Dossier details allegations of sexual abuse within Labour Party
Some 43 women have given anonymous testimony of incidents ranging from inappropriate touching to rape.
Campaigners have submitted a dossier to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, detailing allegations from dozens of women who claim to have suffered sexual harassment, abuse or intimidation within the party.
The 43 anonymised cases in the LabourToo report cover women describing themselves as party staff, activists, politicians and candidates complaining of behaviour ranging from inappropriate touching to rape.
It came as a separate report found that a quarter of MPs (24%) – including half of women MPs (51%) – said they were personally aware of sexual harassment or abuse in Parliament.
MPs were due on Wednesday to debate proposals for a new complaints and grievance system for Parliament drawn up by Leader of the Commons Andrea Leadsom in the wake of a rash of complaints of inappropriate behaviour.
LabourToo compiled submissions to its website over the course of two months in response to its appeal for stories of sexual abuse within the Labour Party.
One woman alleged she had been raped at the party’s annual conference but found that “no-one cared” when she told her regional party and an MP, while another claimed that an individual facing rape allegations was allowed to resign quietly to avoid damage to the party’s reputation.
Others spoke of lewd comments and leg-stroking by Labour men. One councillor was said to have rubbed his groin against a woman, while another was accused of putting “Vote Labour” stickers on female activists in a way which allowed him to touch their breasts.
We have found it genuinely distressing to read about this level of inexcusable behaviour taking place within the Labour Party Spokesperson for LabourToo
LabourToo called on the party to establish an independent complaints process and put in place compulsory training for all party staff and representatives.
A spokesperson for the group said reports of sexual misbehaviour had come from all levels in the Labour Party and all parts of the country.
“Despite being prepared for it, we have found it genuinely distressing to read about this level of inexcusable behaviour taking place within the Labour Party,” said the spokesperson.
“Sexual harassment, abuse and discrimination is not restricted to the corridors of Westminster, but is taking place at all levels within the Labour Party.
“We want to ensure that women who have been victims of sexual harassment, abuse, assault and discrimination have confidence in reporting their experiences and can do so in the knowledge that everything will be done to ensure perpetrators are held to account.
“We need a system that is not open to political bias or interference from the friends and allies of the usually more powerful men whose behaviour causes the problem in the first place.”
Labour made clear that it welcomed the report, which will be fed into an ongoing review into its procedures for dealing with sexual harassment. The party urged women who had submitted anonymous testimony to make formal complaints so that alleged incidents can be investigated.
Too many young women are facing sexism and harassment while trying to carry out their jobs Carol Easton, chief executive, Young Women's Trust
A party spokesperson said: “Labour is committed to continually improving our procedures, which is why Karon Monaghan QC has been appointed to make an independent assessment of the party’s current procedures for dealing with sexual harassment and an independent specialist organisation is conducting an audit into the procedures from the perspective of those who have experienced sexual harassment.
“LabourToo’s report will feed into these ongoing reviews, which aim to ensure our procedures are as robust as possible.”
Meanwhile, a ComRes poll of 150 MPs for the Young Women’s Trust found that 89% of female parliamentarians and 58% of men believe sexism exists at Westminster.
The Trust’s chief executive Carole Easton said: “Sexual harassment is not just happening in Parliament but in workplaces across the country. Too many young women are facing sexism and harassment while trying to carry out their jobs.
“Parliament should set the standard. If our lawmakers can’t get it right, we have a real problem.”