Abusive MPs ‘must be held to account’

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Media captionJeremy Corbyn said the abuse of women had been “normalised” in society

MPs who abuse or sexually harass women “must be held to account”, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said.

Mr Corbyn spoke out against “a culture where the abuse of women has often been accepted and normalised,” including at Westminster.

Conservative MP Justine Greening said anyone who felt they had been sexually harassed should contact the police.

Mr Corbyn has also rejected claims he was too slow to suspend a Labour MP for misogynistic and homophobic comments.

On Wednesday, Sheffield Hallam MP Jared O’Mara was suspended by Labour while the party investigated online remarks he made from 2002 to 2004.

Labour had initially said it would not be suspending the MP while the allegations were investigated.

It comes as Downing Street described allegations of sexual harassment in politics as “deeply concerning”.

‘Warped’ culture

In a speech at the Unite union’s Scottish policy conference, Mr Corbyn said in the wake of allegations about movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, the issue of sexual harassment was not one confined to Hollywood.

“As the leader of the Labour Party, I want to make it absolutely clear that our party will not tolerate any form of discrimination or harassment,” he said.

He encouraged any women who had been abused or harassed by MPs to speak out, adding that the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) had adopted new “robust” procedures to deal with the issue in July.

The party had established a sexual harassment hotline for any party members, he said, but added that “more must be done”.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Jeremy Corbyn was addressing the Unite union’s Scottish policy conference, in Aviemore

Misogyny and sexism were “widespread problems across society,” he said.

“Sexual abuse and abusive treatment of women by men is not confined to any one industry, workplace or institution.

“The problem doesn’t stop with those who make unwanted advances on women.

“It’s a warped and degrading culture that also exists and thrives in the corridors of power, including in Westminster.”

‘Long overdue’

His speech comes amid reports that female researchers and aides in Parliament have been using a WhatsApp group to share information about alleged abusive behaviour by MPs from both the main parties.

And on Saturday, the Times reported that four male MPs, including a minister, have been accused of harassing or propositioning young women inappropriately.

Ms Greening, the Women and Equalities minister, said: “There’s no place in Westminster for any of this kind of behaviour.

“Woman who have experienced it should be coming forward to be clear about what’s happened to them. It’s now long overdue that we stamp this sort of behaviour out.”

The prime minister’s official spokeswoman said any report of sexual harassment were “deeply concerning” and urged anyone with information to contact the authorities.

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