Tom Watson, former deputy Labour leader, is one of three people nominated by Jeremy Corbyn to have had their peerages blocked by the House of Lords watchdog, The Independent has reported.
John Bercow, former speaker of the House of Commons, and Karie Murphy, former director of Corbyn’s office, are also understood to have had their nominations refused.
Watson is believed to have been rejected over his support for allegations of a paedophile ring at Westminster made by fantasist Carl Beech, who was later investigated for perverting the course of justice, found to be a paedophile himself, and eventually arrested and charged for his actions. In July 2019, he was found guilty and sentenced to 18 years in prison. Harvey Proctor, former Conservative MP, was one of the individuals accused by Beech, and has led a campaign to deny Mr Watson a peerage.
Some positive news: Former deputy leader of the Labour Party Tom Watson has been rejected for a peerage in the House of Lords— Ben (@BenJolly9) May 31, 2020
Bercow’s nomination is said to have been rejected because the commission felt Corbyn was not entitled to nominate him, as the former Conservative MP is “not Labour”.
His nomination would’ve been expected to come from the government, which has traditionally nominated retiring speakers to the upper house - Boris Johnson didn’t however, and it may be significant Conservatives have accused the former speaker of compromising his position’s impartiality by campaigning against Brexit.
The reasons for rejecting Murphy’s nomination aren’t known, although a source described her case as a “slam dunk”, and anti-racist groups including Hope Not Hate had lobbied against her elevation to the peerage while the Equality and Human Rights Commission is still conducting an investigation into antisemitism in Labour.
A spokesperson for the House of Lords Appointments Commission refused to comment on the individual cases, but explained its role is “to advise the prime minister if it has any concerns about the propriety of a nominee”.
The commission states peerage nominees “should be in good standing in the community in general and with the public regulatory authorities in particular, and the past conduct of the nominee would not reasonably be regarded as bringing the House of Lords into disrepute”.
A spokesperson for the Labour Party refused to comment, but party sources appear keen to distance incumbent leader Keir Starmer from the nominations, even though they were made on behalf of the party.
The Sunday Times alleges Corbyn was informed about the commission’s decisions and offered the chance to make substitute nominations - he’s reported to have initially agreed to nominate other candidates, but then changed his mind.