1) Conservative activist was allegedly raped and then ignored in 2016On 5 November, the BBC reported that a Conservative activist says she was raped and then “completely ignored”. Speaking anonymously, the woman said:
I was raped by someone senior to me in the Conservative Party. It was violent. It wasn’t in Westminster, it was in my own home. And it shouldn’t have happened. I remember the attack, during the attack. I remember the room disappearing around me and thinking I was going to die. When he left the next day I was at the police station within an hour and I reported it.The woman also raised the allegation with a Commons clerk, assuming the Chief Whip or Leader of the House, Andrea Leadsom, would be in contact. But Leadsom has denied any knowledge of the complaint.
The clerk in question said:
A private conversation took place on 4 August between the Clerk of the House (David Natzler) and a Conservative Party activist, at her request. This conversation arose as a result of an alleged rape in 2016 which had already been investigated by the police and for which criminal proceedings had been instigated. The allegation was mentioned but was not the focus of the discussion, as the incident had not taken place on the Parliamentary Estate, and the activist had not been employed on the Estate. There was no question of formally “referring” the allegations to other House authorities as there was already a criminal case underway. We understand that the charges have recently been dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service.
The Conservative activist branded the culture in Westminster “toxic”..
2) Former minister under investigation for multiple allegations
Also on 5 November, former Conservative minister Dan Poulter was referred to the party’s new disciplinary panel. Fellow MP Andrew Bridgen claims that three female Conservative MPs wouldn’t get in a lift with Poulter because he allegedly put his hand up their skirts. Bridgen reported the incident seven years ago to the Conservative whip’s office, but says the report was ignored.
A spokesman for Poulter, MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, said he:
denies all allegations of misconduct or inappropriate behaviour and will vigorously defend himself against any such claims.
3) Conservative whip stands down and refers himself to the policeConservative MP Chris Pincher “voluntarily” quit his job as a party whip and referred himself to the police on 5 November. Party activist Alex Story says that Pincher asked him out for dinner in 2001. But then Pincher allegedly announced he needed “to go home quickly”. At his house, Story claims Pincher then became “unusually tactile” and started massaging his neck and unbuttoning his shirt, saying “you will go far in the Conservative Party”.
Story made his excuses and left. Although Pincher wasn’t an MP at the time, he quickly rose through the ranks after getting elected in 2010. Now, the MP says:
If Mr Story has ever felt offended by anything I said then I can only apologise to him..
4) Pornography allegedly found on the First Secretary of State’s Commons computerTheresa May’s number two is facing fresh allegations. Damian Green is under investigation over a claim that police found “extreme” pornography on his computer while raiding his Westminster office in 2008.
Green denied ex-police chief Bob Quick’s allegation, branding it a “political smear”.
Two Conservative backbenchers, Heidi Allen and Anna Soubry, have called for Green to stand down.
5) Conservative MP accused of pressuring a researcher to date a businessmanThe allegations continue. Shrewsbury MP Daniel Kawczynski stands accused of pressuring a young researcher to go on a date with a wealthy businessman ‘older than her father’. The MP, who was an adviser to David Cameron, is alleged to have suggested that the date may help secure a business deal.
Kawczynski denies the claim:
The allegations I believe were made by Channel 4 by an unknown third party, and I am looking forward to working with the code of conduct process to clear my name. I strongly deny the allegations made. I approached her [to] see if they would go for a coffee with a friend of mine but that is all I have done.
‘Drawing up by-election plans’The Westminster sexual harassment scandal continues to grow. The Conservatives are reportedly “drawing up contingency plans” to fight by-elections should any MPs be forced out of parliament. Former Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has already resigned from the government after sexual assault allegations, but he remains an MP.
It’s unclear if Theresa May’s minority government could take more senior resignations. Indeed, an MP formally loyal to the Prime Minister recently described her as “weaker than any of us thought”. But what is clear is that we will not be able to sort out sexual misconduct in our society if our legislators are also perpetrators.
– Support organisations like the Rape & Sexual Abuse Support Centre, The Survivors Trust, and Victim Support. And for more information on dealing with sexual abuse, see here.
– Join the White Ribbon Campaign; which aims to “educate and raise awareness of violence against women, and to engage men in these issues”.
– Have conversations with the women and men in your life, and refuse to tolerate misogyny in your communities and workplaces. This starts and ends with us.