THE woman who has accused Hartlepool Labour candidate Mike Hill of sexual assault spoke out for the first time last night after party leader Jeremy Corbyn was seen with his arm around the would-be MP.

In her first ever media interview, the woman told The Northern Echo that she wanted people voting in Hartlepool to know that she had not dropped her complaint against Mr Hill, and he had not been exonerated, as some people believe.

Mr Corbyn was seen with his arm around Mr Hill on a stage in Middlesbrough yesterday as he visited the North-East on a whistle-stop tour of the country on the eve of the election, something seen by Labour insiders as a disastrous lapse of judgement.

Mr Hill has "completely rejected" the allegations. But The Northern Echo has learned that he has tried to stop his name being revealed as part of legal proceedings being brought by the woman in the New Year. A decision is pending on the matter.

The woman has also complained about one of Mr Corbyn’s inner circle, whom she said advised her not to make it an issue, because "a lot of complaints go into the Labour Party, and nothing was ever done about them".

However the woman went ahead and a complaint about alleged sexual assault, harassment and victimisation was lodged earlier this year both with Labour and with Parliament’s Independent Complaints and Grievance Process (ICGS). The woman also said she reported the matter to the Metropolitan Police in London.

Mr Hill was suspended from the party, had the Labour whip withdrawn, and was standing as an independent MP while the inquiry was ongoing.

The woman then asked the Labour Party to "park" the complaint until the ICGS investigation was complete, as she had "lost faith" in the process when details of her complaint were leaked to the national press.

Mr Hill then had the whip restored while suggesting publicly that the allegation had been withdrawn.

However, the woman said she had never withdrawn the complaint and had just asked it to be on hold while the ICGS inquiry was ongoing.

Speaking to The Northern Echo last night, the woman said: “People in Hartlepool voting have a right to know that this allegation has not been dropped.

“The ICGS investigation is going full speed ahead. Hartlepool voters seem to be under the impression at the moment that these very serious allegations, nothing has come of them, that Mike Hill has been exonerated, but that is absolutely not the case.

“The Labour Party should not have reinstated him until this was investigated fully. They are protecting him. They have handled it so badly and completely misconstrued what I said.

“I am really upset that everyone seems to be protecting him. To know that Jeremy Corbyn had his arm around him today.

“At the end of the day the law says you are innocent until proven guilty, but people are making a decision based on someone’s character and their conduct and I think they have a right to know there is a complaint outstanding.”

The Labour Party declined to comment yesterday but has previously said it takes all complaints of sexual harassment extremely seriously and fully investigates.

The Northern Echo understands that Labour denied it had formally closed the complaint but had lifted the suspension due to the fact the inquiry had been paused.

Mr Hill was elected the MP for Hartlepool in 2017 and is standing again in 2019.