MSP Len­non re­veals sex­ual as­sault or­deal Politi­cian was‘groped’at func­tion

Hamilton Advertiser - - POLITICS -

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

Con­cern

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