"I was surplus to requirements due to favours of new female admirers"
Birmingham MP Khalid Mahmood has been accused of unfairly dismissing his ex-lover and former aide Elaina Cohen.
She alleged that he “ghosted” her after she made serious allegations against a female colleague.
Mr Mahmood is also accused of failing to act on the allegations she submitted under whistleblowing regulations.
The Perry Barr MP denies the claims.
Meanwhile, Ms Cohen was accused of having a history of “making life difficult” for women working for Mr Mahmood.
In exchanges with the MP, she used the nickname ‘Catfish Khalid’ and regularly referred to him as a “womaniser”.
Ms Cohen also referred to his female employees as “harem”.
At an employment tribunal, it was heard that Ms Cohen and Mr Mahmood had an affair which ended in 2005.
She continued to work for him until she was sacked in 2020.
WhatsApp messages between the pair were exchanged in 2019 and 2020.
Ms Cohen claimed that she made criminal allegations against a female colleague because she wanted to protect constituents and the MP’s reputation, and to maintain standards.
She became frustrated when Khalid Mahmood appeared to ignore them.
Instead of acting on the claims, he isolated her and “threatened to sack her”.
Ms Cohen denied suggestions from Mr Mahmood’s barrister Tom Perry that her claims were rooted in jealousy.
She also claimed there had been prior attempts by Mr Mahmood to ‘sideline her’ since the end of her personal relationship with him, but said this was the first time he had said he was going to sack her.
In one WhatsApp exchange on January 3, 2020, Ms Cohen messaged the MP:
“So sorry to remind you that I am a member of your staff. I have not heard from you in relation to Parliament since the election (in December 2019).
“If this continues I will just do my own thing, as I have since 2005 when you decided I was surplus to requirements due to favours of new female admirers and girlfriends.”
In a separate exchange, Ms Cohen was in contact with the charity, Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD).
She had raised a series of issues about one intern in particular who had worked with Mr Mahmood.
In return, WFD said they were concerned about whether Ms Cohen was unfairly making inappropriate inquiries of the female member of staff, who had in turn gone on to make a formal complaint of harassment against Ms Cohen.
The intern had also complained to the House of Commons personnel department, saying Ms Cohen had “stalked her online” and forced her to limit all her social media accounts.
Ms Cohen said she was unaware of the complaints, telling Mr Perry:
“Nobody ever mentioned it to me.”
Mr Perry alleged that Ms Cohen had a history of “making life difficult” for women working for Mr Mahmood “and you do that when you see them as a threat to your position, a rival for your job”, something she denied.
Another exchange in April 2020 saw Ms Cohen message Khalid Mahmood to say that she would “halt her complaint” if the female colleague she had complained about was to leave.
Other exchanges saw Ms Cohen refer to Mr Mahmood as spiteful, a womaniser and stupid.
Ms Cohen said some of the messages were “humorous banter” between the pair, stating that her intention was to ensure he upheld the standards in public life expected of an MP.
She told the court:
“His nickname was Catfish Khalid. It was funny but rather apt.”
“He wears it as a badge of honour, it is a nickname not an insult.”
Ms Cohen denied that she worked independently for Khalid Mahmood, and that she followed his instructions.
She added: “I would never do anything without seeking his permission. I kept him totally briefed.”
Ms Cohen said Mr Mahmood ignored her to the point of ghosting her.
She said: “He took no action on the protected disclosures. I was ignored.”
The hearing continues.