Andrea Leadsom said making staff feel ‘uncomfortable’ could be enough to count as breaching rules
Andrea Leadsom said making staff feel “uncomfortable” could be enough to count as breaching rules on acceptable behaviour in the workplace.
“I am setting the bar significantly below criminal activity,” the Leader of the Commons told MPs.
“If people are made to feel uncomfortable, then that is not correct.
“In terms of consequences, I have been perfectly clear. In the case of staff, they could forfeit their jobs. In the case of MPs they could have the whip withdrawn and they could be fired from ministerial office.”
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In terms of consequences, I have been perfectly clear. In the case of staff, they could forfeit their jobs
Ms Leadsom said measures to tackle allegations of sexual harassment in Parliament must be introduced “in days”.
She admitted the grievance procedures for thousands of staff working for MPs and peers were “inadequate”.
She pledged a new “House-wide mediation service” and a support team that was able to investigate allegations of abuse and recommend police action.
“It is a right, not a privilege, to work in a safe and respectful environment,” she said.
Ms Leadsom said measures to tackle sexual harassment allegations must be introduced ‘in days’
“These plans will ensure that Parliament takes a zero-tolerance approach. Parliament must take action in days, not weeks.”
According to one report, Tory aides had compiled a list of 36 of the party’s MPs, including 20 ministers, accused of inappropriate behaviour – including groping, unwanted sexual advances and lewd language.
A computer spreadsheet of the allegations was reported by the political news website Guido Fawkes, including claims of a minister who was “handsy with women at parties”, an MP who had “sexual relations with a researcher” and another MP who was “perpetually intoxicated and very inappropriate with women”.
It followed claims over the weekend of a separate list of 13 MPs facing harassment allegations.
Mark Garnier admitted asking his secretary to buy sex toys
Tory former minister Anna Soubry said any new grievance procedure must protect “all workers in the Palace of Westminster”, not just MPs’ staff.
Many MPs were “fed up to the back teeth with the level of misogynistic abuse” they face, she added.
Junior trade minister Mark Garnier’s political career was understood to be hanging in the balance after he admitted asking his secretary to buy sex toys and addressing her in demeaning language.
Theresa May’s spokesman yesterday declined to express “full confidence” in Mr Garnier.