Labour MP Clive Lewis has “completely” denied an allegation that he groped a woman at the party’s annual conference.The Labour Party is investigating after a formal complaint was made against the Norwich South MP on Friday.The former shadow defence secretary is alleged by the woman to have hugged her and squeezed her bottom at a conference event in Brighton in September.Meanwhile, suspended Labour MP Kelvin Hopkins said he “categorically” denies claims of sexual harassment.It comes as both Labour and the Conservatives set out measures to deal with sexual harassment following numerous allegations about the conduct of politicians in recent weeks. This week Sir Michael Fallon resigned as defence secretary, saying his behaviour may have “fallen short” of the standards expected by the UK military. On Friday the Conservatives suspended MP Charlie Elphicke after “serious allegations” were referred to the police, but the party has provided no further detail about the nature of the claims. ‘Taken aback’The Labour Party launched its investigation into Mr Lewis after a party member told the Independent newspaper that he had groped her.Mr Lewis told the BBC he was “vigorously” disputing the allegation, which he said he had been “pretty taken aback” by.”I don’t as a rule at packed Labour party conferences grope people’s bottoms when I greet them,” he said. “It’s just not how I roll, it’s not what I do.”Is the person mistaken? Have I given them a hug and this has been misinterpreted? I don’t know.”All I know is that I would not deliberately do that, do what’s alleged. I completely deny that.”
Luton North MP Mr Hopkins has also denied sexual harassment after party activist Ava Etemadzadeh, 27, told the BBC that he had hugged her inappropriately after a student event in 2014.Mr Hopkins said he had given her a “brief, slight hug just before getting into my car”.He was suspended by the party on Thursday while an investigation takes place.
Media playback is unsupported on your device
And Labour’s former foreign office minister, Ivan Lewis, has denied claims he made non-consensual sexual advances towards women. Buzzfeed News reported that a woman alleged he had touched her leg and invited her to his house at a Labour Party event in 2010 when she was 19. Mr Lewis said in a statement to the website that he had “never made non-consensual sexual comments or sexual advances to women”.He added: “However, 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.”
Prime Minister Theresa May is due to meet opposition party leaders, including Jeremy Corbyn, on Monday to discuss proposals to bring forward a new grievance system for Westminster staff and MPs.The Conservatives have published a new code of conduct for their MPs and other elected representatives in the wake of sexual harassment allegations.During an interview with BBC News about his resignation, Sir Michael said that the culture had changed over the years. “What might have been acceptable 15, 10 years ago, is clearly not acceptable now,” he said.
Media playback is unsupported on your device
Jasmin Beckett, a member of Labour’s national executive committee and its equalities committee, said: “We’ve got to be clear that sexual harassment was never acceptable. It was never fine.””I think that’s now why we are in a much better position to deal with this because actually society, and as we’ve seen Hollywood, knows that this type of behaviour is not acceptable. I hope that this whole scandal will make Westminster think that – I don’t think in the past that Westminster has seen this as unacceptable.” Meanwhile, it was announced that Labour would appoint an independent specialist organisation to offer advice and support to individuals affected by sexual harassment in the party. However, Ms Beckett told the BBC: “One of the things I’m calling for… is for us to re-look at that sexual harassment policy and to create an independent body for all future complaints as well.”Labour also said the independent legal expert, Karon Monaghan QC, would investigate party activist Bex Bailey’s allegations.Ms Bailey has said she was raped at a party event and a senior Labour official discouraged her from reporting the attack.She said she was told reporting the alleged 2011 incident could “damage” her and that she was given no advice on what she should do next.
Source: BBC Norfolk