Westminster aide says she was sexually assaulted by MP on foreign trip

Posted On: 
31st October 2017

A female staffer at Westminster has told how she was let down by parliamentary authorities after being attacked by an MP on a foreign trip.

Westminster is at the centre of allegations over sexual harassment.
Credit: 
PA Images

The woman, whose identity has been withheld, told The Guardian that she was pinned to a bed in a hotel room before finally managing to get free.

She tried to report the incident when she returned to the UK, but said the response to her allegations was "inadequate".

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The aide also said Theresa May's attempts to toughen up the parliamentary procedures for dealing with sex assault claims - demanded in the wake of numerous allegations at Westminster in recent days - does not go far enough.

The woman said she was left alone with the MP in a hotel bar when he asked her to come to his room while he packed for the flight home.

She said: "I honestly didn’t think anything of it. I thought we had a very professional relationship. There had been no indication of any flirting or anything at all.

"But when I got to his hotel room, he said: ‘Come and sit on the bed’ which made me feel uncomfortable, so I didn’t and I was standing near the door. But he was quite insistent, so tried to brush it off, saying: ‘Come on pack your bags and we’ll go and meet everybody.’

"At which point, he basically pulled me on to the bed and pushed me back, and tried to kiss me. I very clearly said: ‘No, this is not what I want.’ He held me by my shoulders and pushed me back again. On the third time, I managed to push him off again and basically ran out the room.

"Initially I was just really shocked and I didn’t expect it but I was quite quickly scared because I knew I was in a vulnerable situation"

Back in the UK, the police said they could not investigate as the incident happened abroad. The woman said the parliamentary commissioner for standards, Kathryn Hudson, said MPs could not be investigated for their "purely private and personal lives".

Attempts to get Commons officials and her party to pursue the matter also failed, she said.

The woman, who works for another MP, added: "Some of the people who knew what happened to me are now being tasked with fixing this broken system and those are the very people who in my opinion at best turned a blind eye and at worst actively covered it up..

"To put the responsibility on senior politicians to fix this is inadequate and not going to work. It’s inappropriate and I have very little faith or trust that they are suddenly going to have the victims’ interests at heart. It is all about self-protection."

A spokeswoman for parliament’s standards commissioner said: “While the commissioner takes all such allegations seriously, generally allegations of sexual harassment are outside the commissioner’s remit and she has no power to act on them."

A Commons spokesman said: "The house is limited in its ability to intervene in employment matters, such as allegations of bullying or harassment by MPs of their staff as MPs are self-employed and employ their staff directly.

"We provide HR advice to MPs through the members’ HR advice service, who also promote good employment practices. A free confidential helpline is provided by the House of Commons and available 24/7 for all members’ staff."