Former parliamentary aide Cohen wins dismissal claim against MP

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Former parliamentary aide Cohen wins dismissal claim against MP

Elaina Cohen, 62, a former adviser to Khalid Mahmood, Labour MP for Perry Barr, wins unfair dismissal claim, although tribunal dismisses claim she was victim of religious discrimination

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Elaina Cohen (right) has claimed Labour MP Khalid Mahmood, (left), sacked her after she blew the whistle about the colleague, who she suspected was a “criminal abuser” of women.
Elaina Cohen (right) has claimed Labour MP Khalid Mahmood, (left), sacked her after she blew the whistle about the colleague, who she suspected was a “criminal abuser” of women.

A parliamentary aide who accused a Labour MP of bullying her has won her claim against him for unfair dismissal.

Elaina Cohen, 62, a former adviser and lover of Khalid Mahmood, the MP for Perry Barr, claimed at Central London employment tribunal that he was an attempted bigamist who misused his parliamentary expenses for political gain.

A tribunal ruled on Wednesday that Cohen had been unfairly dismissed and that she was “marginalised and isolated” after making a protected disclosure.

But four other claims, including the suggestion Cohen was the victim of racial or religious discrimination or harassment due to her Jewish background, were dismissed.

Cohen claimed Mahmood was known as “Catfish Khalid” because he “stalked” women online.

She claimed he had fired her because she raised concerns about his protection of Saraya Hussain, whom Cohen described as a “criminal abuser” who had exploited women at the domestic abuse charity where she worked.

In her claim Cohen accused Hussain of posting antisemitic and anti-Zionist tropes on her Facebook account.

But the tribunal said this claim was not proven.

She also suggested Mahmood had received criticism in the Muslim community over her relationship with Cohen, because she was Jewish, but this was not upheld.

Cohen also accused Labour leader Keir Starmer of ignoring her complaints against Mahmood when she raised them with him.

Cohen will be awarded damages at a hearing next month that will be covered by taxpayer-funded indemnity insurance.

She said: “This is Keir Starmer’s [Chris] Pincher moment, I hope he feels he can act differently to Boris Johnson. I hope he will act differently now he knows the truth and act. What a battle it’s been. All I wanted to do is make the voices of these women heard and it cost me my job.”
Cohen was sacked last year by Mahmood, who claimed that she “humiliated” him by calling him a “first-class idiot” in emails to Starmer.

Mahmood said that he was pleased that the judge had found that the main reason Cohen was dismissed was for “her conduct” and that she had an “abusive style of communication”.

The MP added that he was also pleased that claims that Cohen was the victim of racial or religious discrimination or harassment were dismissed.

He previously settled another claim from Cohen five years ago.

The tribunal noted:”In the early days of the Claimant and Respondent working together they were in a romantic relationship.

“This came to an end. We have received evidence that this was either in 2005 or 2008. It may not in reality have been either of these dates. It does not matter for the purposes of this decision, suffice it to say that it came to an end before the events material to this claim.

“The two carried on working together after the end of the romantic relationship.”

Labour have been contacted for comment.

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