Fury at Keir Starmer as Labour continue to employ man found to have ‘groped a woman 20 years his junior’ – while party insists it has ‘zero tolerance’ stance on sexual harassment
- Sir Keir Starmer is urged to ‘loudly condemn’ his party’s handling of a complaint
Sir Keir Starmer faced fury today as it was revealed Labour have continued to employ a man in a key role after he allegedly groped a woman 20 years his junior.
The Labour leader was urged to ‘loudly condemn’ his party’s handling of a sexual harassment complaint by a former intern.
It followed reports that the man has been allowed to keep his job advising a Labour frontbencher despite the complaint being upheld by two separate investigations.
Sir Keir’s office insisted the Labour leader had a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to sexual harassment and defended the party’s independent process for dealing with such claims.
But 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.’
Sir Keir Starmer faced fury as it was revealed Labour have continued to employ a man in a key role after he allegedly groped a woman 20 years his junior
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 today 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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