Labour activist claims party official told her making rape allegation would harm her career
A Labour activist who claims she was raped by a party official has said she was encouraged not to report the incident because it could harm her career.
Bex Bailey, a former member of the party's ruling National Executive Committee, told the BBC she was attacked by a senior Labour figure at an event in 2011 when she was 19 years old.
Ms Bailey said it took her two years to "summon up the courage" to tell someone in the party about her ordeal.
The claim comes after allegations of sexual misconduct in parliament engulfed Westminster.
Speaking to Radio Four's PM programme, Ms Bailey said: "I told a senior member staff who told me – it was suggested to me that I not report it. I was told that if I did it might damage me and that might be their genuine view. It might be that that was the case, in which case that shows that we have a serious problem in politics."
Ms Bailey said she did not report the attack to the police because she felt "scared and ashamed".
"I know that the Labour party, like any family, loves a good gossip and I didn’t want people to know, and I also was worried that I wouldn’t be believed if I did," she said.
"It was something that, at first, I tried to just pretend hadn’t happened and just sort of shut away. But it was only a couple of years later when I had summoned up the courage to do it that I did say to someone what had happened, and just wasn’t given the support that I needed."
She said reporting it to the Labour official was "quite a cold, horrible experience" and called for the party to improve its systems for handling such complaints.
Ms Bailey added: "We need an independent agency that people can report these issues to, as opposed to members of party staff so that they feel confident that they can report these difficult issues without feeling that they will be penalised.
"You’re talking about a charity or body that is contracted to the Labour party to provide these services so that you as a woman, trying to report this can contact them and say what you’ve experienced and know that you’ll be believed, know that you’ll be looked after importantly, and also they will be able to discuss with you whether you should take it to the police and whether, if you do decide not to do that, the route that you can go down with the party."
A Labour spokesman said: "The Labour party takes these allegations extremely seriously. It takes great courage for victims of rape to come forward - and all support must and will be made available to them. We would strongly recommend that the police investigate the allegations of criminal actions that Bex Bailey has made.
"Labour will also launch an independent investigation into claims that a party employee acted improperly over these 2011 allegations."