Bri­tish Tories in sex-abuse spot­light

‘Spread­sheet of shame’ pub­lished

Montreal Gazette - - NAVIGATOR - DAN­ICA KIRKA

LON­DON • Bri­tain’s par­lia­ment was grap­pling with the is­sue of sex­ual ha­rass­ment Mon­day af­ter the re­lease of a “spread­sheet of shame” that tar­geted law­mak­ers.

The Guido Fawkes po­lit­i­cal web­site on Mon­day claimed that Con­ser­va­tive Party aides had com­piled a spread­sheet iden­ti­fy­ing 36 party law­mak­ers, in­clud­ing two serv­ing cabi­net mem­bers, ac­cused of in­ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­iour. The web­site blacked out the names of the ac­cused.

The rev­e­la­tions come as Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May has al­ready asked of­fi­cials for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the con­duct of Mark Garnier, the In­ter­na­tional Trade Min­is­ter, who ad­mit­ted call­ing his sec­re­tary “sugar t---” and send­ing her to buy sex toys for him.

Another se­nior Con­ser­va­tive, for­mer cabi­net min­is­ter Stephen Crabb, has ad­mit­ted send­ing “ex­plicit” mes­sages to a 19-year-old woman af­ter he in­ter­viewed her for a job.

And En­vi­ron­ment Sec­re­tary Michael Gove was forced to apol­o­gize for at­tempt­ing to make light of the We­in­stein scan­dal dur­ing a ra­dio in­ter­view.

A se­ries of lurid al­le­ga­tions have also sur­faced in­volv­ing seven other un­named Tories, prompt­ing fears in the Con­ser­va­tive Party that the gov­ern­ment could be desta­bi­lized if the scan­dal grows.

The leader of Bri­tain’s House of Com­mons said Mon­day there should be “zero tol­er­ance” for in­ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­iour in par­lia­ment.

An­drea Lead­som told the cham­ber there was no place for ha­rass­ment or mis­con­duct in pol­i­tics as she out­lined steps to re­pair a griev­ance sys­tem that she de­scribed as “in­ad­e­quate.”

“Our con­stituents will be rightly ap­palled at the thought that some rep­re­sen­ta­tives in par­lia­ment may have acted in an en­tirely in­ap­pro­pri­ate way to­wards oth­ers,” Lead­som said. “Th­ese re­ports risk bring­ing all of our of­fices into dis­re­pute.” “Th­ese plans will en­sure that par­lia­ment takes a zero-tol­er­ance ap­proach,” she added.

Bri­tain’s po­lit­i­cal es­tab­lish­ment has come un­der in­creas­ing scru­tiny as the scan­dal sur­round­ing Hol­ly­wood mogul Har­vey We­in­stein em­bold­ens peo­ple in many in­dus­tries to speak up about sex­ual ha­rass­ment at the hands of pow­er­ful in­di­vid­u­als who con­trol their fu­ture job prospects. In the House of Com­mons, law­mak­ers em­ploy their staff, leav­ing lit­tle di­rect re­course for those who feel ag­grieved.

Three Labour MPs and an MP rep­re­sent­ing another party have also been ac­cused of ha­rass­ment. Labour sus­pended MP Jared O’Mara last week over a litany of misog­y­nis­tic be­hav­iour.

Labour MPs fac­ing ha­rass­ment al­le­ga­tions in­clude one who was sent home from a for­eign trip for mak­ing “in­ap­pro­pri­ate” ap­proaches to a young woman and an MP who is nick­named “happy hands” by fe­male staff.

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