The leader of Lambeth Council has “vehemently denied” allegations of sexual harassment and unwanted touching, according to a report in The Guardian on May 16.  

The story revealed that leader Cllr Jack Hopkins is being investigated by Labour for the allegations, which it says were made to the party by a woman in March this year.

The news came a week after Cllr Hopkins announced he was stepping down as leader.  

In a move that was a shock to many, Lambeth Council released a statement on May 10 in which the councillor said he believed it was time to “hand over the reins to a new leader” as the “roadmap out of the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions progresses”. 

According to the Guardian: “Lambeth Council has rejected any link between the allegation and the announcement last week that Jack Hopkins was stepping aside after two years in the role.  

“It is understood that Hopkins vehemently denies the harassment claims. 

“In a message to fellow members of the Lambeth Labour group, Hopkins said he was quitting now ‘in order to give my successor the chance to deliver a unified group and platform in the run-up to the next election in 2022 so that we can continue to deliver for the people of Lambeth’.” 

The Guardian reported that it was told that a woman made a complaint to Labour in March about sexual harassment by Cllr Hopkins. 

“Hopkins self-referred himself to the party’s disciplinary system after the woman formally challenged him about his behaviour,” according to the newspaper.  

The Guardian also said it understood that the woman has been “left disappointed” by Labour’s process and “that it came as a shock that, because Hopkins referred himself, her first contact with the process was when she was contacted by the party to say it had been told that she had potentially been a victim of harassment”.

The article goes on to say that the woman is concerned that Cllr Hopkin’s resignation “could be a way to minimise the impact of an investigation”. 

A spokesperson for Lambeth Council referred the local democracy service to the statement made on May 10. 

The Labour Party has been contacted for comment.

A spokesperson told the Guardian: “The Labour Party has a zero-tolerance approach to sexual harassment and we take all complaints extremely seriously.” 

Cllr Hopkins was first elected as a councillor in Oval Ward in 2010 and has served in the cabinet since 2012, holding various roles responsible for community safety and neighbourhoods, economic development, regeneration, planning and employment and skills.     

He was leader for just over two years when he announced he was stepping down.