Press Releases

Statement following the news that Ministers have decided to grant legal aid to the family of Cherry Groce

Friday, April 11th, 2014

Chuka Umunna MP said: 

“I had argued from the start that the family of Cherry Groce should be given every assistance to examine the circumstances that led to their mother’s death at the inquest.

“There was a clear public interest in legal aid being granted in this case. It would have been totally unacceptable for the inquest to proceed with the different police parties all being represented at the taxpayers expense but not the victims in this case, Cherry Groce and her family.

“So I very much welcome the decision to grant legal aid which the Lord Chancellor has made – I am grateful to him for making the right call in this case.  All we were asking for was for there to be an equality of legal representation between the police and the family before the inquest. That wish has now been granted.

“I’d like to thank all those who have backed the family’s campaign but the battle for justice is not over. I would ask all those who’ve supported the campaign to keep a close eye on the inquest and the Coroner’s findings when they come.”

 

 

Statement from Chuka Umunna MP on the news that the legal aid agency has referred the decision on whether to grant legal aid to the family of Cherry Groce to the Lord Chancellor:

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

“I have always argued that, given the injustice visited upon Cherry Groce and her children – my constituents – and the huge public interest in this case, the decision whether to reverse the denial of legal aid should be made by the Lord Chancellor himself.  I am pleased the matter has now been passed to the Lord Chancellor, Chris Grayling, to determine personally.

“The family of Cherry Groce has suffered for three generations from the injustice that was Cherry’s shooting by the Metropolitan Police in 1985. The initial decision to deny the legal aid assistance this family needs was both perverse and wrong – the family has suffered enough and the Lord Chancellor should reverse this decision without delay and give them the legal support that the other represented parties are being afforded by the taxpayer.  The initial determination that it is not in the public interest to award legal aid in these circumstances is perverse: there is a clear public interest here which is why over 130,000 people have signed the petition in support of the campaign.”

Notes to editors:

  • The Legal Aid Agency has decided that it is appropriate to refer this matter to the Lord Chancellor for consideration of funding through the Lord Chancellor’s residual discretion under Section 6(8)(b) Access to Justice Act 1999.
  • Chuka Umunna MP accompanied members of the family of Cherry Groce to No.10 Downing Street today (02/04/2014) to hand in a petition to the Lord Chancellor calling on him to grant legal aid to the family ahead of the inquest into Cherry’s death in 1985.
  • The petition has over 130,000 signatures and can still be signed at www.change.org/justice4cherry

Umunna Demands Proper Justice for Cherry Groce

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

Chuka Umunna has called on the Metropolitan Police Commissioner to give a full, public and meaningful apology for the way in which the Police failed both Cherry Groce and her family at the time of her shooting by the Metropolitan Police in 1985 and in the decades since.

Mr Umunna has also demanded that the Lord Chancellor takes action to ensure proper legal aid support is given to the family during Ms Groce’s inquest. Over 100,000 people have signed a petition backing this demand in the last seven days.

The shooting of Ms Groce by the Metropolitan Police in 1985 left her paralysed from the waist down and was ultimately a significant contributory factor in her premature death in 2011. It was Cherry Groce’s shooting by the Metropolitan Police that precipitated the 1985 Brixton Riots.

Last Friday, following demands for a public apology, the Metropolitan Police said they were ‘happy for it to be known publicly’ that the family had been offered an apology on behalf of the Metropolitan Police Service.

Mr Umunna has said that this is “inadequate” and has demanded that the Metropolitan Police Commissioner himself give a “full and proper apology”.

The family have not been granted the legal aid requested for representation at the upcoming Coroner’s Inquest into Cherry Gross’ death.

Solicitors for the family have put the Legal Aid Agency on notice of their intention to commence judicial review proceedings to challenge their continuing refusal to provide funding for the representation of Ms Groce’s family at the forthcoming inquest.

Mr Umunna has written to the Lord Chancellor asking him to “look again at this decision, and take action so that the family have the full legal aid support they require.”

Commenting on the statement issued by the Metropolitan Police on Friday 21 March 2014, Chuka Umunna MP said: 

“The apology that has been given so far is inadequate. A full and public apology, properly done, should be from the Met Commissioner himself and be displayed and promoted by the Metropolitan Police, including on their website. This will have to be a meaningful apology that acknowledges the Police have failed both Cherry and her family at the time of her shooting and over the many long years following.

“Especially given the high level of scrutiny the Met Police is currently receiving concerning its treatment of the black community, I think it is in the interests not only of my constituents but of the police for the Commissioner to give a full and proper apology as part of rebuilding trust in the Police.”

On the need for the family of Cherry Groce to receive legal aid, Mr Umunna said:

“The family should have every assistance to examine the circumstances that led to their mother’s death. There is a clear public interest in this case. I have asked that the Lord Chancellor looks again at this decision, and that he takes action so that the family have the full legal aid support they require.

“As I said when writing to the Lord Chancellor, to deny the family legal aid seems to me a perverse decision and I disagree strongly with the decision to withhold support from them.

“The petition demanding that the family receive the legal aid they need has gained over 100,000 signatures in less than a week, and I urge as many people as possible to show their support for the Groce family by signing it.”

On the relations between the Metropolitan Police and the black community, Mr Umunna said:

“For people like my constituents’ family, the family of Cherry Groce, the pain of what the Police did is something they must live with every day. For the black community in London, the scars of distrust have not fully healed and are only exacerbated by issues such as the disproportionate use of stop and search and the devastating impact of deaths in custody.

“Whilst it is true that we have come a long way from the dark days of the 1980s, there is still much more to do. Issues from decades past must be dealt with, wrongs atoned for, and the issues of today must be dealt with.”

Please sign the petition at www.change.org/Justice4Cherry 

Statement from Chuka Umunna MP following the agreement of the Metropolitan Police to give a public apology to Cherry Groce and her family

Friday, March 21st, 2014

Statement from Chuka Umunna MP following the agreement of the Metropolitan Police to give a public apology to Cherry Groce and her family:

“Cherry Groce suffered for 26 years as a result of the horrific injuries sustained after her shooting by a Metropolitan Police officer – a shooting which ultimately led to her premature death two years ago. This of course had a severe impact on her children, my constituents – some of whom were very young when the shooting happened.

“The Groce family had received a private apology last year but were entitled to expect a full, formal, public apology from the Police at the outset. Disgracefully, the Metropolitan Police have not indicated a willingness to give a proper public apology until this week, almost three decades late.  It is welcome that they have at last indicated that they will give a full public apology.

“A lot of progress has been made in terms of police community relations since the 1980s. However, cases such as this and ongoing injustices surrounding issues such as stop and search and deaths in police custody, highlight there is still a long way to go before we reach the levels of trust in the Police that we all want to see.

ENDS 

- A BBC News report from the time of Ms Groce’s death can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-13520669

Agenda 2030: Earning and growing our way to a higher standard of living – Speech by Chuka Umunna

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

Chuka Umunna MP, in a speech to the EEF’s Annual Manufacturing Dinner, said:

 

*CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY*

Thank you for that introduction, and thank you to the EEF for inviting me to speak to you tonight. It is an honour for me to be following such distinguished speakers from industry and politics you’ve heard from today.

I’d like to take this opportunity to put on record my particular thanks to Terry and his team – for the job they do for the EEF, championing your interests in Westminster and advancing the debate in the country.

The title of today’s conference is ‘Make it Britain’. Tonight – if you will allow me – I want to flip it around and ask a related, perhaps more fundamental question: how – in a fast changing world – can Britain make it?

Because the world is changing faster than we can comprehend. Over the last 12 months I have seen this with my own eyes, on trade visits to West Africa and China.

There are huge opportunities in a world where the global middle class is expected to treble to five billion people in the next two decades. But we currently export more to the Czech Republic – a country a tenth of the size and with less than a fifteenth of the population – than we do to fast growing Nigeria.

I mentioned China, and we like to think of ourselves as better innovators than the Chinese. But China is growing science spending by 36 per cent a year as it shifts from being an IP copier to an IP creator.

So for Britain this changing world holds out huge promise, as well as the risk. How can we realise the promise? How can we earn and grow our way to a higher standard of living for all? How can Britain make it?

Britain’s success depends on your success.

This is our national challenge. But it is a challenge I know we can meet. Look at our history. The character of our people. The companies in this room.

As I look around I just think of the amazing things I have seen in so many of your firms – world-class engineering and world-leading manufacturing.

British-based businesses creating good jobs, investing, innovating and exporting.

For Britain to succeed, we need you to succeed. And we need there to be more of you.

Indeed, manufacturing must have a much more central role in our national story. Strengthening our industrial base is vital because manufacturing plays a critical role in the R&D infrastructure of a modern economy; because it’s an anchor for so many high value jobs. And because, as you’ve discussed today, it can help re-shore jobs as well.

So Ed Miliband and I are clear: our job is to help you. And let no one doubt our resolve in doing so.

I say this not just to you – our manufacturers and engineers – but to firms in other leading sectors too – like the creative industries, the life sciences, business and professional services.

 

Agenda 2030: Labour’s plan for earning and growing our way to a higher standard of living

But if we are going to help you succeed, we need to see the world through your eyes. Your investment horizons stretch well into the next decade. Ours should too.

So today I want to talk about Labour’s long-term plan to earn and grow our way to a higher standard of living for all. Agenda 2030, based on a clear sense of direction.

We, the Labour Party, are clear about our goal: a high-productivity, high-skilled, innovation-led economy. A balanced, resilient economy succeeding in the world, creating good jobs and opportunities, offering people a ladder up and the chance to make the most of their potential.

That is our central mission, what we want to be known for, and what we want people to vote for above all else. It is the only way that we will tackle the cost-of-living crisis and make sure that future growth benefits all working people, and not just a few at the top.

Yes, it’s bold and ambitious but it’s the only way we can secure the future the British people deserve – a successful economy underpinning a strong society.

 

Economic responsibility 

Now, there are those who will tell you – as the Chancellor did in Birmingham earlier this year, as Tea Party Republicans have argued in the States – that the central economic challenge facing the nation is not the size of our economy, but the size of our government.

Of course, nobody wants big government for the sake of it and the state must be affordable. We must bring the public finances back into balance following the huge costs of the global crash that irresponsible behaviour in the banking sector created.

That will involve tough decisions. If elected in 428 days, we will have to govern with less money. We know that. We will make cuts and Ed Balls has been explicit: there’ll be no extra borrowing to fund day to day expenditure in 2015/16.

And, because reducing the deficit and our debts is not an option but a necessity, we have pledged to balance the books, deliver a surplus on the current budget and get national debt falling as soon as possible in the next Parliament. No other opposition in modern times has made such a commitment this far out from a General Election.

Now, I know there are some who disagree with our opposition to the reduction in the top rate of tax. But is this really the time to be reducing the taxes of less than 1 per cent of earners when the public finances are so tight?

So rest assured. We understand the challenge in respect of the public finances. And we are up to it.

But reducing the deficit is neither the only economic challenge we face, nor – in the longer term – the most important. Permanent austerity is not what our economy needs in order to grow. To some it may be an ideological choice, but it is not an economic policy.

 

The structural challenges for our economy
Because for all the progress made by the Labour Government and the stronger supply side conditions we achieved, the 2008/09 crash exposed long standing structural problems in our economy going back decades.

An economy unbalanced by sector and region. Short-termism in our corporate culture leading to low levels of business investment and low productivity. A dysfunctional finance system. A stubborn and increasing trade deficit. Above all, an economy failing to meet the material needs of too many families.

Growth has returned and it is welcome. It’s a credit to your hard work and that of your employees. It’s a credit to the investments you’ve made, the risks you’ve taken, the jobs you’ve created.

Despite that, after three wasted years, there is still much – much – more to do. Because we are not seeing the balanced and sustainable growth we were promised. Prices are still rising faster than wages. Meaning individuals are, on average, £1,600 a year worse off.

We are not seeing a recovery which benefits all working people and tackles the cost-of-living crisis. In fact, it looks a lot like the kind of growth we swore we would never return to.

So let’s be honest: business as usual is not good enough. If we’re going to set a foundation for future success, then we need to take a different approach.

So tonight I am going to set out the four pillars governing our Agenda for 2030.

Liberating the talents of all: an economy built from the middle out, not the top down 

First, pillar one. Liberating the talents of all. We can’t hope to succeed as a nation if we are not giving everyone – in every part of Britain – the platform to succeed as individuals.

This goes to the heart of Labour’s approach to growing our economy. Not expecting wealth to trickle down from the top, but built on the contributions of all. Extending opportunity and removing barriers to success.

It’s why Labour is committed to fixing broken markets and intensifying competition, reducing barriers to market entry for new businesses, supporting entrepreneurship.

It’s why we will get more finance flowing to business again with a proper, independent British Investment Bank and a network of regional banks to support businesses that need growth capital.

It’s why we will improve support for small firms looking to export.

Today we’ve seen the BIS Select Committee raise real concerns about the impact of rising business rates on retailers. Under David Cameron, small firms have seen hikes in business rates of £1,500 on average, and many will see further rises next month.

But manufacturers are suffering too. As industry leaders have explained, the Government is doing nothing to address problems of high and rising business rates facing manufacturing businesses. The Government’s business rates discount, announced with such a fanfare at the Autumn Statement, specifically excludes manufacturers.

Labour recognises the pressure that business rates are putting on businesses in all sectors. It is why we will cut and then freeze business rates, benefiting more than 1.5 million business premises.

And it’s why Labour stands for radical devolution of economic powers to our cities and regions. How does Germany succeed in growing its Mittelstand? Not by having decisions centralized in Berlin.

But, above all, it is why skills are my number one priority. I know it is yours too. Let’s be honest: for all the attempts at reform, our skills system remains dysfunctional.

For too long we have allowed our potential to be limited by a failure to develop the talents of all our people. Britain continues to have one of the highest incidences of low-paid, low-skilled work in the OECD.

That is unacceptable. There can be no future for Britain trying to compete without addressing the skills gap – competing on cost not quality, on low-wage strategies – in a self-defeating race to the bottom.

We must win a race to the top – supporting businesses like yours to create more jobs people can build a life on, and ensuring they have the skills to do them.

Here we all have an interest and we all have a responsibility. In this room are many of the best examples in Britain of firms who are providing world class training to the next generation of apprentices.

But – too many don’t. Two-thirds of large employers don’t feel it is their responsibility to train apprentices. And Government – itself a large employer – is failing to set the right example.

If we are to move forward as a nation this must change. It must become our defining purpose – a national mission.

Yesterday, my Shadow Cabinet colleague Tristram Hunt set out our plans to reform vocational education for 14s-19s. And in my blog for the EEF I explain in more detail how Labour will reform apprenticeships so that you – employers – will be in the driving seat. With control of the money, you will have responsibility for training the next generation.

And we need to think creatively. Catapult Centres were a brainchild of the last Labour Government, taken forward by this one. Just as they are at the cutting edge of technology, so we will support them to train a cohort of apprentices in the latest and best ideas too.

Solving tomorrow’s problems today 

Which brings me to the second pillar: Innovating to secure our future.

It will be a priority for us to invest in our science base and develop our national innovation system, including building on the role of Catapults and the Technology Strategy Board.

Because winning the race to the top means developing solutions to tomorrow’s problems today.

Of course, before you can solve them, you must first acknowledge that the problems exist. Take climate change, perhaps the biggest long-term challenge facing us.

I’ve visited Siemens Energy Service Training Centre in Newcastle which provides 1000 jobs. It is part of Siemens’ commitment to combating climate change and developing the next generation low carbon sources of energy. It’s incredibly impressive, and there are many other examples of firms in this room with similar compelling stories to tell.

But you can’t credibly claim to be supporting innovative companies like Siemens help Britain become a global leader in the production of green technologies if half of your Cabinet and your party do not accept the basic science of climate change in the first place. You can’t claim to be pro-innovation if your party is against the science.

We understand the impact of rising energy costs on businesses, particularly in manufacturing. That’s why we will fix the broken energy market, freezing prices for 20 months while we do so. This would save the average small business £5,000.

It is why we will establish an Energy Security Board to secure our energy future. We know there are concerns about the carbon floor price, which Martin explained very clearly in his speech.

But ultimately, as Martin also said, the solution is for us to help you transition to a low carbon economy. As our automotive sector and others are discovering – this offers a huge opportunity to lead and build market share, if we get the support right.

Active government, investing for the long-term

Which brings me to the third pillar: active government and a long-term approach to growth. We need to work strategically with you and encourage longer-term decision making in government and industry.

This means rules of the game that reward a longer-term focus in the decisions you make. Here we are grateful to Sir George Cox who – with your fantastic support – produced his excellent report on how we address the problem of short-termism in our economy.

It means putting decisions on infrastructure on a consistent, long-term path. That is why we will implement Sir John Armitt’s recommendation of a National Infrastructure Commission.

And it means implementation of an ambitious industrial strategy to support the development of UK industry in targeted sectors to make the most of our competitive edge.

So I will be laying out our plans for the eleven existing sector strategies over the coming months, outlining the improvements we would make, and where we want to extend the approach.

Here, again, I can’t tell you how grateful I am to the EEF for the support you are giving to Mike Wright of Jaguar Land Rover for the review he is leading for us on how an active government can work with you to develop our manufacturing supply chains. If you are not already, I would encourage everyone here to engage with Mike’s important work.

One way we will deepen the sectoral approach is by smarter use of public procurement to back our target industries. I was pleased to see jobs secured in Derby with the Crossrail contract going to Bombardier. But the Government still denies ‘community benefit’ – the local impact on UK growth and jobs – can be a factor in procurement within EU rules.

On that, they are wrong. Under a Labour Government we will take account of ‘community benefit’ as other countries across the EU do when making procurement decisions.

An outward-looking, open approach to the world, not isolation

The fourth and final pillar: success in the world requires international engagement; an open, outward-looking approach to the world.

To make the most of our opportunities around the globe, we must remain open to the world and engaged, shaping the forces of change in partnership with other countries – in Europe and beyond.

You’ve already heard from someone who speaks a lot of sense on this: Ken Clarke. But the fact is most of his Conservative cabinet colleagues and his party – like UKIP – are intensely relaxed, even enthusiastic, about the prospect of our exit from the EU and choosing isolation instead.

That would be disastrous for Britain. You simply cannot claim to be pro-exports if you are anti-EU.

Shutting ourselves off poses a huge threat to our future prosperity. And not only within Europe – our nearest and biggest market – but across the world: standing shoulder to shoulder with our European partners gives us access to other markets we couldn’t get into, or not so quickly.

Leaving makes no sense at all. It is a choice driven by ideology, not a policy for investment and growth.

We should do as the EEF’s excellent report on Europe recommends: Stay in. Focus efforts on reform. Make the EU work better for growth.

That is why we have proposed the appointment of an EU Growth Commissioner:

  • To remove unnecessary barriers to enterprise.
  • To bring greater coherence to European industrial policies.
  • To grow production networks for small and medium sized companies in European supply chains.

Having spoken with our European partners, it is clear that others are keen on this idea.

Conclusion

So there you have it. To succeed as a nation, we need you to succeed. This requires more than a return to business as usual. It requires an economy retooled for a world of change. Agenda 2030 is our long-term plan.

It is ambitious. It makes demands of us all. But I believe together we can build a strong, sustainable economy: generating wealth, good jobs, shared prosperity.

Because I believe we are strongest when we understand our mutual dependence: that business and society – we need each other. That we rise and fall together.

And I know, looking out on you this evening, that if we pull together, with all our talent, all our ambition, and all our ingenuity our best days still lie ahead.

Thank you so much.

Time for Real Reform on Stop and Search: Chuka writes for the SLP

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Chuka Umunna MP wrote the following column for the 21 February  edition of the South London Press:

Last Summer, I wrote in the South London Press about the government’s consultation on police stop and search powers. I thought it was important that the voice of our community was heard loud and clear when the government were considering what to do on such a serious issue.

In Lambeth we have come a long way since the situation in the 1980s and the relationship between the police and local people, still a long way from perfect, has improved. However it’s clear to me that the misuse of police stop and search powers over the years has undoubtedly undermined community policing locally.

There is a huge amount of damage that stop and search, used disproportionately, inappropriately, or too widely, has caused to the relationship between the police and the public they serve.

That damage can make the job of the police in keeping local people safe much more difficult, and too often it has made too many people, including young Black and Asian people in particular, distrustful of the police.

Last summer, when the government ran their consultation, the Home Secretary appeared to be listening to the concerns raised in our communities and by Labour MPs. But, more recently, media reports suggest David Cameron is blocking attempts to reform stop and search.

The Home Secretary, who had said she would come forward with firmer proposals after the consultation, has so far failed to do so. I know that might disappoint those who responded to the consultation, or those keen to seem reform, but I have not given up hope that we can secure action in this Parliament.

There is no doubt of the seriousness of the issue. Nationwide, young people in ethnic minority communities are seven times more likely to be stopped, and 27% of the 8,783 stop and search records reviewed by HMIC (Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary) between October 2012 and April 2013 did not even include sufficient grounds to justify the lawful use of the power.

The number of arrests following a stop and search has actually gone down by around 2% over the last five years to nine per cent – suggesting that powers are being used in an even less targeted way than before. In London there were 260,000 stop and searches last year which did not find any justification for arrest.

Yvette Cooper, Theresa May’s opposite number and my colleague in Labour’s Shadow Cabinet, this week offered the Home Secretary Labour’s cross-party co-operation to make sure this issue is not kicked into the long grass and that the much needed reform is enacted. Yvette made clear our view that the disproportionate impact of stop and search on BAME communities is shameful and that our Party is committed to reform.

I believe there is an incredibly strong case for the government to heed that call for reform, and we have already set out some of the ways we think stop and search could be reformed. For example we propose replacing the current guidance on avoiding race discrimination with legislation instead, sending a stronger message to everyone that stopping someone on the basis of the colour of their skin is illegal, discriminatory and shameful.

I also think that ensuring police officers are wearing cameras may help improve the way the police use those powers, and help to restore trust. The practice of setting targets for stop and searches, which has happened in some areas, should also be banned – that practice is clearly an abuse of the legislation.

I hope that by the time you read this column, the government will have listened to our call for action. Whatever the government does, I will not stop pressing until we get real reform, not just a consultation.

Umunna: Drivers Getting Duped on Boris’ Watch

Friday, February 21st, 2014

London motorists are being deliberately hit with penalty fines by Boris’ Transport for London (TfL) even whilst parked in London loading bays for just five minutes – despite signs displaying a maximum loading time of 20 minutes, Streatham MP Chuka Umunna has discovered.

Mr Umunna learned of the practice after writing to raise with TfL the case of a local constituent who had been issued with this type of fine and who had sought Mr Umunna’s help at one of the MP’s local surgeries. The TfL policy seems likely to particularly effect elderly or disabled people who might not be able to unload and return to a car within five minutes.

Loading bays on the Transport for London road network (TLRN) allow motorists to load or unload for a period of 20 minutes. However, TfL’s response to Mr Umunna confirms that TfL can issue fines after just five minutes if they do not see the car’s owner return to their vehicle during that time. A TfL official wrote to inform Mr Umunna that a Penalty Notice “may be issued if no loading is observed within a five minute period” because it is “not always practical to observe a vehicle for this entire [20 minute] period”.

Following TfL’s response, the Streatham MP has written to Boris Johnson, who as Mayor of London is responsible for TfL and Chairs the organisation, demanding answers and telling Boris that his “constituents would not be happy if TfL were unfairly putting their own convenience over that of ordinary motorists, especially if it appeared this was being done in order to raise revenue.”

Commenting, Chuka Umunna MP said:

“It is outrageous for TfL to put up boards all over London telling motorists they have twenty minutes to load their cars in a bay and then for them to book people after they’ve only been unloading for 5 minutes – it is utterly misleading and wrong.

“Particularly on High Streets, drivers – including local business owners – often need to be able to load and unload on our thoroughfares. Twenty minutes to unload should mean twenty minutes to unload, not being hit with a fine after just five.

“Boris Johnson is in charge of TfL so he should be standing up for London’s drivers, not letting them be used as cash machines for TfL during a cost of living crisis. TfL shouldn’t put their own convenience above that of ordinary people, and this seems like a clear cut case of London drivers getting duped on Boris’ watch – the Mayor needs to pay attention to the detail of policies affecting London motorists and act.”

Tribute to Cllr Mark Bennett

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

It is with great shock and sadness that I learnt of the death of our Mayor, my constituent and dear friend, Cllr Mark Bennett.  I cannot believe that he has been taken from us and, at 44, at such a young age.  His passing is a huge loss for our community, which he had taken to his heart and loved so much.

Mark was a kind and lovely guy with great intelligence, wit and insight.  Devoted to Lambeth, he not only served as our current Mayor but as councillor of his ward of Streatham South, after winning the by-election there in 2005.  His blog – http://markbennettlabour.wordpress.com/ – is testament to this, containing lots of historical factoids and interesting stories about our area that we never knew.  He was a conscientious and dedicated councillor – I have fond memories of doing Street stalls with him and canvassing the roads in Streatham Vale.  He also served on Lambeth’s Council’s cabinet from 2006 to 2010 as cabinet member for Community Safety and then Culture.

Mark was Labour through and through.  Every fabric of his being stayed true to the social democratic values of our party.  He was a champion of social justice not only locally but nationally too in Tony Blair’s 10 Downing Street operation working in the Communications Team under Alistair Campbell, whose diaries he co-edited.

There is so much to say – words cannot do Mark justice.  It seems like only yesterday that he gave such a wonderful and moving eulogy at the Memorial Service to the late Cllr Ruth Ling, one of our councillors in Tulse Hill, over the summer.  I cannot believe that Mark has now left us too.  He was so generous and such a support to all of us.  May you rest in peace Mark and thank you for being a shining light in our community.  We will so miss you and our love, thoughts and prayers are with your family at this incredibly difficult time.

Chuka

Chuka Umunna MP
Member of Parliament for Streatham
covering Streatham and parts of Clapham, Balham, Tulse Hill and Brixton
Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation &Skills
 

Local MP Chuka Umunna Supports Holocaust Memorial Day in Parliament

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

Marking Holocaust Memorial Day next week, local MP Chuka Umunna signed the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Book of Commitment in the House of Commons, honouring those who died during the Holocaust as well as honouring the extraordinary Holocaust survivors who work tirelessly to educate young people about what they endured.

Monday 27th January will mark the 69th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, the site of the largest mass murder in history.

In the weeks leading up to and after Holocaust Memorial Day, thousands of commemorative events will be arranged by schools, faith groups and community organisations across the country, remembering all the victims of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides.

Commenting, Chuka Umunna MP said:

“Holocaust Memorial Day marks the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau – it is an important opportunity to remember the victims and survivors of the Holocaust. I encourage all constituents to mark the day and to remember the vital importance of the fight against prejudice and intolerance.”

“We can never be complacent about the consequences of prejudice and hatred or we will keep seeing history repeating itself – we must remember what happened during the Holocaust and ensure that subsequent generations learn those lessons as well.  That is why I was so grateful to the Trust for enabling me to visit Auschwitz with school children from my constituency in 2012.”

Karen Pollock MBE, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said:

“We are proud that Chuka Umunna is supporting Holocaust Memorial Day.  It is vitally important that we both continue to remember and learn from the appalling events of the Holocaust – as well as ensuring that we continue to challenge antisemitism and all forms of bigotry.” 

Statement on the death of Dr Abbas Khan

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Chuka Umunna, Member of Parliament for Streatham, commenting on the death of Dr Abbas Khan, said:

“It was with great sorrow that I learned of the loss of my constituent, Dr Abbas Khan, whilst he was in the hands of the Syrian regime.

“He leaves behind a young family, and the thoughts and prayers of the whole community are with them during what will be a time of great pain and distress.

“For over 12 months now, I have been in contact with members of his family and the Foreign Office, trying to do what I can to assist the family as they have tried to secure his release.  His family have made it very clear to me that they believe he was killed by the Syrian regime. Their priority now is to secure the repatriation of his body and I see no reason why that request cannot be honoured by the Syrian regime immediately.

“I have written formally this morning to the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, asking him to give his urgent attention to securing this repatriation.  I have also asked him to meet with Dr Khan’s family so that they can discuss the handling of this matter by the Foreign Office with him.”