Labour staffers demand action from Jeremy Corbyn over sexual harassment claims against top aide
More than one hundred current and former Labour staff members have urged Jeremy Corbyn to take action following sexual harassment claims made against one of his senior aides.
They called on the leader to probe "extremely concerning" allegations concerning David Prescott, the son of Labour grandee Lord Prescott and the press and events manager for Mr Corbyn's office.
The Sunday Times reported that a female Labour MP told Mr Corbyn and his chief of staff Karie Murphy in a meeting last year that Mr Prescott had made "unwarranted sexual advances" toward her and had been "forceful", "rude" and "aggressive” to two female students.
Mr Prescott was suspended from his job last November while an investigation was carried out, but returned to work two weeks later.
Leaked emails suggested that while Labour officials were ready to suspend his party membership as well, Ms Murphy disagreed because no written complaint had been made.
The new letter, signed by 101 Labour staff members either currently or formerly working for MPs, MEPs and the party, demands "urgent clarification" over the claim that "senior party staff decided not to take sufficient action against Mr Prescott".
"Clarity, consistency and transparency must be put at the forefront of the complaints process so that all sides feel confident that investigations will be conducted free from political interference," the signatories say.
"The perception can no longer be that your connections within the party will determine whether complaints against you will be pursued or not."
They add: "We want to see Labour in government, but we need to get our house in order first. We should, and can, lead the way in challenging and eradicating sexual harassment and bullying in work environments. The decision to write this letter does not come easily, but believing in a political party sometimes means having to ask uncomfortable questions."
They point out that Labour "prides itself" on "campaigning for the complete eradication of sexual misconduct in all parts of society - unequivocally and without exception" - and say party staff "choose to give up our personal lives for Labour because we believe it is the best force for good in our country".
The letter adds: "What makes the job even more challenging than it should be is having to work in an environment where sexual harassment and bullying are not taken seriously."
A Labour spokesperson said: "The Labour Party takes all complaints of sexual harassment extremely seriously. In this case, no formal complaint was received to investigate.
"We do not comment on individual staffing matters. As an employer, the Labour party takes disciplinary and grievance matters extremely seriously and follows protocol as directed by the ACAS Code of Practice.”
Party sources insisted the MP was encouraged by Mr Corbyn's office to lodge a formal complaint, but she chose not to do so.