The Swansea East MP Carolyn Harris – who in April was Penarth Labour MP Stephen Doughty’s choice as Welsh Deputy Party Leader – has been described as a “homophobic bully” in court.
Doughty who is Labour MP for Cardiff South and Penarth – and who says he is gay – had publicly endorsed the candidature of Carolyn Harris for the Deputy Leadership in April this year.
Yesterday in Cardiff Crown Court, Carolyn Harris was described as a “homophobic bully” by a former office colleague Jenny Lee Clarke (42) whom Harris had alleged was gay.
Ms Clarke is being tried for alleged forgery and fraud said to have been committed when she worked for Carolyn Harris as office manager and senior aide to Mrs Harris. She is charged with fraudulently submitting a form increasing her own annual salary from £37,000 to £39,000 a year. Ms Clarke has already told the court she was instructed to do this by Carolyn Harris .
Ms Clarke told the court that during the years she worked with her Carolyn Harris was “a homophobic bully all the time and she assaulted me at my work station”. Ms Clarke claimed that Mrs Harris “never liked paperwork” and said she had “left me to do everything.” Ms Clarke denies the charges and told the court she had not attempted to hide the form “because I knew it would go through IPSA and compliance and everything else.”
Ms Clarke says she did not “sign” the form but had just written Carolyn Harris’s name on it – as she did with many other letters and forms. She denied ever having attempted to write Carolyn Harris’s signature. As she told the court “The way that Carolyn dealt with me is still hard to deal with”, Ms Clarke wept in the witness-box.
A Swansea Labour councillor , Paulette Smith, gave dramatic evidence on the alleged physical attack by Carolyn Harris on Jenny Lee Clarke . She told the court that she and Jenny Lee Clarke were working on their respective computers when “All of a sudden there was a blood-curdling scream from Jen.I turned round and I could see Carolyn Harris with her hands clawed on Jen’s head. When she did eventually release her hands, there were little tufts of Jen’s hair in them. Jen was in agony.” Paulette Smith said she went with Ms Clarke to report the incident to South Wales Police in 2016. No action was taken.
The jury was told by Cllr Smith that Carolyn Harris “goaded” Ms Clarke. Cllr Smith said “She [ Carolyn Harris] kept going on and on …In the end I said ‘what’s the matter Jen?’. Jen said, ‘I’m gay’. I said, ‘Oh good God Jen – I thought you were going to tell me you had cancer or something’. It was so stupid the way she was goading and goading and goading her. Jen was so embarrassed.”
The court has already heard allegations that Carolyn Harris referred to Ms Clarke’s boots as “dyke boots” – an assertion which the Labour MP’s told the jury – if uttered – would have been “office banter”. Mrs Harris – who the court heard had a “sloppy” approach to management – has given evidence that she made a number of checks before offering pay rises to her staff.
Jenny Lee Clarke denies the charges of forgery and fraud and the case continues.