Female staff working in parliament are naming which MPs to avoid due to allegedly sexually inappropriate behaviour in a secret WhatsApp group, it has been reported.
A number of politicians, including cabinet ministers, are “very handsy” and are “not safe” in taxis or lifts, female aides, secretaries, and researchers said in the group, reports The Sun.
Claims on WhatsApp include MPs having sex in their Houses of Parliament offices with staff, a “groping” Cabinet minister who attacked staff during drinks parties, and even one politician demanding staff to buy sex toys as presents.
A source told the paper that the revelation could trigger a scandal resulting in the resignation of some MPs.
One member of the group said: “The usual old suspects are there but there have been some surprising younger names crop up.”
The claims allegedly contained in the group include “[redacted] touched my arse at drinks party” and “watch out for [redacted] at conference”.
If the #metoo Westminster stories are written there could be a lot of by elections
— Anne Fairweather CC (@AnneFairweather) October 20, 2017
Another said: “For years we have all looked out for each other. It’s like, ‘So-and-so is hiring, but it can’t be a woman for him’.”
A Commons spokesman told the paper: “The House of Commons takes the welfare of everyone who works in Parliament very seriously.
“A free confidential helpline is provided by the House and available 24/7 for all Members’ staff.”
A spokesman for the prime minister told reporters in Westminster that “any reports of sexual harassment are deeply concerning” and that “any unwanted sexual behaviour is completely unacceptable,” according to The Telegraph.
She said: “Any allegations that may come to light will be taken extremely seriously. We would advise people to contact the police if there are such allegations.
“The House of Commons have commented on this and said they take the welfare of everyone who works in Parliament very seriously.
“The PM would agree with that. It is essential that MPs feel safe going about their work whether here or in their constituency.”
The European Union (EU) has also been caught up in the recent wave of sexual harassment and assault allegations triggered by the Harvey Weinstein scandal and the #MeToo social media phenomenon.
Earlier this week, it was reported that employees of the European Commission had made at least one complaint of sexual harassment against a colleague every week for the past five years.
Last week, more than a dozen young female aides told The Sunday Times that they had been targeted by older male MEPs who groped them. They had remained silent out of fear of losing their jobs and being blacklisted in Brussels.
The paper’s investigation claimed that the European Parliament is a “hotbed of sexual harassment”, where senior MEPs who “feel they can do whatever they want” and prey on young women.