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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 June 2018

Husband of slain UK politician resigns from charities amid sexual harassment allegations

Brendan Cox quit roles at two charities set up in memory of his wife Jo Cox

Brendan Cox, widower of murdered British MP Jo Cox makes a speech during a gathering to celebrate her life, in Trafalgar Square, London. Alastair Grant/ AP Photo
Brendan Cox, widower of murdered British MP Jo Cox makes a speech during a gathering to celebrate her life, in Trafalgar Square, London. Alastair Grant/ AP Photo

Brendan Cox, the husband of the murdered politician Jo Cox, has stepped down from two charities set up his wife’s honour following allegations of sexual harassment.

Mr Cox admitted to inappropriate behaviour during his time working at Save the Children but denies assaulting a woman in her 30s while on a trip to Harvard University in 2015.

The father-of-two apologised for the “hurt and offence” he had caused and resigned from positions at More in Common and the Jo Cox Foundation.

Mrs Cox, an MP from the UK’s Labour Party, was fatally shot and stabbed in June 2016 by far-right extremist Thomas Mair in the run up to the Brexit referendum.

Her sister, Kim Leadbeater said on Sunday that the family would stand by Mr Cox in the wake of the allegations.

"As a family we will support Brendan 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,” Ms Leadbeater said in a statement.

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

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The claims at Save the Children relate to an incident in 2015 when it was alleged that Mr Cox sexually harassed one of his colleagues outside a bar in London. The 39-year-old admitted he had “made mistakes” but said the claims were exaggerated.

Mr Cox was reported to police in Massachusetts, US, following a report he had inappropriately touched a woman.

"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," he said in a statement released on Saturday.

He added: “I want to apologise deeply and unreservedly for my past behaviour and for the hurt and offence that I have caused. In the aftermath of Jo’s murder, I promised that I would dedicate my life to two things, firstly loving and protecting our children and secondly fighting the hatred that killed Jo.

“In the last few days allegations from several years ago have resurfaced that makes concentrating on both of those tasks much more difficult. For that reason, while away over half-term, I decided to step down from my current public roles for the time being.”

Mr Cox told the Mail on Sunday, who reported in 2015 that he had stepped down from his role as chief strategist at Save the Children over inappropriate behaviour allegations, said there had been instances where his conduct had made people feel uncomfortable.

“Certainly, I had too much to drink at times,” he told the paper. "I probably behaved in a way I thought was sort of jokey, or flirtatious. I often wasn't being serious, but that was perceived differently by others."

Mr Cox’s resignation comes as charities face increased scrutiny in the wake of the Oxfam Haiti scandal.