A Labour frontbencher who was under pressure to step down for his comments about JK Rowling’s domestic abuse revelation has resigned.
Lloyd Russell-Moyle relinquished his role as a shadow environment minister, blaming a “campaign by the right-wing media” that had left his position “untenable”.
He faced calls to make the move weeks ago, when he was forced to apologise for claiming the Harry Potter author was “using her own sexual assault as justification” to raise concerns over rights for people who are transgender.
“I want to apologise unreservedly about the comments,” he said after they were published in a left-wing magazine and then picked up by a national newspaper.
“JK Rowling’s first disclosures of domestic abuse and sexual assault in her recent article on trans issues were heartfelt and must have been hard to say.
“Whilst I may disagree with some of her analysis on trans rights, it was wrong of me to suggest that she used her own dreadful experience in anything other than good faith.”
At the time, no further action was taken.
But now Mr Russell-Moyle said the backlash since has “unleashed a torrent of online hate and daily calls of harassment to my office”.
He added: “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.”
A Labour spokesman said leader Sir Keir Starmer “thanked Lloyd for his hard work on the front bench and wished him well in his plans for the coming months to focus on housing and youth services”.
This week Mr Russell-Moyle has also been criticised by the Jewish Labour Movement for having attracted “constant controversy in relation to antisemitism”.
The group listed numerous criticisms including “his very public defence” of Chris Williamson, the former MP suspended from Labour for claiming the party was “too apologetic” on antisemitism.
Mr Russell-Moyle previously made history by being the second MP to ever announce he has HIV, but the first to make the revelation while speaking in the Commons.
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