- Ivan Lewis becomes the latest senior Labour figure to be suspended following sexual harassment allegations.
- The MP for Bury South was accused of repeatedly touching a woman’s leg and inviting back to her house when she was 19-years-old.
LONDON – The Labour Party has suspended MP Ivan Lewis and launched an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment made against him.
A woman has accused the MP for Bury South of repeatedly touching her leg at a fundraising event and inviting back to his home in 2010, when she was aged 19, BuzzFeed reported.
The woman confirmed last week that she had made an official complaint to the party. The BuzzFeed report added that several other women have reported feeling harassed by Lewis in the past.
Lewis, who served as International Development minister under former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, last month denied the 2010 allegation but accepted his behaviour to female colleagues in the past had been “unwelcome.”
In a statement given to BuzzFeed, Lewis said he had “good professional relationships and enduring friendships with virtually all my female colleagues.” However, he added:
“I understand that a few women have claimed that my behaviour made them feel uncomfortable. I have on occasion asked women I work with out for drinks or dinner, or developed strong feelings for them, and I am genuinely sorry if this was unwelcome or inappropriate in the circumstances, and caused anyone to feel awkward.”
The Labour MP has denied ever making “non-consensual sexual comments or sexual advances to women.”
It is not clear whether it is the 2010 allegation which has resulted in the party’s decision to suspend Lewis. He has also stepped down from his position as the joint lead for homelessness under Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham.
A Labour Party spokesperson said: “The Labour Party takes all allegations of sexual harassment extremely seriously. Ivan Lewis is currently suspended from the Labour Party pending an investigation.”
Other Labour figures accused
Lewis, who was also at one stage a member of Ed Miliband’s shadow cabinet, is the second Labour MP to be suspended following the emergence of sexual misconduct claims in Westminster.
Earlier this month Kelvin Hopkins MP was suspended following allegations that he sent inappropriate text messages to a young woman and rubbed himself up against her at a political event in 2013.
Jeremy Corbyn’s aide David Prescott has also been suspended from his role in the Labour leader’s office following undisclosed allegations.