Economy

Minister calls for new team to handle Westminster sex claims

Minister calls for new team to handle Westminster sex claims”

The Government will update MPs later on its response to Westminster's growing sexual harassment scandal following a weekend of lurid allegations.

May posted a copy of her letter to John Bercow, the speaker of parliament's elected house, the Commons, arguing that a current voluntary code of conduct for lawmakers was "not fit for its intended goal".

This comes in the wake of a number of sexual harassment allegations made against a list of 13 MPs, which has reportedly been circulating in Westminster.

His comments came as a Cabinet Office investigation got under way into alleged misconduct by global trade minister Mark Garnier, who is reported to have asked his Commons secretary to buy sex toys and called her "sugar tits".

A Downing Street spokesman repeatedly dodged questions about whether the Prime Minister had full confidence in Garnier, saying he would not "pre-empt" the findings of the investigation.

On top of this, Guido Fawkes has published a spreadsheet compiled by Tory aides that lists 36 serving sex pest MPs - although the names have been redacted.

"I believe that we must establish a house-wide mediation service complemented by a contractually binding grievance procedure available for all MPs irrespective of their party banner", May said in her letter.

Setting out details of the plan in the Commons with the Prime Minister by her side, Leader of the House Andrea Leadsom said that a recent spate of allegations against MPs showed current arrangements were "inadequate" and action was needed in "days rather than weeks".

But Sophie Walker, leader of the Women's Equality Party, told Sky News that simply getting more people to come forward will not fix the problem.

But he stressed that she took the matter very seriously.

Labour's Lucy Powell said the PM was "too weak" to tackle the problem and in the case of Mr Garnier, "referring something off to the ministerial code is just not sufficient".

Anyone working in Parliament who feels uncomfortable because of unwanted sexual behaviour should be able to receive support and advice on a confidential basis by phone, intranet or face-to-face, she said.

He insisted there must be "zero tolerance of sexual harassment or bullying" adding: "If there have been assaults they should be reported to the police here".



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