Open main menu

John Zak Woodcock[3] (born 14 October 1978)[4] is a British politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Barrow and Furness since 2010. Woodcock was suspended and subsequently had the Labour whip withdrawn on 30 April 2018 following allegations of sexual harassment made against him. He then sat as an Independent Member of Parliament and on 18 July 2018 resigned from the Labour Party.

John Woodcock

Official portrait of John Woodcock crop 2.jpg
Official Parliamentary Portrait, 2017
Shadow Minister for Transport
In office
9 October 2010 – 6 September 2015
LeaderEd Miliband
Preceded byWillie Bain
Succeeded byDaniel Zeichner
Member of Parliament
for Barrow and Furness
Assumed office
7 May 2010
Preceded byJohn Hutton
Majority209 (0.5%)
Personal details
Born (1978-10-14) 14 October 1978 (age 40)
Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England[1]
Political partyParliamentary affiliation:
The Independents[2] (2019–)
Party membership:
Independent (2018–)
Other political
Labour (until 2018)
Spouse(s)Mandy Telford (div.)
Domestic partnerIsabel Hardman
ChildrenTwo daughters
Alma materUniversity of Edinburgh


Early life and careerEdit

Woodcock was born in Sheffield to parents who were teachers, his mother at Rotherham College of Arts and Technology. His father was a Labour councillor. He was educated at Tapton School and the University of Edinburgh. While taking his degree he took time out to work as a journalist on The Scotsman, before returning to the university to complete his English and history degree.[5][6][7]

Woodcock was elected to run the London branch of Labour Students, and then worked for the Labour Party on the 2005 general election campaign.[5] He later worked as an aide to John Hutton from 2005 to 2008 and later as Special Adviser to Prime Minister Gordon Brown.[8][9]

Parliamentary careerEdit

Woodcock was elected to the House of Commons as Member of Parliament for Barrow and Furness in the 2010 general election with a majority of 5,208.[10] He succeeded John Hutton, the constituency's Labour MP since 1992.

On 10 October 2010, only five months after being elected to Parliament, he was named a Shadow Minister for Transport. He stepped down from this post in January 2013.

From July 2011 to January 2013, Woodcock was Chair of Labour Friends of Israel.[11]

In December 2013, Woodcock announced he was suffering from depression and sought treatment for the condition.[12]

He was a member of the Public Bill Committee for the Defence Reform Act 2014.[13] Until 2015, Woodcock was the chair of Progress, a ginger group within the Labour Party, promoting Blairite policies within the party.[14]

In March 2015, Woodcock was reported to the UK Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. The investigation concerned his office's use of public funds for postage-paid envelopes and whether this contravened a rule which prohibits public funds being used to support the return of a person to public office. The postage-paid envelopes had been used in relation to a local Save Our Hospital campaign, an issue the local Conservative candidate claimed was prominent on Woodcock's 2015 General Election campaign leaflets.[15] During the Commission's investigation, Woodcock admitted that he should not have used public funds for such a purpose and the Commissioner upheld the complaint, finding that Woodcock contravened parliamentary rules. Woodcock returned the £1881.22, which his office had spent on the envelopes, to the House of Commons.[16]

In May 2015, Woodcock was appointed Shadow Minister for Young People, but resigned in September 2015, following the election of Jeremy Corbyn as party leader.[5][17]

Since Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of the Labour Party, Woodcock has been a strong critic, joking about what he saw as a desperate situation at the 2015 Labour Party conference.[18] In March 2016, Woodcock penned an article on the Daily Mirror critical of Corbyn, which resulted in a backlash against him.[19][20][21] Shortly after the announcement of the 2017 general election, Woodcock said he "will not countenance" voting to place Corbyn into Downing Street because of the Labour leader's opposition to the "Trident renewal programme" and would seek his constituency party's re-nomination.[22][23]

In 2016, Woodcock supported the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen against the Shia Houthis[24] and, in 2018, met the king of Saudi Arabia, King Salman, in the Saudi capital of Riyadh, in his role as chair of Labour's backbench foreign affairs committee.[25]

Woodcock was re-elected in the 2017 general election, with a reduced majority of 209 votes.[26]

On 16 January 2019, Woodcock abstained in the vote of confidence in Theresa May's Conservative Government, saying that Jeremy Corbyn was "unfit to lead the country".[27]

Sexual harassment accusation and resignation from the Labour PartyEdit

On 30 April 2018 Woodcock was suspended from membership of the Labour Party and had the party whip withdrawn following the allegations of sexual harassment. "I do not accept the charge" Woodcock said.[28] The allegation was that he sent inappropriate SMS and other messages to a former employee between 2014 and 2016.[29] On 24 June 2018, Woodcock said he would no longer cooperate with the Labour Party investigation as he believed it to be politically motivated. Woodcock stated that he would take the General Secretary of the Labour Party to court to force an independent inquiry to take place.[30]

On 18 July 2018, Woodcock resigned from the Labour Party, choosing to sit as an Independent MP for the remainder of the term. He said that he believed that the party was "no longer the broad church it has always been", but had instead been "taken over by the hard left" under Corbyn's leadership.[31] Woodcock further called Corbyn "a clear risk to UK national security", and criticised what he saw as the party's tacit endorsement of antisemitism and its failure to provide an independent investigator to rule on his disciplinary case, which he claimed was being "manipulated for factional purposes" within the party.[31][29] Labour rejected all accusations of bias against Woodcock, arguing that the process is the same for all similar cases.[31][29] In an interview with The Times Woodcock called Corbyn "a security risk to the Country".[32]

He sat as an Independent MP before joining a loose grouping of pro-European MPs known as The independents in July 2019. [33][34]

Personal lifeEdit

Woodcock was married to Mandy Telford, former President of the National Union of Students.[35] They have two daughters. The couple separated in late 2014, and Telford returned to live in Scotland with the children.[36] They divorced in 2015.[35]

Woodcock is in a relationship with Isabel Hardman of The Spectator magazine.[37][7]


  1. ^ "Who's Who". Who's Who?. Retrieved on 1 July 2016.
  2. ^ "Take two: Ex-Change UK MPs forge new alliance called The Independents". CityAM. 10 July 2019. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  3. ^ "No. 59418". The London Gazette. 13 May 2010. p. 8740.
  4. ^ "John Woodcock MP". BBC Democracy Live. BBC. Retrieved 25 July 2010.
  5. ^ a b c Cooney, Rebecca (7 September 2015). "Profiles – John Woodcock, shadow minister for young people". FE Week. Retrieved 30 March 2018.
  6. ^ Macrory, Sam (1 March 2012). "John Woodcock: The all action MP". PoliticsHome. Retrieved 30 March 2018.
  7. ^ a b Rachel Sylvester, Alice Thomson (21 July 2018). "John Woodcock interview: 'Corbyn would leave our country and its allies at risk of nuclear blackmail'". The Times. London. Retrieved 3 November 2018.
  8. ^ "Meet Labour's man set to replace John Hutton". North-West Evening Mail. 19 June 2009. Archived from the original on 1 April 2012. Retrieved 8 May 2010.
  9. ^ Jess Freeman (9 July 2010). "NUS presidents: where are they now?". Total Politics. Retrieved 13 July 2010.
  10. ^ "Barrow & Furness". BBC News. Retrieved 8 May 2010.
  11. ^ Dysch, Marcus (5 July 2011). "Labour Friends of Israel name new chair". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 21 October 2011.
  12. ^ I am depressed and I have decided to get help The Independent, 5 December 2013. Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  13. ^ "House of Commons Public Bill Committee on the Defence Reform Bill 2013–14". Retrieved 17 September 2013.
  14. ^ "Alison McGovern elected chair of Progress". Progress Online. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  15. ^ "Barrow MP reported to watchdog over envelopes for raffle". North-West Evening Mail 5 March 2015. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
  16. ^ "Complaint about Mr John Woodcock MP" (PDF). Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  17. ^ Offord, Paul (14 September 2015). "Labour to appoint fifth Shadow Minister for Young People in under three years after John Woodcock stands down". FE Week. Retrieved 30 March 2018.
  18. ^ Bolton, Doug (28 September 2015). "Labour MP John Woodcock mocks Jeremy Corbyn's calls for unity at private conference event". The Independent. Retrieved 29 March 2018.
  19. ^ Woodcock, John (24 March 2016). "'We can't go on like this': Labour MP urges colleagues to rally against Jeremy Corbyn". The Mirror. Retrieved 1 July 2016.
  20. ^ "John Woodcock told to accept 'democratic decision' to elect Jeremy Corbyn". Politics Home. 26 March 2016. Retrieved 1 July 2016.
  21. ^ "Jeremy Corbyn urged to act over Momentum mental health jibe". Politics Home. 26 March 2016. Retrieved 1 July 2016.
  22. ^ Schofield, Kevin (18 April 2017). "Labour MP John Woodcock: I can't vote for Jeremy Corbyn to be Prime Minister". Politics Home. Retrieved 19 April 2017.
  23. ^ Mason, Rowena; Elgot, Jessica (18 April 2017). "Corbyn's decision to back election causes serious concerns among his MPs". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 April 2017.
  24. ^ "The Labour rebels who didn't back the Yemen vote have blood on their hands". The Guardian. 28 October 2016.
  25. ^ Sims, Vanessa (12 April 2018). "From Barrow to Saudi Arabia – John Woodcock leads delegation to meet King Salman". The Mail. Cumbria, UK. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  26. ^ "Barrow and Furness parliamentary constituency – Election 2017". BBC News. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  27. ^ Stewart, Heather; Eglot, Jessica; Walker, Peter (17 January 2019). "Theresa May survives vote, but Britain remains in Brexit deadlock". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 January 2019.
  28. ^ Cowburn, Ashley (1 May 2018). "Labour MP John Woodcock suspended from party after sexual harassment allegation". The Independent. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  29. ^ a b c Walker, Peter (18 July 2018). "MP John Woodcock quits Labour amid disciplinary case". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 July 2018.
  30. ^ Allegretti, Aubrey (24 June 2018). "Labour MP John Woodcock slams 'tainted' sexual harassment investigation". Sky News. Retrieved 19 July 2018.
  31. ^ a b c "MP John Woodcock quits Labour Party". BBC News. 18 July 2018. Retrieved 18 July 2018.
  32. ^ Alice Thomson, Lucy Fisher, Chief Political Correspondent | Rachel Sylvester | (21 July 2018). "John Woodcock: Corbyn is a security risk, says MP who quit Labour". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  33. ^ "Take two: Ex-Change UK MPs forge new alliance called The Independents". CityAM. 10 July 2019.
  34. ^ "Barrow MP joins new breakaway group The Independents". The Mail.
  35. ^ a b Prince, Rosa (7 August 2015). "Liz Kendall hits out at unfounded sex smears". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  36. ^ "Anna Smith". The Westmorland Gazette. 27 November 2014. Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  37. ^ Dickson, Annabelle (13 September 2017). "Westminster's power couples". POLITICO. Retrieved 18 November 2017.

External linksEdit