Labour appoint Rape Crisis to support sexual harassment victims

Posted On: 
12th January 2018

Labour has brought in the charity Rape Crisis to help victims affected by sexual harassment in the party.

Labour has appointed the charity to help investigate sexual harassment allegations
Credit: 
PA Images

The organisation will offer “confidential advice and support” to those who say they have been harassed or assaulted amid criticism of internal procedures as the Westminster sex scandal broke.

Among the new plans is a “completely independent” support line, operated by specially trained staff, for reporting cases of harassment.

Those making such claims will also get support from a named member of Rape Crisis staff for the duration of the complaints process.

And an independent audit of Labour’s internal procedures from the point of view of someone who is making a complaint will be launched to ensure the system is “suitable and effective”.

The party is today due to rule on whether to refer suspended backbencher Kelvin Hopkins to the national constitutional committee, following a probe into allegations he “rubbed his crotch” against a young activist and gave “unwanted attention” to fellow MP Kerry McCarthy.

And it comes months after an activist claimed she was raped by a party official, but said she was encouraged not to report the incident because it could harm her career.

Bex Bailey, a former NEC member, who says she was attacked by a senior Labour figure at an event in 2011 when she was 19 years old, welcomed the latest move as “an important step forward”.

“But Labour, as the party of equality, should be the very best and there is more to do,” she added.

“This announcement covers the very start of the complaints process but there is still a question about what happens once the complaint reaches the party.

“The next step needs to be independence at every stage of the process, so that all bias and internal politics is removed."

‘CONFIDENTIAL, UNBIASED AND EMPATHIC’

A Labour Party spokesperson said: “The Labour Party takes all complaints of sexual harassment extremely seriously.

“We understand that for those who have experienced sexual harassment, coming forward is a big step that is often extremely difficult, which is why we have appointed Rape Crisis to provide independent advice and support to anyone affected by sexual harassment.”

Yvonne Traynor, CEO of Rape Crisis South London, said the organisation is “happy” to be able to support harassment victims within the Labour party.

"We feel that it is important that, we, as an independent organisation provide a confidential, unbiased and empathic response to survivors to ensure they receive the help that they deserve,” she said.