Storm as poll­sters ask MP staff whether their bosses need ‘sex con­sent’ train­ing

Sunday Mirror - - FRONT PAGE - BY NIGEL NEL­SON Po­lit­i­cal Ed­i­tor

RE­SPECTED poll­sters ComRes were slammed for ask­ing MPs’ staff if their bosses need spe­cial train­ing in ob­tain­ing con­sent for sex.

It is one of the ques­tions in a sex­ual ha­rass­ment sur­vey sent out on Fri­day to those who work for MPs or peers at West­min­ster.

Work­ers in con­stituency of­fices have also been con­tacted.

But a row blew up yes­ter­day as staff thought the ques­tions were an of­fi­cial Par­lia­men­tary sur­vey.

ComRes chair­man An­drew Hawkins, who sent the on­line ques­tions, ad­mit­ted: “There’s no client. We’re do­ing this off our own bat. We’re not stir­ring the pot.

CROSS

“We’re try­ing to get at the truth. Some of the data will be pub­lished.”

But one hor­ri­fied staffer said: “I as­sumed this was for the House. I wouldn’t have com­pleted it if I had known. I’m re­ally cross about it.

“And now I’m wor­ried about how ComRes in­tend to use my data.”

Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May and Labour and Lib Dem coun­ter­parts Jeremy Cor­byn and Vince Cable will also be fu­ri­ous be­cause the study will re­veal which party has the most sex abuse allegations.

Staff are told their replies will be “strictly anony­mous” and Mr Hawkins warns: “This sur­vey in­cludes ques­tions con­cern­ing sex­ual ha­rass­ment.”

Em­ploy­ees are asked if they agree or dis­agree with the state­ment: “I would fear for my job if I re­ported sex­ual ha­rass­ment by my boss.”

They are asked if they be­lieve it to be “rife” at West­min­ster.

And one ques­tion asks whether they would sup­port “mak­ing avail­able to peo­ple work­ing in the Com­mons, in­clud­ing MPs, train­ing on the mean­ing of con­sent”.

The ComRes email asked staff if they feel “over­worked, ex­cited, hum­bled, priv­i­leged, un­der­paid, ex­ploited, un­der­val­ued or happy”.

One ques­tion said: “Have you per­son­ally ex­pe­ri­enced sex­ual ha­rass­ment in your cur­rent job?”

An­other asked whether the prob­lem “needs ur­gently to be tack­led” and whether em­ploy­ment prac­tices need chang­ing.

The choices are the ap­point­ment of “an in­de­pen­dent HR sup­port per­son to whom staff can re­port abuse” or “an in­de­pen­dent griev­ance process”.

This has been one of the burn­ing is­sues since the sex ha­rass­ment scan­dal be­gan three weeks ago.

MPs are self-em­ployed and their staff work di­rectly for them, not the House of Com­mons.

A Com­mons spokes­woman said: “The ComRes sur­vey was not com­mis­sioned by Par­lia­ment.”

Mean­while, MP An­drew Brid­gen has put a third com­plaint in to au­thor­i­ties about a fel­low Tory – in re­la­tion to al­leged be­hav­iour be­fore the man be­came an MP.

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