Today I voted against the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (CHIS) Bill at Third Reading. As this is contrary to the frontbench position of the Labour Party, I have written to both Keir Starmer and Andy McDonald, Shadow Secretary of State for Employment Rights, to offer my resignation as Andy’s Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS).

At Second Reading I abstained on the CHIS Bill in the hope that it could be amended in committee and, if not, that the party’s position would move to being opposed to the Bill. In the interests of working constructively, I voted to amend the Bill at the committee stage in order to place important safeguards into the legislation and strengthen it somewhat. However, after much consideration I decided that these amendments were not enough to correct this Bill, even if they had passed. As a result, I personally felt that I had no option but to vote against the CHIS Bill at Third Reading.

I have not taken this decision lightly, and over the last few weeks I have listened carefully to the arguments made by the Labour frontbench, trade unions, and human rights campaigners. It is clear that, amongst legal experts, there is a disagreement over whether the Bill in its current state provides the necessary legal protections to prevent against human rights violations and dangerous challenges to political activism.

However, I believe that with legislation that could potentially allow torture, rape, and murder and the subversion of democratic campaigning, there can be no room for uncertainty and safeguards must be absolute.

I would also like to express my absolute respect for Andy McDonald. Andy is doing vital work as the Shadow Secretary of State for Employment Rights and this Ministry would be a crucial part of any future Labour Government. It is with deep regret that I cannot continue to be part of Andy’s team, but I know that he and Imran Hussein will keep up their excellent work and I look forward to seeing what they achieve in the coming months and years.

Finally, I want to be clear that Keir has my full and continued support as Leader of the Labour Party. This decision was deeply personal and moral, and one that I consider as a matter of conscience. All my energy will be going into campaigning for a Labour Government, and to do everything I can to represent the City of Durham.

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