Clegg made aware of 'non specific concerns' over Rennard
Nick Clegg has admitted that his office was made aware of "indirect and non specific concerns" concerning Lord Rennard's treatment of women in 2008.
The Lib Dem leader said tonight he was "angry and outraged" at the suggestion that he had not followed up the allegations when they were put to him.
He had been attacked for his judgement, after questions emerged over his handling the affair.
"When indirect and non-specific concerns about Chris Rennard’s conduct reached my office in 2008, we acted to deal with them," he said in a statement.
"My Chief of Staff at the time, Danny Alexander, put these concerns to Chris Rennard and warned him that any such behaviour was wholly unacceptable. Chris Rennard categorically denied that he had behaved inappropriately and he continues to do so. He subsequently resigned as Chief Executive on health grounds."
He said: "I am angry and outraged at the suggestion that I would not have acted if these allegations had been put to me."
Tory MP Conor Burns launched a scathing attack against Mr Clegg this evening, telling Sky News the incident called his judgement into question.
“It’s a shambles isn’t it?" he said. "I mean, what did Nick Clegg know and when did he know it? And what did he decide to do with the information that was brought to him?
"If this is now so urgent and compelling that it commands the need for two inquiries, why didn’t it need two inquiries or even one inquiry when Nick Clegg was told some years ago? I think it asks grave questions about Nick Clegg’s competence and his judgement."
Labour has called for an independent investigation into the matter.
Vince Cable and Jeremy Browne said this morning they was unaware of the claims, which the peer denies.
"Absolutely not and Nick Clegg has also said that he wasn’t aware of these allegations until they were heard on television last week but they are serious and we take them very seriously," the Business Secretary told the Andrew Marr Show.
Home Office minister Mr Browne, who has known Lord Rennard over 20 years, said he had been "surprised" by the allegations.
But the Mail on Sunday reports one of the women behind the allegations emailing a friend in 2009 to say she was "very sad" that Mr Clegg knew of the claims and would not act.