LABOUR leader Keir Starmer has said he takes allegations of sexual harassment “extremely seriously” after a Labour aide only received a warning after allegedly groping a junior a staff member.
Politico revealed an internal investigation found the adviser sexually harassed a female intern.
The adviser to a member of Labour’s front bench was allowed to keep his job, though he has now resigned.
Misconduct allegations “are taken seriously” by Labour, Sir Keir said.
She complained first to the parliamentary authorities, which resulted in a letter of apology, and then to the Labour Party, which took three years to investigate the case.
Under party rules, allegations of sexual misconduct are investigated by a panel of Labour’s National Executive Committee members, advised by an independent legal professional.
Asked why the investigation took three years, Starmer said: “I think all of these allegations have to be taken extremely seriously, and they are taken seriously by me and the party.
“I do understand, from my experience as chief prosecutor, how difficult it is for people to come forward.
“That is among the reasons why we made our process completely independent, so it is not a political process any more.
“What I would say is: I would encourage anybody to come forward and to feel they are supported through that independent process.”
The scandal comes at the same time that Labour has found itself embroiled in yet another sexual assault scandal.
Tortoise first reported that a female Labour MP claimed she had been sexually assaulted by a male shadow minister.
Yesterday, the BBC was told that the female MP reported the incident to the Met Police and to Labour whips, with Labour claiming that the whips urged her to make a formal complaint to the party.
However, Tortoise reported that she “felt his popularity within the party would stand against her”.
The Metropolitan Police told the BBC they received a report in March of this year that a woman was sexually assaulted by a politician in July 2021, with the incident allegedly taking place after a summer party in London.
The Met said: “At the victim’s request, the incident will not now be investigated at this time,” adding that enquiries were at an “assessment stage” and a formal investigation hadn’t been launched.
The Met refused to identify either MP, leaving mystery to surround the case and members of the public taking to social media to question why the female MP would seemingly put the protection of the reputation of her party above bringing a potential sexual abuser of women to justice.
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