“I’m Caroline Leneghan”: the RMT and domestic violence

March 9, 2013 at 11:55 pm (anti-semitism, hell, Human rights, left, misogyny, RMT, sexism, Socialist Party, thuggery, unions, women, workers)

Above: Hedley verbally attacks a Jew who dared challenge him; another chosen victim, close to his lumpen heart…

Utterly appalling:

Today (8 Mar 2013 -SS) I would like to show my solidarity with women all over the world on International Women’s day and to raise the issue of domestic violence against women. The RMT have released a model domestic violence policy for the transport industry which I hope gets rolled out to every employer.

I’m Caroline Leneghan, I’m a member of the RMT and assistant Branch Secretary of my RMT branch. Until recently I was in a relationship with the RMT Assistant General Secretary Steve Hedley. During the relationship I experienced physical and mental domestic violence which made me feel hopeless to challenge. In January I reported a violent assault to the police that took place the previous year. On this occasion he kicked a pot of paint at me, threw me around by my hair and pinned me to the floor repeatedly punching me in the face. The extent of my injuries meant I couldn’t go out for weeks. I had severe bruising and swelling to my face and body and he had pulled out clumps of my hair.  I have decided to make a public statement about this because of his public position in the union and because I want to encourage other women to come forward who have faced similar abuse.

Additionally, as I am a member of the RMT I felt that it was important to raise my assault with the RMT. I believe that he will continue to perpetrate abuse and is a threat to female members. I want to continue my activism within the union but I do not feel safe to do so unless this matter is dealt with properly.

When I raised the assault with the union, I was subjected to what is known as as ‘victim blaming’. I was distressed and astonished at the questions I was asked and the investigating officer displayed a total lack of respect and sensitivity, and a lack of understanding of domestic violence. The investigator tried to make a link between my mental health and the assault and deemed it appropriate to inquire about my personal history, but has not deemed it necessary to look into Steve’s, despite the fact that it is his behaviour that is being called into question and not mine. The investigatior attempted to focus his attention on anything about me which could exonerate or mitigate Steve’s behaviour.

I was also shocked that the investigator asked to explain how someone of Steve Hedley’s build and proficient at boxing did not cause me more injuries. The investigator also accused me of causing the injuries myself. It is outrageous that when a woman reports an assault it would be considered feasible that she severely beat up her own face and further to also attempt to make a link with her mental health is collusion with the tactics of manipulation that abusers use to silence their victims. I felt degraded and that I had done something ‘wrong’ in reporting the attack.

These actions contribute to a culture where perpetrators of violence are never punished for their behaviour. It is a well known fact that women do not come forward when they have faced abuse because they fear the treatment they will get. Since receiving help from Victim Support I have learnt that it is common for perpetrators of domestic abuse to deflect blame for their actions onto their victims and attempting to discredit their claims and to shame them into remaining silent.

I think it is important to say that I am a proud member of the RMT because I thought it was committed to fighting for justice and equality for all workers. I had hoped that it would take seriously a claim against a senior elected representative and treat me with respect when I have made such a serious allegation. I am shocked and saddened that instead I have had to undergo a character assassination. No aspect of my life has been spared from scrutiny, using any detail, no matter how sensitive, used in a horrible and insensitive manner to undermine my claim.

I am writing this because I feel it is imperative that all organisations on the left take a look at themselves and question whether they are doing all they can to support their female members and fight sexism and abuse, in all its guises. I believe that we need strong unions and organisations like the RMT to fight all forms of inequality in society. It cannot do this if it allows sexism to go unchallenged and it fails to investigate its elective representatives seriously.

Women do not have equality in the labour movement or the left. This is a struggle and a fight that goes on everyday at work/ in our unions/ at home/ in meetings, etc. To women; we are what militant trade unionists look like. The labour movement continues to heroises a macho, aggressive archetype of what a good trade unionist looks like. Recently highlighted problems on the left (e.g. the SWP rape case handling) have demonstrated the need for radical change. A support group made up of women from the left and labour movement to support women and challenging abuse and sexism should be set up.

In the past week my case against him was dropped by the police due to falling foul of their timescale for submitting a complaint. Steve has made an official statement to the RMT that the case was dropped and he was found innocent and exonerated. This is completely untrue. The investigating officer said the CPS would not prosecute because the incident had not happened in the past 6 months. Furthermore, I have been told that, had I reported it within 6 months, they would have had enough evidence to charge him with common assault. But due to the lapse in time, they instead had to arrest him on suspicion of ABH. However, the CPS sets a very high bar for chances of conviction (I was informed that they will only bring forward to trial cases that they believe have a 90 per cent chance of conviction).

Please note: *trigger warning*. I’ve included these photos because I feel I need to show people how ludicrous his story that I beat myself up is.

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If you would like to contact me please email  leneghancaroline@gmail.com

(NB: Shiraz Socialist has had cause to comment upon Mr Hedley before: here; this creature must be removed from all positions within the labour movement, forthwith).

32 Comments

  1. Jim Denham said,

    This isn’t just Hedley, vile as he is: Crow, Gordon and virtually the entire RMT bureaucracy are complicit in this.

  2. Mike Killingworth said,

    And who is the biggest culprit of all? Drink.

    There should certainly be a recall election procedure in cases like this.

  3. Michael Moran said,

    No surprise. Anybody who saw Bob Crow the racist, railing against migrant workers, calling for them to be restricted from working in the UK, withdraw from the EU, with all of its pro worker directives, on QT, should be completely un shocked by the fact his mate is a thug. It is in the labour aristocrats blood

  4. charleymarx said,

    For an interesting theoretical piece provoked by the RMT, SWP and other recent scandals see:

    ‘Feminism is a dirty word’. What would Marx and Engels think today? – Camilla Power
    http://libcom.org/history/%E2%80%98feminism-dirty-word%E2%80%99-what-would-marx-engels-think-today-camilla-power-radical-anthropol

  5. “Feminism is a dirty word’. What would Marx and Engels think today? – Camilla Power. | Tendance Coatesy said,

    [...] of England and Wales.   The comrades from Shiraz Socialist have a post today on the RMT ““I’m Caroline Leneghan”: The RMT and domestic violence“  and cite the name of the individual accused.   Honestly when I saw the pictures of [...]

    • Andrew Coates said,

      LibCom org asked us to repost Camilla’s article.

      I saw Caroline Lengehan’s brave article yesterday.

      It remains seared in my mind, and you can be sure, that must be the case for all of us.

      The more you hear about Hedley……..

      • Claire Boxer said,

        Hedley should go to the police and make a compaint against this woman and anybody who has encouraged her to make these malicious and defamatory accusations or publicised them on her behalf. The AWL are trying to convict a decent trade unionist in the kangaroo court of public opinion and should be pulled up for it. Unlike the SWP most people do believe in taking accusations of assault, rape or whatever to the police but you are encouraging this woman not to do that but to simply slander a decent bloke.

  6. Jim Denham said,

    There’s a most interesting discussion on this (including some seriously sick contributions) over at Socialist Unity (who prevent us linking): in the course of the comments over there it’s been stated that Hedley is a member of the Socialist Party. If that’s so, I’d expect them to expel him immediately.

    • Claire Boxer said,

      This blog is more like the Daily Mail everyday.

      • Jim Denham said,

        Only in the sense that even the Daily Mail is formally opposed to wife/partner-beating.

  7. paul Mellelieu said,

    Is the SU site down, or am I being blocked?

  8. daniel young said,

    Haven!t tried the S.U.line, are they to busy battering those less feeble.Never hit a female how cowardly,and yes it is so macho old age thing.Just don!t do it.

  9. Clive said,

    @Claire Boxer – what evidence do you have that she’s making this up?

  10. Jim Denham said,

    Claire: are you saying she beat herself up? Or employed a skilled makeup artist?

  11. Claire Boxer said,

    Perhaps you did it for her Denham?

  12. Jim Denham said,

    Claire’s last comment does not warrant dignifying with a reply. Meanwhile, I’ve received this:

    From: marshajane Thompson [marshajanethompson@yahoo.co.uk]
    Sent: 12 March 2013 05:38
    To: londonlrc@yahoogroups.com; unisonunitedleft@unionlists.org.uk
    Subject: [uul] : Women in the Labour Movement

    Please let us know if you will be willing to sign the statement below.
    We will aim to launch this around TUC Womens conference and get as many signatories as possible.
    Thanks in advance.
    Marshajane Thompson and Cath Elliott
    Womeninthelabourmovement.wordpress.com

    Our movement must be a safe space for women

    We the undersigned labour movement activists stand in solidarity with all women opposing all forms of male violence against women. We recognise that male violence against women is endemic in society, and that our movement is obviously and unfortunately not exempt.

    We believe that our trade union and labour
    movement has the potential to transform society for the better. Therefore we have a particular responsibility to confront and challenge male violence against women within our movement.

    Male violence against women is not acceptable in any case. It must not be tolerated from those who hold office or power in our movement.

    We recognise the enormous challenges faced by women victims of male violence, and the pressures which women face, including from abusive men, not to complain about violence and abuse. We therefore believe that, when women complain of male violence within our movement, our trade unions and political organisations should start from a position of believing women.

    We believe that all women who complain of male violence have the right to be listened to and supported.

    All labour movement activists have a responsibility to work to ensure that our movement is a safe space for women. Because we stand in solidarity with all women opposing male violence we accept that we have a responsibility to women throughout our movement, whether or not
    we are members of the same trade union or the same political organisation.

    We therefore address these demands to all trade unions and political organisations which are part of our labour movement.

    Marshajane Thompson
    Cath Elliott

  13. Modernity's Ghost said,

    Jim,

    The caption “Hedley verbally attacks a Jew who dared challenge him; “ is rather poorly worded and could be read the wrong way.

    Perhaps you might consider re-jigging?

  14. Jim Denham said,

    Mod: it was intended to shock. I don’t think anyone who follows this blog or knows my politics is likely to misunderstand. After all the person Hedley was verbally attacking (and, also, apparently, physically intimidating) *was* “a Jew.”

  15. Modernity's Ghost said,

    Sigh,

    Jim, if *someone* else went around saying:

    “he’s a Black”, “he’s a Gypsy” or in this case, “A Jew”

    then I’d think either they were completely insensitive to racism or didn’t realise that invoking an ethnic label plays into the hands of racists.

    Socialists should be aware of these pitfalls and avoid objectifying individuals into ethnic labels and crude ones at that.

    I do wish you’d rethink this issue.

  16. Jim Denham said,

    “He’s a Black”, “he’s a Gypsy”. Or, indeed “he’s a Muslim” or “he’s a Catholic.” I don’t see, logically, why adding (say) “person” make it any less “objectifying” though I agree that (in the case of “he’s a Jew” it does seem to).

    Once again, Mod, I don’t really follow your point.

  17. Modernity's Ghost said,

    Jim, when you start talking about individuals as their ethnicity. ie “A Jew” then you have contributed to the dehumanisation of people.

    It is crass to refer to people as their ethnicity.

    Its common enough amongst bigots or those that don’t understand racism, but thoughtful types or thinking socialists try to avoid it.

    It is the type of discourse that Atzmon uses, and its wrong when he or anyone else goes down that path, for so many reasons.

    I understand your *intention* but the resultant caption does not read too well.

  18. Mike Killingworth said,

    I think that there’s a difference between referencing an individual’s religion (or indeed atheism) on the one hand, and their ethnicity on the other. Problem is:- “Jew” is ambiguous.

    • Modernity's Ghost said,

      A further difficulty, which should be bleeding obvious to thinking socialists, is that such language is very resemblant of the 1930s.

      Socialists and antiracists should not deliberately choose to objectify individuals as being their ethnicity**.

      It is inappropriate language for socialists to use.

      Read this modifies sentence and see the problem:

      “Above: Hedley verbally attacks a Black who dared challenge him”

      —-
      ** For purposes of this discussion, most informed antiracists accept that Jews are an ethnicity, as does the Race Relations Act in Britain, etc etc

      • Mike Killingworth said,

        Are you suggesting that my comment was in some way racist or neo-fascist? (I appreciate, MG, that you want to live in a parallel universe in which everyone except you is both, so feel free to answer from your heart…)

  19. Modernity's Ghost said,

    NO, I wasn’t.

    I was agreeing with you.

    Rather that Jim should be more careful in his usage of words.

    A point I have made a few times, which I would had hoped could have sunk in, but alas not.

    • Mike Killingworth said,

      Cheers, MG. (I don’t really get who’s who round here…)

  20. Modernity's Ghost said,

    Not a problem, very easy to misread things, similar to my above point with Jim.

    You made a good point, as the term is ambiguous therefore best avoided, if there are better ways of expressing it.

    Seems that Hedley has resigned from the SP.

    http://socialistunity.com/has-the-rmt-acted-inadequately-over-allegations-of-domestic-violence/#comment-643591

    ” 139. The Socialist Party has received a message from Steve Hedley, assistant general secretary of the RMT, resigning from the Socialist Party.

    Steve feels it is necessary to resign in order to concentrate on dealing with an allegation of domestic violence which has been made against him. Steve refutes this allegation, which is currently being investigated by the RMT.

    Steve wrote:

    “Regarding our conversation earlier the police have dropped the case and I’m currently awaiting the outcome of the RMT investigation.

    “I am not in control of when the decision will be made and have been strongly advised against issuing a public statement whilst investigations are ongoing.

    “I know this puts the Socialist Party in a difficult position and am therefore resigning my membership.

    “I will continue to support TUSC and the NSSN and work constructively with SP comrades.”

    Posted by Rinka 14 March, 2013 at 7:48 pm “

    No doubt, he’ll join the SWP and be very safe there!

  21. GalleySlave said,

    Obviously self-inflicted superficial head-wounds … Hedley should have used a bat to avoid hurting his knuckles … Luckily the RMT’s Central Star Chamber will now get to the bottom of it and properly convict this slanderous witch!

  22. Jim Denham said,

    From a leading member of the SP:

    The Socialist Party has received a message from Steve Hedley, assistant general secretary of the RMT, resigning from the Socialist Party.

    Steve feels it is necessary to resign in order to concentrate on dealing with an allegation of domestic violence which has been made against him. Steve refutes this allegation, which is currently being investigated by the RMT.

    Steve wrote:

    “Regarding our conversation earlier the police have dropped the case and I’m currently awaiting the outcome of the RMT investigation.

    “I am not in control of when the decision will be made and have been strongly advised against issuing a public statement whilst investigations are ongoing.

    “I know this puts the Socialist Party in a difficult position and am therefore resigning my membership.

    “I will continue to support TUSC and the NSSN and work constructively with SP comrades.”

    On Friday the 8th, Caroline Lenaghan, a member of the RMT union, made a public accusation (online here: http://carolineleneghan.wordpress.com/2013/03/08/3/ — trigger warning for graphic images of injuries) of domestic violence against her former partner Steve Hedley, who is also Assistant General Secretary of the RMT and a Socialist Party member. One member of the NCAFC NC has approached me privately on the Socialist Party’s response to the claims; I am responding here for the sake of openness.

    The first thing I’ll say is that I have to be careful how I phrase this letter as Hedley has made threats of legal action against people repeating the allegations. The second is that this is not the Party’s full, formal response, but an initial response, for reasons explained below. In my own opinion, the photographs Lenaghan has posted are both shocking and compelling and they create the impression that it is very likely Hedley beat Lenaghan.

    Steve Hedley joined the Socialist Party in November 2012. At the time we were not aware of Lenaghan’s accusations. We became aware of them in January 2013, when Hedley approached the Party for help defending him against the allegations at the start of the RMT’s investigation. I am told he insists he is innocent.

    Lenaghan did not call upon the Socialist Party to open a disciplinary procedure against Hedley in her blog post nor has she asked us to take any action. Due to an arbitrary rule on time limits for accusations of assault, the Crown Prosecution Service are declining to take any action. Therefore the Party is waiting to see the outcome of the RMT’s investigation and disciplinary procedure, which is due next week. The result will influence our decisions but will not bind us; if Hedley is exonerated by the RMT this does not preclude the Party taking action. When the RMT’s procedures are finished, the Party will make a public statement.
    We are not a court and cannot impose any higher sanction than expulsion on any member. We could, hypothetically, call on Hedley to resign from his RMT position but we cannot compel him to do so.

    I do not have more information than what I have written here that I can share at this time.

  23. GalleySlave said,

    @ Denham,

    “We … cannot impose any higher sanction than expulsion on any member” — does that mean shoving him, after ‘interrogation’, out of a speeding Jaguar, like in the Mafia flicks?

    • Modernity's Ghost said,

      The comment above (March 16, 2013 at 4:42 pm) was from a leading member of the SP, not Jim, as indicated by the sentence

      “Steve Hedley joined the Socialist Party in November 2012. At the time we were not aware of Lenaghan’s accusations. We became aware of them in January 2013, when Hedley approached the Party for help defending him against the allegations…”

      I had wondered why Hedley was a SP member. He didn’t seem their “type”. They aren’t terribly obsessed with the Middle East as far as I have seen, and they don’t have Hedley’s habits around this subject.

      I suspect they are well shot of him.

  24. Chris said,

    Steve Hedley has issued a statement following the RMT investigation’s decision:

    http://stevenhedley.wordpress.com/2013/03/28/statement-from-steve-hedley-cleared-of-domestic-violence/

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