MSP Lennon reveals sexual assault ordeal Politician was‘groped’at function
Stefanie Mccourt A former Hamilton councillor has revealed that she was sexually assaulted at a Labour Party social event.
Monica Lennon, now a Central Scotland MSP for Labour, says she was assaulted by a senior male colleague at a party four years ago.
The 36-year-old was a councillor at the time of the assault and in the early stages of a career which would see her elected to Holyrood in 2016.
Ms Lennon said that, having made an initial complaint to the Scottish Labour Party, she decided not to progress it because she felt she would not be believed.
She told our sister paper the Sunday Mail: “It was a private function, a room full of people. A man, who was a senior figure in the party, touched me in a manner that some would say is ‘handsy’. He was sitting next to me when he groped me, in full view of other people.
“In the past few weeks, I have heard the word ‘handsy’ being used a lot but really this is just a euphemism for a sexual assault.
“I don’t want to go into the full details but he touched my body, in an intimate way, without invitation or permission. This shouldn’t happen to anyone.”
She continued: “A few days later, I ran into another man who had seen what happened and he made a jokey reference to it.
“The underlying message was clear – the whole thing was to be treated as a joke.
“I felt disappointed, hurt, embarrassed and let down. The man who did it was older and had been in the party for decades. He was powerful, influential and well-respected.
“I confided in my family and closest friends but it did not cross my mind to go to the police.”
Ms Lennon said she contacted Scottish Labour, but declined to make an official written complaint.
She said: “His friends were already framing me as a troublemaker. I got no sense that he in any way understood what he had done, the seriousness of it.
“We need to understand that there is a whole spectrum of sexism and sexual harassment. It can be verbal, it can be sexual assault, including rape; all of it is serious and has to be dealt with properly.”
The incident was eventually referred to the police by a witness who had seen it take place.
Ms Lennon was contacted by an officer several years later. But she was dissatisfied by aspects of the investigation and frustrated at the fact that a third party had reported it without telling her. She added: “What experienced has
Itaught me never to be sorry, never to apologise for speaking out on issues of gender equality.
“Every personal experience shapes your outlook and this has given me more motivation to be determined in speaking out on these issues.”
He was sitting next to me when he groped me, in full view of other people