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‘Married government minister’ among MPs accused of harassing women

The MPs, all men, have been accused of harassing or propositioning young women inappropriately, according to The Times.

Four MPs, including a minister, have been caught up in allegations of sexual misconduct at Westminster, it has been reported.

The MPs, all men, have been accused of harassing or propositioning young women inappropriately, according to The Times.

The claims come after Downing Street described allegations of abuse at Westminster as “deeply concerning” and warned any minister found to have behaved inappropriately would face “serious action”.

Downing Street said the Prime Minister would take any allegations 'extremely seriously' (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

According to The Times, the minister involved, who is married, is alleged to have made passes at several women including journalists and aides.

Another married Conservative MP was said to have had affairs with at least two young researchers in the past few years, the paper said.

On the Labour side, the paper said an MP who has served in the shadow cabinet under Jeremy Corbyn is alleged to have texted a work experience colleague, suggesting there would have been sexual contact had he been younger.

Another Labour MP allegedly sent multiple inappropriate texts “when drunk”, including to a researcher in her early 20s, the paper said.

The latest claims came after The Sun reported that women researchers and aides in Parliament were using a WhatsApp group to share information about alleged abuse.

Members of the group reportedly shared tales of MPs groping staff in lifts and a minister branded “not safe in taxis” because of his behaviour.

A Number 10 spokeswomen said Downing Street was not aware of any allegations being reported formally but that any such claims would be taken “extremely seriously”.

The House of Commons has a 24-hour helpline available for staff to raise concerns (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

“The Prime Minister was very clear when we responded to the reports about Harvey Weinstein in the last few weeks that any unwanted sexual behaviour is completely unacceptable, and that is true in any walk of life – including politics,” the spokeswoman said.

“Any allegations that may come to light will be taken extremely seriously and we would advise people to contact the police if there is such an allegation so that it’s fully investigated.”

A House of Commons spokesman said the parliamentary authorities had a limited ability to intervene because many staff are employed directly by MPs, but that there was a 24-hour helpline available to raise concerns.

“The House of Commons takes the welfare of everyone who works in Parliament very seriously,” the spokesman said.

“The House is limited in its ability to intervene in employment matters, such as allegations of bullying or harassment by MPs of their staff, as MPs are self-employed and employ their staff directly.”

The spokesman added: “Where Members are alleged to have breached the MPs’ code of conduct it is possible for the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards to launch an investigation.”

Max Freedman, chairman of the Unite union’s parliamentary staff branch, said there should be an overarching complaints procedure for people to raise their concerns.

He said: “MPs come from every background, they are not given proper training when they come in here, there is no oversight of what they do.

“Unless there is a proper system put in place, then these things happen in all these big organisations across the country. That’s the problem.”

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