MP ‘deeply ashamed’ over texts to female employee

Image caption Jennifer Barnes said messages from the MP left her “in tears”

An MP accused of sending inappropriate text messages to a female employee says he is “deeply ashamed” of his actions.

Jennifer Barnes, 20, who worked for Sheffield Hallam MP Jared O’Mara, claims she received a number of messages from him.

She said the texts, proclaiming his love for her, had left her “in tears”.

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Mr O’Mara, who has announced plans to resign from his seat, apologised and said he had had “a complete mental breakdown”.

Ms Barnes started working for Mr O’Mara in June and said the “uncomfortable” messages began soon after.

She said she received a 17-paragraph message from the MP on WhatsApp two weeks ago, prompting her to quit.

“I am in tears and I am just like ‘this is it, I can’t go back now’,” she said.

“It almost makes me kind of shiver being spoken to by someone who is 17 years older than me, he is my boss, he’s an MP.”

In a statement Mr O’Mara said: “I am so sorry for the hurt and distress I have caused.

“I had a complete mental breakdown and I was not in my right mind when I sent those messages and I am deeply ashamed and scared that I did that.”

Mr O’Mara was elected as the Labour MP for the constituency in the 2017 general election, ousting former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

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He now sits as an independent MP, having quit Labour in 2018 after he was suspended over alleged misogynistic and homophobic comments posted online.

He said his mental health had worsened since he left the Labour party.

“I cannot apologise enough to Jennifer and everyone else I have hurt. I am so sorry,” he added.

Image copyright House of Commons
Image caption Jared O’Mara has been an independent MP since resigning from Labour in 2018

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