Simon Danczuk

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Simon Danczuk
MP
Member of Parliament
for Rochdale
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded by Paul Rowen
Majority 12,442 (27.4%)
Personal details
Born Simon Christopher Danczuk
(1966-10-24) 24 October 1966 (age 49)
Rochdale, Lancashire, England
Political party Labour Partyuntil December 2015 (suspended)
Spouse(s) Sonia Milewski (m. 1996; div. 2010)
Karen Burke (m. 2012; separated 2015)
Children 4
Alma mater Lancaster University
Religion Roman Catholicism[1]
Website www.simondanczuk.com

Simon Christopher Danczuk[2] (/ˈdæntʃək/; born 24 October 1966) is a British politician who has been Member of Parliament (MP) for Rochdale since 2010. He has been a critic of Jeremy Corbyn's leadership of the Labour Party. Danczuk co-wrote a book about former Rochdale MP Cyril Smith's abuse of children, and has campaigned about historical allegations of child sex abuse. In December 2015 he was suspended from the Labour Party following allegations of sending sexually explicit text messages to a 17-year-old girl.[3]

Early life and career[edit]

Danczuk grew up in Hapton, Lancashire. He started working life at the age of sixteen in a factory making gas fires, before moving to the chemical company ICI.[4] Whilst working, he studied at night school and gained qualifications he had missed out at secondary school. He then gained a place as a mature student at Lancaster University. He studied economics, sociology and politics, and was a member of Cartmel College.[5]

Danczuk was co-founder with Ruth Turner of Urban Visions Limited, which traded as Vision Twentyone, a research, public affairs and communications consultancy.[6] He has also held research positions at The Big Issue in the North, Opinion Research Corporation, Bolton Bury TEC and worked for academics at Lancaster University. He has written widely on topics such as democracy, homelessness, regeneration, drugs, housing and employment.[7]

Danczuk founded the Necessary Group, a campaign group of businessmen and politicians, which campaigned prior to the expected referenda for an elected Regional Assembly for the North West of England.[8]

Danczuk continued to be a director and majority shareholder in Urban Visions Limited after he became an MP, but the company went into liquidation in June 2011.[6][9]

Early political career[edit]

Danczuk has been involved in the Labour movement since joining the Labour Party through the GMB trade union in the late 1980s. At the age of 27, he was elected as a councillor to Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, serving for eight years with portfolios including economic development and then education.[10]

Prior to his selection for Labour in Rochdale he was campaign manager for Janet Anderson, who was defending her seat in the Rossendale and Darwen constituency,[11] at the 2005 General Election – helping retain the seat for Labour with a reduced majority of 3,500. The next year, Danczuk was a campaign strategist for Labour Party during the 2006 Local Elections and sat on North West Labour's Regional Board (the Party's governing body for the region) for 13 years. He was Constituency Secretary for Rossendale and Darwen Labour Party from 1991 to 1994, when Anderson took the seat for Labour for the first time in 1992, from David Trippier.

Danczuk was selected in early 2007 to be Rochdale Labour Party's Prospective Parliamentary Candidate.[10]

In August 2006, Tribune magazine said that Danczuk's company Vision 21 had sent questionnaires to Labour members in Rochdale on behalf of the regional party.[12] Danczuk reported that he received death threats during the selection process.[11] The postal ballot got a 78% turnout and Danczuk received almost twice as many votes as the second-placed candidate.[10]

Seven members of Rochdale Labour Party who were accused of bringing the Labour party into disrepute by criticising his behaviour were expelled, or resigned, after a disciplinary hearing in September 2009.[13]

Member of Parliament[edit]

In the 2010 election, Danczuk won 16,699 votes, unseating incumbent Liberal Democrat Paul Rowen, who received 15,810 as Conservative Mudasir Dean polled 8,305, despite the incident leading to Prime Minister Gordon Brown's "bigoted woman" remark having occurred in Rochdale.[14]

In May 2011, Danczuk made a criminal complaint to Essex Police about Liberal Democrat MP and Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Chris Huhne after it was alleged that Huhne had asked someone to take his penalty points for a speeding offence in 2003.[15] On 3 February 2012, Huhne became the first Cabinet Minister in British political history to be forced from office as a result of criminal proceedings.[16]

In the wake of the 2013 Labour Party Falkirk candidate selection controversy, Danczuk compared some elements of the Labour hard left to the British National Party (BNP) in an opinion piece in The Daily Telegraph.[17]

Westminster paedophilia investigation[edit]

In 2014, Danczuk, with researcher and campaigner Matthew Baker, published Smile for the Camera: The Double Life of Cyril Smith, an expose of child abuse committed by his parliamentary predecessor in Rochdale.[18] Danczuk said that the abuse included spankings and forcing boys to perform sex acts.[19]

In July 2014, Danczuk called for former home secretary Leon Brittan to make public what he knew about a dossier of allegations about paedophiles presented to him by Geoffrey Dickens (1931 – 1995, MP until 1995), which could identify several historic child sex abusers.[20][21] The Home Office stated the dossier had not been retained in their files. Former Director of Public Prosecutions Lord Macdonald said the circumstances in which the dossier had gone missing were alarming, and recommended an inquiry into its fate.[22] Prime Minister David Cameron subsequently asked the Home Office Permanent Secretary to investigate what happened to the missing dossier. Danczuk responded that another internal inquiry was merely trying to limit damage, and that a public inquiry was necessary to retain public confidence.[23]

Also in July 2014 Danczuk wrote to the Director of Public Prosecutions asking for a review of the decision not to investigate certain historical allegations of sexual abuse made against senior Westminster politicians.[24]

Danczuk's investigation significantly contributed to the decision of the government to set up the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, a statutory inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005, which opened on 9 July 2015.

In July 2015, Whitehall files were discovered which were previously thought to have been destroyed. In one of them, dated November 1986, the then head of MI5, Sir Antony Duff, accepted a denial by an MP that he was a child-abuser, but noted that "the risk of political embarrassment to the government is rather greater than the security danger". Danczuk told The Times that the MI5 papers were "explosive", and helped prove that there had been an Establishment cover-up of paedophile activity.[25]

In January 2016, following allegations into sexually explicit texting, Danczuk wrote to the General Secretary of the Labour Party, saying that Ken Livingstone should be expelled from the National Executive Committee of the party due to "voicing such trenchant criticism" of Danczuk's actions, and Livingstone allegedly suggesting Danczuk is a paedophile due to linking Danczuk's actions to his anti-sex abuse campaigns.[26]

Media profile and income[edit]

Following the serialisation of his book in the Daily Mail[27] during 2014 and 2015, Danczuk developed a large media profile with a significant income from writing newspaper columns, initially in The Sun, and latterly weekly in the Mail on Sunday.[28] In August 2014 Danczuk and his wife created Danczuk Media Ltd for their media work.[29][30] He declared earnings of £42,306 from various broadcasters, agencies and newspapers during 2015.[31] Between July 2014 and December 2015, it is alleged that Danczuk received £32,491 from the Daily Mail and General Trust; £12,800 from News Corporation (it is also alleged that he was paid a further £5,000 to speak to The Sun specifically about his split from Cllr Claire Hamilton in December 2015[31]); £1,115 from FameFlyNet – which is described as "one of the most powerful photo news agencies in America and around the world" and has also received payments "for articles [Danczuk] assisted with" from Borne Media Ltd.[32]

Between October 2014 and March 2015 Danczuk was investigated by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards and then censured by the Standards and Privileges Committee for serious breaches of Commons procedures by repeatedly failing to register income of £19,894, primarily from media activities, within the required time in the The Register of Members’ Financial Interests. Danczuk accepted the verdict, and stated "It was down to poor administration in my office and a change of personnel ... This meant I did not make timely registration. I have learnt a lesson in this and I will be more rigorous in the future."[33][34]

Criticism of Jeremy Corbyn[edit]

Prior to the 2015 Labour leadership election, Danczuk indicated that "as soon as the results come out" a coup would take place against Jeremy Corbyn if he was elected. Danczuk also called for the election to be "halted" and described Corbyn's platform as "crazy leftwing policies" which he would not "put up with".[35][36][37]

His comments were criticised in Rochdale.[38] In October, he said that he could challenge Corbyn for the leadership as a 'stalking horse' if it led to the party electing an MP such as Emma Reynolds, Dan Jarvis or Chuka Umunna. Several thousand Internet users signed an online petition calling for Danczuk to have the whip withdrawn as a result. The Manchester Evening News said the BBC quoted Ken Livingstone as saying: "If your local MP is undermining Jeremy Corbyn, opposing the anti-austerity measures we want, people should have a right to say 'I'd like to have an MP who reflects my view'."[39]

Later in October 2015 Danczuk said that if the May 2016 local election results were to be "as dire as we all fear, then yes I would be prepared to stand as a stalking horse against Jeremy Corbyn". Danczuk would prefer an alternative leader from the right of the party, such as Chuka Umunna, Dan Jarvis or Emma Reynolds, to win following his damaging first challenge "to give us some chance of winning the next election".[40]

Danczuk has used his weekly newspaper column in the Mail on Sunday to criticise Corbyn. The Financial Times reported that he was Corbyn's "most outspoken internal critic".[40][41]

2015 Great Britain floods[edit]

During the 2015 floods, Danczuk's Rochdale constituency was one of the worst-affected areas.[42] Danczuk criticised cutbacks at the Environment Agency and argued that existing flood preparation plans had been insufficient, and called for a compensation scheme to be established to help Rochdale's recovery. He sparked controversy when he argued that foreign aid money should be spent in Britain, arguing that "what we need to do is to sort out the problems which are occurring here and not focus so much on developing countries. That has to be our priority."[43] This prompted accusations by critics in the Labour Party that he was "peddling" the UK Independence Party line.[44]

On 28 December 2015, the Manchester Evening News reported that Danczuk's new girlfriend, councillor Claire Hamilton, had ended their relationship twenty-four hours after she had tweeted pictures of the couple enjoying themselves in a Rochdale pub during the devastating floods, which was viewed as being insensitive to the disaster's victims.[45]

Labour Party suspension over sexually explicit text messages[edit]

In December 2015, it was reported that Danczuk had split from his girlfriend Claire Hamilton, a Labour councillor in Leyland.[46] Soon after, The Sun published sexually graphic text messages that Danczuk had exchanged with a 17-year-old female job applicant, which the newspaper reported were the cause of the split. Police investigated the matter (under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, the age of consent is 18 in circumstances where the accused is in a position of trust) and concluded no offence had been committed,[47][48] though there was strong local criticism of Danczuk.[49]

He was subsequently suspended from Labour Party by the General Secretary pending a full investigation by the National Executive Committee.[3] Danczuk immediately apologised unreservedly, stating "I was stupid [and] there's no fool like an old fool", though he also stated the story was "not entirely accurate".[50] Danczuk later said he had an alcohol problem which led to his behaviour of sending sexually explicit text messages, and that younger women were his "achilles heel".[51][52]

Danczuk later asked the former job applicant, now 18-year-old, for a meeting to apologise, suggesting she could receive a fee if she allowed a media agency to take photographs of them together; this request was rejected.[53][54] Danczuk had earlier received a fee of £5,000 from the Sun on Sunday for an interview to discuss the explicit text messages he had sent, and a £1,100 fee from a photo agency.[55]

Rape allegation[edit]

In January 2016, Lancashire Constabulary confirmed that it was investigating an allegation of rape, dated back to 2006, made against a 49-year-old male. Danczuk confirmed that he was the subject of the allegation, which he denied and described as "malicious".[56]

Expenses investigation[edit]

On 1 February 2016 the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (ISPA) announced it had started an investigation into Danczuk's parliamentary expenses over child accommodation claims. This followed a complaint alleging that his two eldest children for whom Danczuk was claiming an accommodation allowance of £2,425 per child did not stay with him in London "routinely", but only occasionally.[57][58] His response was “I maintain that the existing rules (about 'routinely') are poorly worded and not fit for purpose when it comes to modern families like mine”.[57]

Personal life[edit]

Danczuk married Sonia Milewski in 1996. They had two children, a son born in 1997 and a daughter in 2002.[59] They divorced in 2010,[60][61] and subsequently she accused him of emotional and sexual abuse fuelled by alcohol and cannabis.[62]

He married Karen Burke, who was elected to be a councillor for Kingsway, Rochdale metro, in 2012.[63] They have two children.[60][64] The couple separated in June 2015.[65] In July 2015, he said that he had been suffering from depression caused by his campaigning work on child sexual abuse and that this had affected his second marriage.[66][67]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ The London Gazette: no. 59418. p. 8737. 13 May 2010.
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  32. ^ "HP sauce". Private Eye (1409). 8 January 2015. p. 7. ... between July 2014 and December 2015 he pocketed £32,491 from the Mail group alone, and £12,800 from Rupert Murdoch's News Group ...
    Danczuk also registered a payment of £1,115 "for media advice" from FameFlyNet, which describes itself as "one of the largest, most powerful photo news agencies in America and around the world" ...
    Equally intriguing is another payment Danczuk registered from Borne Media "for articles I assisted with". The PR agency set up by staff from Max Clifford Associated after the joining of their boss in 2014 ...
     
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External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Paul Rowen
Member of Parliament
for Rochdale

2010–present
Incumbent