Theresa May invites party leaders to Westminster abuse crisis meeting
The Prime Minister said MPs from all parties are “deeply concerned” about the allegations.
Theresa May has invited the leaders of Westminster’s political parties to a crisis meeting on Monday to discuss plans for tackling sexual abuse and harassment.
The Prime Minister said MPs from all parties are “deeply concerned” about allegations that have emerged in recent days as she invited political counterparts to talks on setting up a new grievance procedure.
The intervention came as Mrs May was challenged about her knowledge of claims party whips used reports of abuse to control MPs instead of dealing with the issues.
Mrs May told the Commons: “I’ve written to all party leaders inviting them to a meeting early next week so we can discuss a common, transparent, independent grievance procedure for all those working in Parliament.
“We have a duty to ensure that everyone coming here to contribute to public life is treated with respect.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he was happy to take part in the process.
At Prime Minister’s Questions, Mrs May was challenged by Labour MP Lisa Nandy, who said: “Three years ago I brought evidence to her in this House that whips had used information about sexual abuse to demand loyalty from MPs.
“I warned her at the time that unless real action was taken, we risked repeating those injustices again today.
“On three occasions I asked her to act, and on three occasions she did not.”
Mrs May said whips’ offices should “make clear to people that where there are any sexual abuse allegations that could be of a criminal nature that people should go to the police”.
A senior Downing Street source said at least one of Ms Nandy’s questions appeared to refer to an alleged assault on a child in the 1970s, and that she had been seeking reassurance from Mrs May that the inquiry into child sexual abuse would be able to look into allegations relating to information held by whips.
Number 10 insisted that Mrs May had responded to Ms Nandy’s questions, because the role of political parties had been included within the terms of reference of the child sex abuse inquiry.
“The matters raised were dealt with,” the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said.