Pressure piles on Keir Starmer to sack senior Labour aide who ‘groped intern in her 20s’ as shadow minister Jonathan Reynolds suggests he should lose his job
- Labour MPs have expressed their anger at the party’s handling of the case
Pressure is mounting on Sir Keir Starmer to sack a senior Labour aide who is alleged to have groped a woman 20 years his junior.
Shadow minister Jonthan Reynolds this morning suggested the unnamed man should lose his job over the sexual harassment complaint.
A number of Labour MPs have already expressed their anger at the party’s handling of the case, with one saying she was ‘ashamed’ of the outcome.
It follows reports the adviser has continued to be employed by Labour despite a complaint being upheld by two separate investigations.
Sir Keir’s office have insisted the Labour leader retains a ‘zero tolerance’ stance on sexual harassment and defended the party’s independent process for dealing with such claims.
Shadow minister Jonthan Reynolds this morning suggested the Labour aide should lose his job over the sexual harassment complaint
Sir Keir Starmer’s office have insisted the Labour leader retains a ‘zero tolerance’ stance on sex harassment and defended the party’s independent process for dealing with such claims
Speaking to Times Radio, Mr Reynolds said he found reports of the man’s behaviour ‘absolutely abhorrent’ but added he did not know the details of the case.
‘I’m never comfortable with any story of this kind – it upsets me greatly and I deplore this kind of behaviour,’ the shadow business secretary said.
‘But I’m going to be frank with you, I don’t know the details of this case.
‘The reason for that is we’ve had since April 2022, in the Labour Party, a fully independent complaints procedure.
‘We’ve got that to remove any kind of political factor or any kind of political consideration from this process.’
But, pressed on whether the man should lose his job – if it was true he had groped an intern – Mr Reynolds replied: ‘I don’t think anyone who behaves that way should continue in employment in any circumstance.’
Labour MP Rosie Duffield, a fierce critic of Sir Keir over women’s rights issues, yesterday fumed at Labour’s handling of the case.
‘This is not ok. And I expect to hear it loudly condemned by my colleagues and leader,’ she said.
Fellow Labour backbencher Charlotte Nichols tweeted: ‘Yet another example of Westminster’s tolerance of sexual harassment and misconduct.
‘No party has clean hands here, and I’m ashamed that (yet again) my own party’s actions don’t match our rhetoric on higher standards. Pathetic.’
And Stella Creasy, a Labour former shadow minister, said: ‘It’s deeply troubling that this case shows we could be employing people who have been found to abuse their position.’
Labour MP Rosie Duffield, a fierce critic of Sir Keir over women’s rights issues, fumed: ‘This is not ok. And I expect to hear it loudly condemned by my colleagues and leader.’
A woman was reportedly told this month by Labour that her complaint, which she first made in 2020, had been upheld and the man would receive a written ‘final warning’
According to the Politico website, Labour took three years to investigate a sexual harassment complaint against the unnamed senior party aide.
It reported the man was alleged to have groped the woman when she was in her early 20s and the complaint was judged proven twice – both by parliamentary investigators and separately by Labour.
The website added the woman was told this month by Labour that her complaint, which she first made in 2020, had been upheld and the man would receive a written ‘final warning’.
‘This ordeal has made me feel let down twice — by the man who chose to make me feel intimidated and vulnerable in my workplace,’ the woman told Politico.
‘And by the party which appears to be content to let him keep his job and risk other young women facing the same experience.’
Asked yesterday about the reports, Sir Keir’s spokesman said: ‘We have an independent process that looks into all of these matters.
‘It is a thorough, robust and independent process. It is for them to make the determination on how individual cases should be handled.’
The spokesman insisted Sir Keir had a zero tolerance approach to sexual harassment and retained confidence in the party’s independence process for handling claims.
‘The right and proper way for these issues to be dealt with is not through a political process but by having a robust, independent process and that’s what we’ve put in place,’ he added.
‘Whether it’s the parliamentary process or our process, that is recognised as the right way for these things to be dealt with – which is by having an independent process.’
The spokesman said that complaints were handled by an ‘external organisation that is contracted to do these investigations’ and who were ‘recognised as experts when it comes to dealing with these sorts of investigations’.
He added: ‘If you have independent processes, you have to recognise it’s for independent processes to determine the outcome of what is appropriate in those individual circumstances.’
Asked how Sir Keir’s ‘zero tolerance’ stance on sexual harassment matched up with Labour’s continued employment of someone who had had a complaint upheld, the spokesman replied: ‘We have taken the view that the right thing to do is have these decisions be made independent of politicians.’
Pressed on whether Sir Keir was comfortable with the man’s continued employment, he said: ‘The issue in terms of the decision that the party makes on employment status is based on the conclusion of the independent process – that’s the way in which these things are decided.
‘It is not for any politician to second-guess the process we have in place.’
A Labour Party spokesperson said: ‘Complaints relating to sexual misconduct are reviewed and ultimately determined by an independent process that has been fully operational since April 2022.
‘We would encourage anyone who experiences misconduct to use any available process before them, whether that be the Labour Party’s independent process, parliament’s Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme, or the police.’
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