MPs Embroiled in Sexual Harassment Scandal

Amy Billington - Politics Editor

Sexual assault and harassment has been the news of the month. Starting with the Harvey Weinstein revelations, where over 50 women, including Lena Headey, Angelina Jolie, Lupita Nyong’o and Cara Delevingne accused Hollywood director Weinstein of sexual assault.

The news of his unchallenged behaviour, which appears to have been an open secret for many years, has led to a wider conversation around the issue.

The #MeToo campaign on Twitter has gone viral, with many people, especially women, sharing their stories around sexual harassment and assault.

Twitter and Hollywood weren’t the only places home truths were shared this past few weeks – Westminster has found itself embroiled in a scandal involving several MPs inappropriate behaviour towards fellow MPs and staff amongst others.

The most notable MP being Conservative Stephen Crabb, former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, who has made an apology as it was revealed he had sent explicit texts to a 19-year-old woman who he had interviewed for a job in his office.

Crabb stated: “I accept any kind of sexual chatter like this is totally wrong and I am sorry for my actions.” Many are now calling on Crabb to have the whip removed, as has happened with Labour MP Jared O’Mara after homophobic and sexist comments he had made in the past came to light.

The Times revealed that Crabb’s party leader, Theresa May, has been made aware of the so-called “sexual indiscretions” weekly by Conservative chief whip Gavin Williamson, but has continued to allow those named in such “sexual indiscretions”, or other misbehaviour such as drug taking, to serve in her cabinet.

There have also been allegations about Labour MPs – but none have been named as of yet. Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has spoken out against perpetrators of sexual assault and the more widespread culture that allows the continuation of this kind of behaviour, saying:

“Sexual harassment is not of course confined to Hollywood. Misogyny and sexism are widespread problems across society. It exists and thrives in the corridors of power, including in Westminster.”

Conservative Equalities minister Justine Greening also commented on the situation, saying: “There is no place in Westminster for this kind of behaviour.

“Women who experience it should be coming forward to be clear about what has happened to them.” She has joined other voices calling for the stamping out of this behaviour.

The Prime Minster, Theresa May has written to speaker John Bercow and other party leaders, writing “I believe that we must establish a House-wide mediation service complemented by a contractually binding grievance procedure available for all MPs irrespective of their party banner,” in order to tackle the issue of sexual harassment.

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