Norfolk councillor tells tribunal of upset at MP’s inaccurate claim she was partner of Clive Lewis
PUBLISHED: 10:49 09 February 2017 | UPDATED: 13:05 09 February 2017
A Norfolk councillor has described her upset after an MP wrongly told a BBC journalist she was the partner of Norwich South MP Clive Lewis.
The information came to light in a tribunal brought by BBC Look East journalist Sally Chidzoy against the corporation for alleged harassment, sexual discrimination and victimisation.
The BBC is defending the tribunal which is ongoing at Cambridge Magistrates Court.
An email was sent from the account of North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb to the BBC’s political editor for east England Deborah McGurran complaining about a broadcast in June 2014 on mental health.
The report featured an interview with mental health nurse and union rep Emma Corlett, who is a Norfolk County councillor for Labour.
Mr Lamb raised “serious concerns” in the email that Labour had got their facts about mental health spending wrong and that Ms Corlett was the “partner” of Labour MP Mr Lewis.
He wrote: “I’m concerned about the role of Clive Lewis and the fact that it is his partner that seems to be interviewed and who deliberately – and cynically in my view – politicises it. I appreciate she has a position in her own right”
Mr Lewis, who quit the shadow cabinet yesterday over the Brexit bill, is not Ms Corlett’s partner and Ms Corlett said the accusation had deeply upset her.
Ms Corlett made her statement in evidence to support Miss Chidzoy’s claim that she was harassed after raising concerns about the editorial independence of the BBC.
Ms Corlett said she received a print out of the email from Mr Lamb to Deborah McGurran in the post.
“I was completely shocked by the content, tone and nature of the email as it contained inaccurate information about me and unfounded and what I regarded malicious allegations,” she said in a witness statement to the tribunal.
“He is not my partner. I live with my partner of 18 years.
“I was shocked and upset that a Minister of State was concerning himself with my private life, and circulating to local journalists totally inaccurate information about me.
“I found his statement offensive and sexist, as even if Clive Lewis was my partner, why would I not be able as an autonomous female trade unionist be capable of speaking on behalf of Unison members?
She added: “The email had a profound impact on my well-being and mental health.
“It also had an impact on me at work. It made me feel increasingly paranoid about what information might be being circulated about me.”
•The tribunal continues