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- Westminster engulfed in growing scandal as nearly 40 MPs, including Cabinet and former Cabinet ministers, are accused of inappropriate behaviour including sexual harassment. Dossier put together by Westminster researchers accuses MPs of sexual harassment, unwanted advances and extramarital sex with parliamentary staff. Theresa May and government whips were allegedly aware of allegations made against Conservative MPs. Four Labour MPs are also accused and the party fears more will emerge.
LONDON – Theresa May is under pressure to explain exactly when she knew about the scale of the growing sexual harassment scandal in Parliament after dozens of Tory MPs were engulfed in allegations of unwanted sexual advances and behaving inappropriately towards members of staff.
A group of Westminster researchers have put together a list of nearly 40 Conservative MPs, including several members of May’s Cabinet, who have had allegations made against them over the last five years, according to The Times.
The prime minister has been aware of the allegations, The Times claims, because government whips have been giving her weekly briefings on accusations made against her MPs by Westminster employees. May’s spokesperson will this morning face questions from journalists about exactly what the prime minister knew and when.
The scandal is expected to spread over the coming days with at least four Labour MPs also accused of harassing young women who work in Westminster, including two who have at some point served in leader Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow Cabinet.
May has written to the House of Commons Speaker, John Bercow, urging him to establish a mediation service for Westminster staff wanting to report the inappropriate behaviour of MPs, the Guardian reports.
The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority has recommended that a grievance procedure is incorporated in contracts of Westminster employees, providing them with a means of raising concerns and complaints.
However, MPs are technically self-employed, meaning they are not legally obliged to provide this outlet to their employees.
“It does not have the required teeth as contractually an MP does not have to follow the procedure. I do not believe this situation can be tolerated any longer,” the prime minister said in a letter to Bercow.
What are MPs accused of?
The dossier, seen by The Times, includes a long list of allegations against 37 serving male and female MPs, including sexual harassment and extramarital affairs. Those named in the list include:
- A long-serving Conservative backbencher accused of being “perpetually intoxicated and very inappropriate with women.” A Tory MP who is alleged to have agreed a “non-disclosure” settlement with another MP’s researcher. A current Cabinet minister who is accused of being “handsy at parties” and another minister who has allegedly been nicknamed “Cop-a-feel.”
Other allegations include two MPs accused of getting their mistresses pregnant and two Tory MPs accused of using prostitutes. A well-known female MP is alleged to have had affairs with young male researchers. There is also a video in circulation of a Conservative backbencher engaged in an “extreme sex act” with three men, the dossier alleges.
The Guardian reports that rumours are spreading of one Conservative MP who “allegedly takes pictures of young men in compromising positions and uses them to extract sexual favours.”
The allegations include mainly Conservative politicians but Labour MPs believe more will emerge within their party.
“We’re not going to be immune from it,” Labour MP Lucy Powell said. “It’s the attitudes and the power inequalities, whether it’s Hollywood, the BBC or Westminster.”
Westminster figures believe the allegations, plus more that may emerge in the coming days and weeks, could trigger several high-profile resignations and possibly bring the government down.
What MPs have been named?
Two Conservative MPs named in the dossier have already admitted to allegations made against them.
Trade minister Mark Garnier is facing a parliamentary investigation after admitting to asking one his assistants to purchase sex toys for him.
Stephen Crabb, the former work and pensions secretary, apologised over the weekend after admitting sending inappropriate text messages to a 19-year-old woman who had hoped to work in his office. Crabb described the messages as “sexual chatter.” Crabb was forced to quit his Cabinet position last year after it emerged that he sent explicit messages to a young woman during the EU referendum campaign.