No role for Rennard, Farron tells accuser
The party has come under renewed fire for reinstating Lord Rennard, exactly seven months after he was suspended following an investigation into claims he brought the party into disrepute for pestering women.
Vince Cable has come out in support of the decision not to remove the Liberal Democrat peer from the party saying there were no grounds to pursue expulsion although he did admit that the inquiry process had been ‘very difficult’ and ‘very painful’.
Labour said Nick Clegg had sent a “clear message to women voters” while former Lib Dem activist Susan Gaszczak, one of Rennard's accusers, claimed “the party democracy obviously has no moral compass”.
She told the Today programme this morning that the party had been guilty of "one fudge after another", and revealed that she had received a text message from party president Tim Farron assuring her that the peer would not be advising the party in the run-up to the general election.
"This is the final step and the reason why I resigned in July was that I saw this coming," she said.
"We’re considered to be credible and the party have done nothing about it. I would never take his ability to win elections away from him, he was a fantastic election strategist, and he just had a problem with wandering hands and trying to use his position of power."
Another accuser, Bridget Harris, told the World at One the party had "manifestly failed" to address the issue of harassment and said the Liberal Democrat grouping in the Lords would now have to decide whether to take the matter seriously.
"Even if technically his party membership has been suspended, what I would be interested to find out is whether the Lib Dem group in the House of Lords is prepared to accept him back in," she said.
"Now, if the culture of the party has really changed, then I think that they have to ask themselves whether it's acceptable for Lord Rennard to be a spokesperson or a member of the Lib Dem group in the House of Lords. And that's really a question that Nick Clegg still has to answer."
Lord Rennard apologised in May for invading the “personal space” of the women, after a party found credible evidence he had done so.
The inquiry concluded, however, that there was not sufficient evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt that he had sexually harassed the women.