Lloyd Russell-Moyle: Labour frontbencher steps down over ‘torrent of online hate’ after JK Rowling row

Labour frontbencher Lloyd Russell-Moyle has stepped down from the shadow cabinet after saying he had been the victim of a “torrent of online hate”.

In a statement posted on Twitter, the MP for Brighton Kempton and Peacehaven said his position had become untenable “owing to a campaign by the right-wing media”.

Mr Russell-Moyle was recently forced to apologise after accusing author JK Rowling of using her experience of sexual assault as “justification” for discriminating against trans people.

He announced on Thursday that he had spoken to party leader Sir Keir Starmer and would no longer serve as a shadow environment minister.

The MP was sharply criticised for suggesting Rowling ‘used her own sexual assault as justification’ for discriminating against trans people (Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP)

He wrote: “It is with regret that I leave the shadow ministry, but owing to a campaign by the right-wing media my position has become untenable.

“This has unleashed a torrent of online hate and daily calls of harassment to my office, which has exposed those who work for me to abuse that would not be acceptable in any workplace.

“It is my job to get political flack, but it is not the job of caseworkers, researchers and assistants to be attacked.

“It has also led to hounding and stress, from which I need a few weeks to support my team and myself to collectively recover.”

The minister made a public apology to the Harry Potter author last month after he wrote a piece in the Tribune saying he felt she had used her past experience to undermine efforts to secure rights for trans people.

Rowling has become a target of online activists following a string of social media posts in which she voiced her concerns about transgender rights and single sex spaces.

In an open letter published on June 10, she wrote that she was partly motivated to speak out about female trauma because of her own suffering of abuse and sexual assault.

Following a backlash over his article, Mr Russell-Moyle tweeted: “It was was wrong of me to suggest that she used her own dreadful experience in anything other than good faith”.

Sir Keir said at the time it was “absolutely right” that the MP should apologise for the comments, describing the issue of trans rights as a “political football”.

Rowling later accepted his apology, but added: “When so-called leftists like @lloyd_rm demand that we give up our hard won sex-based rights, they align themselves squarely with men’s rights activists.

“To both groups, female trauma is white noise, an irrelevance, or else exaggerated or invented.”

In his lengthy resignation statement, Mr Russell-Moyle added: “I am here to represent all my constituents and I am grateful to all those who voted for me, and to the people who believe Labour can make our country a fair, better happier place for all of us.”

A Labour spokesperson responded to the news, saying: “Lloyd spoke to Keir Starmer this afternoon and informed (him) of his decision to step back from front bench duties.

“Keir thanked Lloyd for his hard work on the frontbench and wished him well in his plans for the coming months to focus on housing and youth services.”

Fellow Labour ministers were quick to offer their support to the Brighton MP.

Dawn Butler replied on Twitter: “The harassment and abuse needs to stop. Sorry to hear this Lloyd.”

Rachel Maskell commented: “No MP or member of their staff should be in receipt of harassment. I know how hard Lloyd and his team work on behalf of his constituents, and they are lucky to have such a strong advocate. Solidarity.”

And Nadia Whittome added: “I’m really sorry to hear this Lloyd. I hope to see you championing the issues you campaign so passionately about on the front bench again soon.”

Sir Keir has yet to reveal who will replace Mr Russell-Moyle on the shadow cabinet.


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