Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'SEX PEST' MPs TO KEEP ANONYMITY; ?Row over Plan Not to Name Members Facing Harassment and Bully claimsPanel to Investigate Claims as One in Five Commons Staff Say They Are Victims

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'SEX PEST' MPs TO KEEP ANONYMITY; ?Row over Plan Not to Name Members Facing Harassment and Bully claimsPanel to Investigate Claims as One in Five Commons Staff Say They Are Victims

Article excerpt

Byline: Kate Proctor and Joe Murphy

MPs accused of sexual harassment and bullying will get anonymity while under investigation in new plans drawn up by politicians themselves.

Although the crackdown includes proposals for MPs and peers found guilty to be ejected from Parliament, campaigners feared that keeping the identities of suspects secret would prevent key witnesses coming forward. Kate Maltby, the writer who made allegations against the former Cabinet minister Damian Green, which he denied, said: "I am pretty concerned about anonymity for those accused, particularly of sexual harassment... it is almost always the case that someone accused, plausibly, of sexual harassment is a serial offender, and that when one woman makes a complaint, others are finally emboldened to do so." Among key recommendations in the report, drawn up by a working group of MPs: MPs could face recall, forcing a by-election, while peers could be expelled under a new investigations and sanctions regime.

All new MPs would get compulsory training in Continued on Page 2 Continued from Page 1 ||how to behave appropriately with staff.

A new independent unit will probe allegations of bullying or harassment, free from interference by whips and political parties.

Parliament will appoint independent sexual violence advisers, to deal with complaints from staff or visitors.

The recommendations follow a stream of allegations of misconduct. A number of MPs remain under investigation by their parties, including two Labour MPs who are suspended and one Tory who has had the whip withdrawn pending investigation.

A survey of 1,377 parliamentary workers found that 19 per cent said they had experienced or witnessed sexual harassment or inappropriate behaviour over the past year. There were twice as many female complainants. …

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