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Monday, 19 February 2018

Jo Cox's family pledge support to widower Brendan over sexual assault allegations

Written by Jack Hardy and Ryan Hooper

The family of murdered MP Jo Cox have pledged their support to her embattled widower Brendan after sexual assault allegations from his past resurfaced.

Ms Cox's sister Kim Leadbeater said Mr Cox "did the right thing" in admitting "inappropriate" behaviour while he worked at Save the Children in 2015.

Mr Cox denied preying on two women while he was married to the late politician, but said: "I made mistakes and behaved in a way that caused some women hurt and offence."

He has left posts at More in Common and the Jo Cox Foundation after the Mail on Sunday published accusations, though he claimed allegations that he forced himself on a woman during a trip to Harvard University in the US were a "massive exaggeration".

In a statement following his resignations at the weekend, Ms Leadbeater said: "This is another very difficult day for our family. The last 20 months have been a constant roller-coaster of emotions which we are still dealing with on a daily basis.

"My priority is and always will be looking after Jo and Brendan's children and supporting my parents, who have already been through so much.

"As a family we will support Brendan (pictured) as he endeavours to do the right thing by admitting mistakes he may have made in the past, and we respect him for doing so.

"We all make mistakes. Brendan is a wonderful father and I have no doubt about the happiness he brought to Jo.

"My other focus is to wholeheartedly continue the work I have begun through the More in Common movement at a local and national level and to support The Jo Cox Foundation in continuing its valuable work.

"I have a fantastic team of people who have supported me so far and I know they will continue to do so as we focus on creating a positive legacy for Jo. Thank you to everyone for your ongoing support."

Labour MP Mrs Cox was fatally shot and stabbed outside her constituency office by a far-right terrorist during the EU Referendum campaign in 2016.

The pair married in 2009 and had two children together.

The Mail on Sunday claimed Mr Cox drunkenly harassed a female employee at Save the Children in London - allegedly holding her by the throat and making a lurid comment. He left his role at the charity shortly afterwards.

Her husband said in a statement on Saturday night: "I want to apologise deeply and unreservedly for my past behaviour and for the hurt and offence that I have caused.

"While I do not accept the allegations contained in the 2015 complaint to the police in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I do acknowledge and understand that during my time at Save the Children I made mistakes and behaved in a way that caused some women hurt and offence.

"This was never malicious but it was certainly inappropriate."

Labour backbench MP Jess Phillips, a friend of Ms Cox, said her widower was right to stand back from the charities.

She told ITV's Peston on Sunday: "I think the truth of the matter is we live in an era where men are going to have to address (their) behaviour both previously and in the future and what I want to see, I don't like this idea that we just switch off our feelings ... I love Brendan, he's my friend.

"His family are friends with my family, but the fact of the matter is, is that it's not enough just to say 'oh I'm sorry', you have to show how you're going to change the way you are in the future and I think Brendan, more so than many I've seen in this area is actually trying to do that."

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Danny Lawson / PA Wire.