Shropshire Star

Labour MP criticises her party’s handling of sexual misconduct allegations

Labour MP Charlotte Nichols said there is a ‘rotten culture’ in Westminster.

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Labour MP Charlotte Nichols (David Woolfall/UK Parliament/PA)

A Labour MP has criticised her party over its handling of allegations including sexual misconduct.

Charlotte Nichols told BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme there is a “rotten culture” in Westminster, and suggested there have been times when Labour cannot “keep our own house in order”.

A Labour spokesperson said the party would urge people with complaints to come forward so they can be investigated and action taken.

On Thursday, Labour received a formal complaint over the conduct of Swansea West MP Geraint Davies, who had been suspended following allegations of sexual harassment.

Politico reported that a woman had submitted the complaint.

The website went on to report that a sitting Labour MP has registered a complaint against Mr Davies.

The outlet had earlier reported that five women had made sexual harassment claims against the veteran politician.

Mr Davies said that he did not “recognise” the allegations, according to Politico.

The decision to administratively suspend Mr Davies means he will have the whip removed in Westminster while a review is carried out.

Ms Nichols, MP Warrington North and who was first elected in 2019, told the BBC: “When I first came into Parliament, literally within my first week there was a list of names, about 30 MPs on it.

“People I was told to, you know, do everything I could to make sure that I wasn’t alone with, to never accept a drink from, to not get in a lift with, people that their bad behaviour is so widely known, and so little action has been taken about this, that really it’s left to individuals to try to keep themselves safe as far as possible by staying out of the orbit of these people.”

She added: “It wasn’t a written list, it was a verbal one… there were, there are Labour MPs on it.”

She went on: “But this is something that has been widely known about in Westminster, the behaviour of a range of different colleagues, but none of the systems and procedures that we have in place are effective for tackling these problems where they arise.

“Fundamentally, there is an underlying absolutely rotten culture at Westminster and this is baked into every level of how the institution operates.”

A Labour MP said there is a ‘rotten culture’ in Westminster (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Asked why the Labour hierarchy did not “do anything”, she said: “It’s a very worthwhile question to ask, and something I have been asking myself in the time that I have been in Parliament, and this is one of those things that you see time and again in Westminster.

“Everyone is very keen to point the finger at other parties, and to use these things as political point scoring, but no one actually wants to look at their own parties and what they are, or actually not doing about this.

“One of the things that I found particularly interesting in the Davies case this week was when the whip was suspended.

“At that point there had not been a formal complaint, but the Labour Party have always said that they are unable to act in the absence of formal complaints.

“And yet here they were doing just that, which suggests to me in the other cases… that the party have chosen not to act.

“And that is something that, as someone who wants us to be better, to do better, and to be part of modelling what Westminster needs to do, when we can’t even keep our own house in order, it’s really upsetting both on a personal and on a professional level.”

Asked about an incident which had been reported in the press and if she had raised it with the party hierarchy, Ms Nichols said she had, adding: “Their response has been utterly inadequate.”

She also told the programme: “I’m aware of cases where people have been sexually assaulted, they have gone to the ICGS (Parliament’s Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme), and have been told that they can’t act because it didn’t happen on the Parliamentary estate.

“They have then gone to the party who took seven months to tell them that they were not going to be investigating it, and were effectively left with the option of going to the police.”

A Labour Party spokesperson said: “We would strongly urge anyone with a complaint to come forward so that allegations can be swiftly and fully investigated and action taken.

“The party has ensured that there is a wide range of support available to complainants, to provide confidence and confidential guidance throughout the disciplinary process.”

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