Calls for new PM to quash 'toxic' assault allegations in Westminster

Fresh ‘Pestminster’ scandal sparks calls for Britain’s next Prime Minister to quash ‘toxic’ culture amid claims Cabinet minister sexually assaulted young parliamentary aide

  • Parliamentary aide said she was targeted by a Tory MP who is now in cabinet
  • A second staff member claimed she was groped by senior employee at No 10
  • Could reignite ‘Pestminster’ allegations of politicians abusing younger staff
  • Mike Clancy, from Trade Union Prospect, called new PM to quash ‘toxic’ culture 

Britain’s next Prime Minister must quash a ‘toxic’ culture in Westminster amid claims a Cabinet minister sexually assaulted a young parliamentary aide, campaigners have demanded.

Two women who worked in the Conservative Party have accused a minister and senior Number 10 aide of sexual misconduct.  

A former parliamentary aide told Sky News’ podcast The Open Secret she was targeted by a Tory MP who has since been promoted to cabinet. A second parliamentary staff member said she was groped by a senior employee at Number 10 before he was appointed, reported The Times.  

The allegations mark a fresh ‘Pestminster’ scandal – which first broke in 2017 over a series of allegations about politicians being involved in cases of sexual harassment and bullying against junior staff. 

A new Prime Minister – either Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak – is set to be appointed on Monday after Tory members cast their votes. 

Campaigners have called for Britain’s next Prime Minister to quash a ‘toxic’ culture in Westminster amid claims a Cabinet minister sexually assaulted a young parliamentary aide. Picture: file image

Boris Johnson resigned in the wake of a series of scandals, including accusations of inappropriate behaviour from Chris Pincher, the former deputy chief whip of the Conservative Party. 

Mike Clancy, the general secretary of trade union Prospect, which represents parliamentary staff, said he hopes the new Prime Minister will address the allegations.

He said: ‘Sophisticated employers have processes and procedures to ensure that the rights of victims, and those who are the subject of complaints, are properly handled. 

‘Now we have a new prime minister, from Monday, and this is an opportunity to reset the culture and show the leadership that hasn’t been there in the past.

‘And I’m hoping that the new prime minister will be able to clean this up and deal with a toxic culture.’

The former parliamentary aide said: ‘I was sexually assaulted by someone who’s now a Cabinet minister, and I was in my early 20s and didn’t really know how to deal with it.

‘I was super drunk. He’s feeding me more wine and I’m already quite obviously tanked. After a while, I was like, ‘you know, what? Would you mind if I just went to bed?’ So I went to bed.

‘But obviously he didn’t leave me alone. And then I woke up the next morning and I realised what had happened.’

The woman worked at Number 10 when the incident happened. She complained when he was given the role but he remains in position. 

She said: ‘I heard that he was going to get a job in Downing Street. I raised it with a number of people.

‘Nothing happened. So I then formally complained to the Cabinet Office. I just felt the responsibility to do it again, partly because the office he’s going to be working in is full of women. And I just thought he’d do it again.’

Sexual harassment is not ‘cultural’ in Westminster, but if a complaint is made, it should be properly investigated, a Conservative MP has said.

Kevin Hollinrake was asked by Sky News’ Kay Burley about the sexual misconduct allegations reported by Sky News against a Cabinet minister and a senior No 10 aide in Boris Johnson’s Government.

The MP for Thirsk and Malton said: ‘It should be fully investigated if a complaint is made. Absolutely. 

‘I don’t believe it’s cultural. But clearly in a cohort of 650 people you are going to see some poor behaviour and where that exists, and a complaint is made, it should be thoroughly investigated, and those people held to account.’

He added: ‘I don’t think it’s cultural in Westminster. But nevertheless, one complaint like this is one complaint too many. If a complaint is made, it should be properly investigated.’

A Government spokesman said: ‘We take allegations of misconduct extremely seriously and there are robust procedures in place to raise concerns. All ministerial appointments also follow established processes.

‘All prospective government employees are subject to necessary checks and vetting. We do not comment on individuals.’ 

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