Simon Danczuk, the MP for Rochdale, has been banned by Labour from standing as the party’s candidate in the general election, the Guardian has learned.
The controversial MP was suspended from the party in 2015, pending an investigation, after a tabloid newspaper revealed he had sent explicit messages to a 17-year-old girl.
He remains suspended by the party but was informed on Monday that he would no longer be allowed to defend a majority of more than 12,000 in his home town.
The disclosure has sparked speculation in the constituency and within the party that an ally of Jeremy Corbyn, his political secretary Katy Clark, could be asked to stand.
Sources close to Danczuk have previously said he would stand as an independent if he was kicked out of the party. Sources close to him said he was consulting solicitors over a possible legal challenge to the decision.
Labour officials fear that if he stands as an independent, the former councillor would still carry some personal support and would split Labour’s vote in the Lancashire seat.
Danczuk’s nearest rival at the 2015 election was a Ukip candidate who won 8,519 votes, closely followed by a Conservative with 7,742 votes.
A Labour party spokesperson confirmed the decision. “After considering the case of Simon Danczuk in detail and speaking to him in an interview, the Labour party’s NEC endorsement panel today unanimously recommended that he should not be endorsed as a Labour candidate,” he said. “He will not be able to stand as a Labour candidate in any constituency at the general election.”
Danczuk, 50, has a reputation as an outspoken MP and supporter of Tony Blair who successfully raised issues of institutionalised child abuse by MPs.
A friend of Danczuk said he was seeking advice over the decision. He pointed out that Danczuk has previously been named as campaigner of the year in parliament.
“Simon doesn’t blame anyone else for this,” the friend said. “It’s his responsibility, but the Labour party have handled it terribly.
“He’s been suspended for nearly one and a half years and they’ve not even got round to listening to his version of events yet. There’s a culture of incompetence in the party nowadays that’s affecting everything they do.
“It was obvious that Simon was having a breakdown as his personal life spiralled out of control and the party should have reached out, instead of just isolating him.”
The friend said Danczuk would be the first to admit he had made silly mistakes. “But let’s not forget it wasn’t long ago that he was forcing Tory ministers to stand up in the House of Commons and issue grovelling apologies, he was briefing Theresa May on why she needed to launch an independent child abuse inquiry and he was getting corrupt politicians jailed in Sri Lanka for killing his constituent.”
The MP has previously said the texts to the teenager had been sent at “an extremely low point” in his life, but the exposé has been followed by a series of scandals, including his arrest in Spain after an alleged row with his estranged wife, Karen.
He also admitted being paid for pictures of his private life sold by a photo agency to tabloids, but said the deal had been above board.
Clark, who was the MP for North Ayrshire and Arran before losing out to the SNP in 2015, is now a close adviser to Corbyn and a powerful figure in his office.
Last week, she withdrew her bid to fight the election for Labour in Andy Burnham’s former constituency of Leigh in Lancashire after facing fierce opposition from local party members.
Party sources claimed she would now be asked to stand in Rochdale. A party spokesman declined to confirm or deny the claims. “We are offering no running commentary on selections,” he said.
NEC members are due to meet on 3 May to approve all the candidates selected for the 630 seats the party will contest across the UK, including sitting MPs. Labour officials from party headquarters have told local Rochdale members that an official decision will be announced after the meeting on 3 May. The deadline for Labour’s candidate nominations is 5 May.