MP claims to have suffered years of unwanted attention
Kerry McCarthy claims suspended Kelvin Hopkins told her that he "dreamed about" her.
A Labour MP has claimed she has suffered unwanted attention from suspended MP Kelvin Hopkins spanning two decades.
Former frontbencher Kerry McCarthy said the Luton North MP sent her cards and letters commenting on her appearance, including one in which he described having a dream about her.
The Bristol East MP is the first Member of Parliament to make specific claims of inappropriate behaviour since the Westminster harassment scandal erupted.
Ms McCarthy said she found Mr Hopkins' behaviour "upsetting" but did not feel she had anywhere to turn to about it.
The former shadow environment secretary's claims follow allegations of inappropriate behaviour made against Mr Hopkins by a party activist.
Mr Hopkins has "absolutely and categorically" denied the claims made by Ava Etemadzadeh earlier in November.
Ms Etemadzadeh claims that the 76-year-old "hugged me very tightly and rubbed his crotch on me" following an event at Essex University in 2014 and sent inappropriate text messages months later.
On Friday, Ms McCarthy said she had decided to go public with her allegations after the "bravery" of Ms Etemadzadeh in announcing hers.
She continued that she had been reassured and encouraged by the response she received after approaching Labour's chief whip, Nick Brown, a week ago with her claims and informing party leader Jeremy Corbyn's office about them on Monday.
But in a statement, Mr Hopkins said Ms McCarthy's complaint had caused him "immense personal hurt and utter dismay" from someone he counted as a friend.
He added: "I cannot understand why a Parliamentarian of such experience and standing, who is also such a long term friend, would not have told me that she was unhappy with any aspect of our friendship rather than going straight to the national press.
"At a minimum I would have expected a Parliamentary colleague to raise any complaint through normal channels, allowing me due process and a fair chance to defend myself, if necessary.
"If Kerry McCarthy MP raises a complaint with the Labour Party in the normal and fair way, I will of course fully cooperate with any investigation.
"However I do ask, on my behalf and on behalf of all other individuals and their families dealing with allegations, that these matters are dealt with by proper due process and not by unfair, humiliating one-sided trial by media.
"I am a 76-year old man and the stress this has caused me and my family is unbearable.
"All I ask for is proper due process and not to be convicted and vilified by the press before the details of the allegations are even investigated and put to me properly if they need to be."
Ms McCarthy said she believed Mr Hopkins, who, she says, urged her in two of the notes to "dispose" of them, knew his actions were wrong.
"I never responded in any way, I never gave him any encouragement in any way, I tried to keep my distance as much as possible," she said.
"I absolutely believe he knew this behaviour was unacceptable. It made me feel uncomfortable in his presence and was quite upsetting."
Ms McCarthy's allegations are the latest in a spate of revelations and allegations involving MPs over the past few days, which have led to calls for action to ensure Westminster is a safe place to work.
Harassment claims and allegations have led to a number of MPs being suspended from their parties, investigations launched, and even the resignation of former defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon.
Ms McCarthy, 52, first met Mr Hopkins, 76, when she was in her late 20s and they were both involved in Labour politics in her home town of Luton.
In 1994, when she was chairwoman of Luton North constituency Labour Party (CLP) and he chaired Luton South CLP, they went out for lunch, with Ms McCarthy believing it was solely to discuss political issues.
He later sent her a card saying he had invited her "because you are attractive, intelligent and charming" before urging her to "dispose" of the note.
In a second note, Mr Hopkins enclosed a photograph of Ms McCarthy and described her as "pretty" before again asking her to dispose of it.
He also sent a postcard, which appears to be dated 1996, in an envelope to her place of work, asking whether her employer specialised in "pretty, petite brunettes".
Ms McCarthy said she went to another lunch with Mr Hopkins because she found it awkward to say no to the invitation. He sent a card afterwards suggesting it "would be nice to meet again".
On another occasion, also believed to be in 1996, Ms McCarthy claimed Mr Hopkins placed his hand on hers when she was not looking as she was getting out of a car.
A note sent in the run-up to the 1997 general election said: "You know I think you are lovely ... but I never see enough of you ... after May 1st perhaps ... K x"
The letters then stopped until her 50th birthday, when Mr Hopkins sent a note on parliamentary writing paper to mark the occasion. By this time Ms McCarthy was an MP.
A final letter was sent some time in 2015/16 but it is not clear if it was written after he was reprimanded by then chief whip Rosie Winterton for the incident involving Ms Etemadzadeh.
In it, he described having a dream about Ms McCarthy and said she remained a "very attractive woman".
"I was upset by the unwanted attention. When it returned, I felt very angry," Ms McCarthy said.
She continued that it was important, as an older woman, to back up Ms Etemadzadeh.
"You have a young woman who has been brave enough to speak out and is getting a hard time from some quarters about it," she said.
"It is up to every woman to decide if they want to speak out or not. I chose not to in the past but I didn't feel I could stay silent when my experience was so similar to hers."
Ms McCarthy continued that while some may dismiss her allegations as low level, she believes they are part of a wider cultural problem in Westminster which could deter young women from entering politics.
A Labour spokesperson said the party "takes all allegations of sexual harassment extremely seriously", adding that Mr Hopkins "is currently suspended from the Labour Party pending an investigation".
On Monday Theresa May met with other party leaders at the House of Commons to reach agreement on new Parliament-wide anti-harassment procedures.
While last week, Mr Corbyn committed the Labour party to tackling the "warped and degrading" culture of sexual harassment in work places.
The Labour leader used a speech at a party conference in Blackpool to tell delegates abuse has been "hiding in plain sight" and must be stamped out.