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Party leaders to hold meeting on Westminster abuse

Theresa May has invited political counterparts to talks on setting up a grievance procedure.

Theresa May Commons 01/11/2017

Party leaders will meet next week to discuss how to tackle sexual abuse and harassment in Westminster.

Theresa May has invited political counterparts to talks on setting up a grievance procedure after allegations emerged in recent days.

"We have a duty to ensure that everyone coming here to contribute to public life is treated with respect," the prime minister told the Commons.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he was happy to take part in the process.

During Prime Minister's Questions, Labour MP Lisa Nandy said she asked Mrs May three times to act over claims party whips were using reports of abuse to control MPs instead of dealing with the issues.

She said: "Three years ago I brought evidence to her in this House that whips had used information about sexual abuse to demand loyalty from MPs.

"I warned her at the time that unless real action was taken, we risked repeating those injustices again today.

"On three occasions I asked her to act, and on three occasions she did not."

Mrs May said she would look back at the questions the Labour MP raised and that whips' offices should "make clear to people that where there are any sexual abuse allegations that could be of a criminal nature that people should go to the police".

The prime minister has ordered an inquiry into claims made against her deputy, Damian Green, after he became the most senior politician yet to be caught up in a tide of allegations and rumours.

The Cabinet Office investigation was launched after activist Kate Maltby, who is three decades younger than the First Secretary of State, told The Times that Mr Green "fleetingly" touched her knee during a meeting in a Waterloo pub in 2015, and a year later sent her a "suggestive" text message after she was pictured wearing a corset in the newspaper.

Mr Green said any allegation that he made sexual advances to Ms Maltby was "untrue (and) deeply hurtful".

The PM has ordered an inquiry into claims made against Damian Green.
The PM has ordered an inquiry into claims made against Damian Green. PA

Tory former minister Anna Soubry said Mr Green should stand down while the allegations are investigated and claimed that in "normal circumstances" he would be suspended.

A Downing Street spokesman said Mrs May had asked Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood to "establish the facts and report back as soon as possible".

Separately, Labour has launched an independent inquiry into claims that activist Bex Bailey was discouraged by a party official from reporting an alleged rape at a Labour event in 2011 on the grounds it might damage her political career.

Mr Corbyn vowed he would allow "no tolerance" of sexism, harassment or abuse after Ms Bailey spoke out about the party's failure to support her.

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