Parliament pests face the axe, says Commons leader
ACCUSING The redacted spreadsheet has appeared on Guido Fawkes website MINISTERS who make staff feel uncomfortable face being sacked under a clampdown on Parliament’s sex pests, MPs have been warned.
Theresa May backed the moves for a tough stance as the Westminster sexual harassment scandal threatened to claim its first scalp.
International Trade Minister Mark Garnier, who admitted calling his secretary “sugar t*ts” and asking her to buy sex toys, was last night clinging on to his post.
The PM’s spokesman refused to say whether Mrs May had full confidence in him, insisting No10 did not want to pre-empt the Cabinet Office investigation.
Commons Speaker John Bercow insisted there must be “zero tolerance” of sex harassment in Parliament.
A list of 13 MPs facing allegations has been circulating at Westminster.
And the Guido Fawkes political blog claimed Tory aides had compiled a spreadsheet of 36 Conservative MPs, including 20 ministers, who are accused of inappropriate behaviour. A redacted version was posted on the Fawkes site.
Answering an urgent question as the crisis engulfed Westminster, Commons leader Andrea Leadsom told MPs: “I am setting the bar significantly below criminal activity. If people are made to feel uncomfortable, that is not correct.
“In terms of the consequence for the perpetrators, I’ve 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 In the case of MPs, they could have the whip withdrawn and they could be fired from ministerial office.”
Mrs Leadsom insisted action was needed “in days rather than weeks”.
Her speech came as women MPs from three parties highlighted recent abuse and harassment in Parliament.
Plaid Cymru’s Westminster leader Liz Saville-Roberts revealed she knew of a case where a woman employed by an MP “reported being sexually assaulted to the proper authorities earlier this year”. But the MP allegedly, “did nothing”.
Recently-elected Tory MP Rachel Maclean said her researcher had “highlighted some of the experiences she has had and I definitely find that shocking and unacceptable”.
Labour’s Chi Onwurah claimed harassment complaints made against MPs, for actions towards researchers in a notorious parliamentary drinking den, were dismissed as typical pub behaviour.
Mrs Leadsom pledged a crackdown on the bar, which is popular with Labour and Scottish nationalist MPs.
It has emerged David Cameron tried in 2014 to bring in a code of conduct to protect staff from harassment, which would have included the right to seek arbitration. But the move was blocked by the 1922 Committee of Tory backbench MPs, who saw it as a plot by party whips to impose control on MPs. CLINGING ON Trade Minister Mark Garnier TOUGH STANCE Andrea Leadsom
POWER & GORY Blood-stained Spacey in the TV political drama House of Cards