Statement about False Allegations

A statement from Janine Booth and Becky Crocker:

We are publishing this statement because false allegations have been made against us in public and we feel that we have no choice but to put the record straight.

In 2013, RMT member Caroline Leneghan made a complaint to the RMT union that its Assistant General Secretary Steve Hedley had behaved violently towards her during their relationship. Steve Hedley denied the allegation. When interviewed as part of RMT’s investigation of the complaint, Steve alleged that Janine Booth and Becky Crocker (and the socialist group Workers’ Liberty, of which we are members), had been involved in Caroline’s decision to make her complaint.

This allegation about Janine and Becky’s complicity in Caroline’s complaint is untrue and unfounded. Janine had never met Caroline Leneghan or had a conversation with her, let alone discussed her experiences with Steve Hedley. Becky had only met Caroline briefly on RMT demonstrations in support of the Tube cleaners’ living wage in 2008. We had no part in her complaint, and the first we knew about it was when Caroline made a public statement about it.

Janine was an employee of the union as an Executive member at the time of Steve’s first allegation against her. She made a complaint about it to the union, submitting evidence that proved the allegation to be untrue. After a lengthy investigation, the union’s Council of Executives concluded in February 2014 that Janine had indeed not collaborated with Caroline in any way in her complaint. Despite this finding being made ten months ago, Steve Hedley has – to our knowledge – offered no retraction or apology.

We are writing this statement now because, despite the lack of evidence of any conspiracy – because there was no conspiracy – a related allegation has recently been posted on a public website, ‘Safer Spaces Exposed’. 

The recent allegation relates to the 2014 RMT Women’s Conference, where a journalist, Rory MacKinnon, from the Morning Star newspaper, asked an RMT official a question about how the union had dealt with Caroline’s complaint.

The website contains a photograph, which originally carried the caption: ‘On the far left is Janine Booth, centre Rory MacKinnon, and on the right is Becky Crocker’.  The article originally stated that ‘MacKinnon is seen on the RMT video sitting with Becky Crocker and Janine Booth just before he asks the question’ and now states that ‘we were able to view the video of the proceedings and identified two senior AWL members (Janine Booth and Becky Crocker) standing next to MacKinnon when he asked the question’. The implication is clear: that both of us had collaborated with the journalist in planning to ask his question about Caroline’s complaint.

This is a lie. Neither of us had ever met him, talked to him or had any involvement in his asking the question. We can prove that we had had no contact with this reporter: Janine received a message from him after the conference in which he introduced himself, clearly for the first time. RMT members may watch the webcast on the union’s website and will see clearly that neither of us sat with the journalist at any point.

The ‘Safer Spaces Exposed’ website goes further. It quotes transcripts from interviews conducted as part of RMT’s internal investigation into Caroline’s allegation. These transcripts name Janine and other individuals. They are supposed to be confidential, but they have been made public on this website.

These allegations have caused us a great deal of stress over a long period of time. We are both hard-working and loyal RMT activists, who have given years of service in our trade union. We are committed to campaigning for workers’ and women’s rights. Becky is the Chair of RMT’s National Women’s Advisory Committee and Janine is a branch secretary and former national executive member (although we make this statement in a personal, not official, capacity). To be accused of – as these allegations present it – putting a vulnerable young woman up to make an untrue allegation of domestic violence is one of the worst things that could be said about us. It is perhaps an attempt to undermine Caroline’s complaint by suggesting that it was a fictional product of women conspiring with each other rather than a bona fide allegation.

In all this time, we have made no public statement about this, fearing further circulation of this defamation and wanting a proper procedure to follow its course.

However, with the publication of the ‘Safer Spaces Exposed’ website, it is clear that these false allegations will continue to be made. A link to this website has also been circulated by at least one RMT member to other RMT members. As this is now in the public sphere, we have no choice now but to make a public statement about it.

We believe strongly in the right to free speech, including the right to publish strident disagreements with, and criticisms of, others’ views and actions. However, this does not extend to the circulation of straightforward lies and insinuations of lies. We have reached a point where we are not prepared to allow this to continue without challenge.

We have reported these matters to our trade union, RMT.

Download Page Content (.pdf)