Christina Rees, a senior Labour MP, has had the party whip suspended following allegations of bullying. It is understood that Rees has had her party membership administratively suspended whilst the complaint is investigated.
This is everything you need to know.
Who is Christina Rees?
Rees is a Welsh politician who served as Shadow Secretary of State for Wales in Jeremy Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet, from 2017 to 2020. She had been elected as a Welsh Labour Co-operative Party MP prior to her suspension on 13 October.
She was born in Kenfig Hill in south Wales on 21 February 1954 and attended Cynffig Comprehensive School, where she became head girl. During her time at school, Rees was involved in a number of different sports.
Speaking about her school days, Rees said: “I was very shy when I was a child and was bullied, so my mother sent me to judo classes to strengthen me up. I got a black belt first dan when I was 13 and a fourth dan in 1974.”
She also excelled in sports like tennis, hockey and athletics, all disciplines in which she represented Wales Schools, and was also a member of the Great Britain Youth Team at the Munich Olympics. She has represented Wales in squash more than 100 times.
Rees is a qualified barrister who began her politician career when she stood as the Labour candidate for Arfon in the Welsh Assembly elections in 2011. It was in 2015 that she was first elected as an MP for Neath, following the UK general election.
She was appointed Shadow Minister, Department of Justice for Courts and Legal Aid in January 2016, however stepped down from the position as part of the mass resignations of Shadow ministers after the EU referendum. She later returned to the post in October 2016 after she and 32 other Labour MPs returned to the front bench.
Rees was married to fellow Welsh politician Ron Davies, who was the former Secretary of State for Wales. The pair had one daughter together, and divorced in 1999.
Why has she been suspended?
Rees has been suspended following allegations of bullying her constituency staff. It is understood that an internal Labour party investigation will be conducted, and that Rees will have her party membership suspended until the case is resolved.
The Guardian reported that the decision came following complaints by staff working for Rees in her south Wales constituency.
Local party members have reportedly stated that a number of Rees’ staff have made detailed statements, which are said to have been backed up with evidence, to Labour headquarters regarding the claims of bullying. According to the Guardian, one senior constituency figure said that the alleged behaviour had been going on for years.
Has she responded to the allegation?
In a statement, Rees said: “There has been a complaint made against me to the Labour Party, which is under investigation and I am therefore under an administrative suspension until the process is concluded.
“I’m not aware of the details of the complaint but I am fully cooperating with the investigation.”
A Labour Party spokesperson said: “We do not comment on individual complaints.”
Is she now an independent MP?
Following her suspension, Rees will sit in the House of Commons as an independent. She will now be the 14th independent MP sitting in parliament, alongside other MPs who have lost the whip, including former Labour MPs Jeremy Corbyn, Claudia Webbe and Rupa Huq, and former Tory MPs like Conor Burns and Chris Pincher.
The other independent MPs currently in parliament are Nicholas Brown, Neil Coyle, Jonathan Edwards, Tobia Ellwood, Margaret Ferrier, Patrick Grady, Rob Roberts, David Warburton.