that he would resign as a Member of Parliament in September 2019, after the summer recess.[11][12] Three weeks later, it was announced that O'Mara had been arrested on suspicion of fraud.[13]

Early life and education[edit]

O'Mara was born in Sheffield.[1] He has cerebral palsy, hemiparesis and is on the autism spectrum.[14][15] He was educated at Tapton School, in the city's Crosspool suburb,[16] and graduated from Staffordshire University with a first class honours degree in Journalism.[17] Before entering politics, he was a local school governor and had volunteered for Sheffield-based disability information services and charities.[17]

With friends, he ran West Street Live, a bar and music venue in Sheffield.[18]

O'Mara had stood as a Labour candidate in various Sheffield council elections.[17][19][20][21] He supported Jeremy Corbyn's election as Leader of the Labour Party in 2015 and 2016,[22] was a Momentum supporter and was backed by them during the 2017 election.[23]

Parliamentary career[edit]

In the 2017 general election, O'Mara contested the constituency of Sheffield Hallam, held by Nick Clegg, the former Liberal Democrat leader and former Deputy Prime Minister.[24] He was selected in an emergency selection process for the snap election under the control of the National Executive Committee and regional boards, rather than by the local constituency party.[25]

His campaign benefited from a national surge in the Labour vote and from university students in the constituency.[17][26] It has been claimed that Clegg was thought to be too anti-Brexit by voters, although Sheffield Hallam was estimated to have voted Remain in the 2016 European Union Referendum, and O'Mara supports Remain as well.[18]

O'Mara's campaign focused on disabled people's rights, protecting public services and on his personal background in Sheffield.[22] He won the seat with a majority of 2,125 votes, overturning Clegg's previous majority of 2,353 votes. The result was considered one of the most important seat changes of the night; O'Mara had not expected to win the seat.[4][18][27] His acceptance speech called for politicians to do more to stand up for disabled people.[28]

Given his disability, the buildings of the House of Commons have presented problems for O'Mara as the terms of the Equality Act 2010 are yet to be met.[29] In June 2017, the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, allowed MPs not to wear ties in the House of Commons,[30] a decision partly made because O'Mara's cerebral palsy makes it difficult for him to do up and wear a tie.[31] O'Mara said that he would not have run for election had he known these difficulties before becoming an MP.[31] O'Mara supports a zero-tolerance policy on shouting and heckling, saying that he cannot attend Prime Minister's Questions because of his anxiety triggered by aggression in the chamber.[31][32] O'Mara also supports exempting members from interventions during speeches, introducing proxy voting and allowing MPs to make speeches to the House of Commons via online video-stream.[31]

O'Mara advocates a second referendum on Brexit and has campaigned against fracking.[31]

O'Mara asked his first written question in October 2017.[33] O'Mara has never asked an oral question, and made his maiden speech on 24 July 2018,[34] the day before the start of the summer recess.[35] He was the 84th and final MP of the 2017 intake to make a maiden speech; the 83rd, David Duguid, spoke in November 2017.[36][37][38]

Labour whip suspension over online comments[edit]

O'Mara became a member of the Women and Equalities Select Committee in September 2017.[3] Following revelations of offensive comments he had made before becoming an MP, he resigned from the committee the following month.[39]

A series of derogatory comments about women and gay men posted by O'Mara on websites over a decade before he became an MP were revealed by the Guido Fawkes site on 23 October 2017.[40][41] He commented about the Girls Aloud pop group: "I advise you to sack Sarah and the remaining four members (Nicola, Cheryl, Nadine and Kimberley) come have an orgy with me"; and he said that the 2003 winner of Pop Idol, Michelle McManus, had "only won because she was fat".[6][40][42]

He has also been accused of making homophobic comments including referring to gay men as "poofters" and "fudge packers" and referring to jazz musician Jamie Cullum as a "conceited cunt" who should be "sodomised with his own piano".[6][43][44] O'Mara apologised "if his comments caused offence" and resigned from the Women and Equalities Select Committee.[6][44] In a later speech, O'Mara said that the homophobic words he used were part of an Eminem record he listened to at the time.[45]

The following day, O'Mara was accused by Sophie Evans, a Sheffield bar worker whom he had met through an online dating app, on BBC Two's Daily Politics of having "made transphobic slurs" towards her in March 2017, and of saying in the same incident that she was an "ugly bitch".[46][47] O'Mara denied the allegation.[48] On the same day, it also emerged that he had been posting derogatory comments about children in Sheffield and appeared to advocate corporal punishment to deal with delinquent youth.[49] Following the emergence of the comments to Evans, the Labour Party announced an investigation into O'Mara's conduct but stopped short of suspending him from the party.[50]

Further revelations were made public on 25 October 2017. On a Morrissey fan site in 2002, he was found to have made xenophobic insults, saying that Danes were "pig shaggers" who "practised bestiality" and referring to Spaniards as "dagos".[51] O'Mara, when reviewing the Arctic Monkeys in November 2004, made several sexual comments including how "sexy little slags" danced to the band's songs.[52] These revelations resulted in O'Mara being suspended from the Labour Party and therefore having the party whip withdrawn.[5]

It was reported on 15 January 2018 that O'Mara had not spoken publicly in his constituency since his apology on 23 October. After the party whip was suspended, he cancelled his constituency surgery.[53] In December 2017, a press statement explained that his leave was on the advice of his GP, who had discouraged him from attending Parliament, although O'Mara continued to deal with his constituents' casework.[54] After three months' absence, O'Mara returned to the House of Commons on 17 January 2018 and voted on the report stage of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill.[55]

Reinstatement and resignation from Labour Party[edit]

On 3 July 2018, it was announced that O'Mara would be readmitted to the Labour Party, following a review by its National Executive Committee disputes panel. This review had decided to issue O'Mara a formal warning with a mandatory requirement to attend training, rather than refer the issue to the National Constitutional Committee which has the power to expel members.[8] The decision was criticised by local Liberal Democrats, the closest challengers to Labour in Sheffield Hallam.[56] In a statement in July 2019, O'Mara said that he had never been reinstated to the party.[27]

In an interview with ITV following his readmission, O'Mara said that he had made three attempts on his life during his suspension and had developed an anxiety disorder.[15][57][58][59] He also revealed that he is on the autism spectrum,[15][60] and believes that he is the first autistic MP in history.[61] O'Mara restated his apology[60] and asked for forgiveness from his constituents and the country.[15][62] He refused to call a by-election and promised to make his maiden speech in July 2018,[15][63] which he did.[34]

On 12 July 2018, O'Mara announced his resignation from the Labour Party.[10][64][65] He said that he had "not been listened to or given a fair investigation" following his suspension, and that the party "no longer shares [his] commitment to the true definition of equality and compassion."[10][64] Offering to help constituents with casework, he suggested that he would not step down as an MP.[66] Despite his resignation, the Labour Party affirmed that it would continue to provide support for O'Mara; this was on the orders of Corbyn, who was concerned for O'Mara's welfare.[67][68][69] In October 2018, O'Mara said that the Labour Party had only made one adjustment for him, namely moving his office closer to the Commons chamber.[32] In July 2019, he said that Corbyn had made "false reports about me being a mental health danger around parliament" after O'Mara had complained about not being able to arrange a meeting with the former's office.[27]

On 18 July 2018, O'Mara announced that he would step back from his parliamentary duties on the advice of his GP.[70] This coincided with a series of crucial votes on the Brexit negotiations, for which reason O'Mara had unsuccessfully applied to vote by proxy.[61][69] In March 2019, O'Mara was absent for another series of key Brexit votes, having suffered an injury in the shower. After facing calls from his constituents to resign, O'Mara likened them to "a hooligan on the terraces threatening the referee whilst drinking flat lager and smelling of processed meats."[71][72]

On 24 April 2019, O'Mara suspended constituents' casework for a month, pending the recruitment of new staff and a move to a new constituency office.[73] It was reported that O'Mara no longer has any staff working for him, as all his staff have either resigned or been fired.[72][74]

Resignation from the House of Commons[edit]

In early July 2019, O'Mara said that he would stand for re-election at the next general election.[75] On 23 July 2019, Gareth Arnold, a member of O'Mara's communications team, took to the latter's Twitter account to publicly resign and voice his concerns about the MP.[76][77] Arnold said that O'Mara was "the most disgustingly morally bankrupt person [he had] ever had the displeasure of working with" and had shown "inexcusable contempt" for his constituents. He told O'Mara to call a by-election.[78] On 25 July 2019, O'Mara released a public statement, apologising "to everybody for everything". He said that he had been "bullied and mistreated" and "wasn't even meant to win the election", having received no support from the national party for his campaign. He said that he would be "taking time out to...deal with my mental health and personal issues regarding self-medication".[27] An investigation by the BBC revealed that Arnold was still working for O'Mara two weeks following his resignation, having "extended his notice period", and that staff hired in O'Mara's office had not received the security clearance required by parliamentary authorities.[79]

On 27 July 2019 it was reported that O'Mara had sexually harassed a 20-year-old employee. O'Mara had sent WhatsApp messages to the employee, often late at night, in which he revealed his love for her, calling her "an angel", "a delicate little flower" and "effortlessly pretty".[80][81] In a separate message to his constituency staff, O'Mara accused the Liberal Democrat prospective parliamentary candidate for his seat of believing in eugenics, and claimed that she had repressed sexual feelings for him.[82] Later that day, he announced that he would be standing down as an MP in September 2019, after Parliament's summer recess.[11][12]

In mid-August 2019, it was reported that O'Mara and Arnold had been arrested on suspicion of fraud, but were released a day later subject to further investigation.[83][84][85] Arnold had allegedly referred O'Mara to the police in July 2019 over his expenses,[84] after which the police raided O'Mara's office, seizing documents and computers.[85]

On 3 September 2019, O’Mara announced that he had postponed his application to resign from the House of Commons.[86]

On 4 October 2019, one of O'Mara's constituents made a formal complaint to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, alleging O'Mara had failed to act in the public interest and had used public money for his own benefit, and calling for a full investigation into his affairs.[87]

O'Mara voted for the "Letwin amendment" and against the government during the special sitting of Parliament on 19 October 2019.[88][89]

He did not stand again in the December 2019 general election.[90]


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External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Nick Clegg
Member of Parliament for Sheffield Hallam
Succeeded by
To be elected