The University of Manchester’s society Manchester Labour Students (MLS) have cancelled an upcoming event due to the abusive history of a speaker.
Labour Councillor Richard Leese CBE was invited by MLS to discuss his role in the council and the work Labour do in local government. Councillor Leese has been involved with local government for the Labour party for over 33 years. In 2006 he received a Knighthood for his long-standing work towards the growth and regeneration of the city of Manchester.
Four years later, in April 2010, Leese was detained overnight by Greater Manchester Police. The detention was a result of an incident with Leese’s step-daughter. At the time his step-daughter was 16 years old. She reportedly made a complaint to the police that resulted in the Councillor’s detention.
Greater Manchester Police attended the property and spoke to “a girl who had sustained a minor injury to her ear.”After 17 hours in police custody, Councillor Leese was released after admitting guilt to his crime and receiving a police caution. No further police action was taken.
At the time, Richard Leese was a councillor for the Labour party. In response to the incident, he wrote to the chief executive of Manchester City Council, Sir Howard Bernstein, and asked for a “period of time out of his duties as leader of the council to resolve family issues.”
The council respected this request. The Labour party released a statement saying ‘This is a private matter which the family now consider closed.”
In May of this year, Leese was appointed to the newly created role of Deputy Mayor for Business and Economy by Greater Manchester’s Mayor Andy Burnham. Mayor Burnham endorsed Councillor Leese and his newly appointed colleague Beverly Hughes, stating, “Sir Richard Leese and Beverley Hughes bring a wealth of experience, expertise and passion to their respective roles. I look forward to working with them to make Greater Manchester the best place to live, work, grow up and get on in life.”
The Labour party as a whole might consider the incident to be firmly in the past, however Manchester Labour Students disagree. When a member of MLS brought the 2010 incident to attention of the society, the committee “unanimously decided … it wouldn’t be appropriate to host a speaker whose actions have been in direct conflict with our party’s values.”
MLS subsequently released a public statement stating: “To platform someone who has previously abused women and children would go against not only our personal moral beliefs but the beliefs of our party as a whole.”
Mayor Burnham and Councillor Leese were both contacted for comment by The Mancunion but did not respond.