Jeremy Corbyn has called for an end to the “warped and degrading culture” at Westminster where the abuse of women has for too long gone unchallenged.
The Labour leader said any MPs who engaged in the sexual harassment must be held accountable for their actions. His warning came amid reports that at least four MPs, including a minister, had been caught up in allegations of sexual misconduct.
In a keynote speech, Mr Corbyn urged women who have suffered such treatment to report it to the relevant authorities, including, if appropriate, the police.
The Labour leader has faced accusations that he was slow to act over misogynistic and homophobic comments by Labour MP Jared O’Mara, including a claim he called a constituent an “ugly bitch”, which he denies.
But in his address to the Unite union’s Scottish policy conference in Aviemore, Mr Corbyn insisted the party would not tolerate any form of discrimination or harassment.
“The problem doesn’t stop with those who make unwanted advances on women, it extends to a culture that has tolerated abuse for far too long,” he said. “It’s a warped and degrading culture that also exists and thrives in the corridors of power, including in Westminster.”
“This needs to be a turning point. Any members of Parliament who have engaged in this sort of behaviour must be held to account. “As leader of the Labour Party, I want to make it absolutely clear that our party will not tolerate any form of discrimination or harassment.”
Earlier, Women and Equalities Minister Justine Greening echoed calls for the harassment of women at Westminster to be stamped out. “There is no place in Westminster for this kind of behaviour.
“Women who experience it should be coming forward to be clear about what has happened to them,” she told Sky News. “It is now long overdue that we stamp this behaviour out.” According to The Times, one of the Labour MPs caught up in the allegations is alleged to have texted a work experience colleague, suggesting there would have been sexual contact had he been younger.
Another Labour MP allegedly sent multiple inappropriate texts “when drunk”, including to a researcher in her early 20s, the paper said. The minister involved, who is married, is alleged to have made passes at several women including journalists and aides, according to the paper.
Another married Conservative MP was said to have had affairs with at least two young researchers in the past few years, the paper said.
The Guardian reported there were allegations of inappropriate sexual behaviour by a Conservative former minister while a Labour MP was described as “incredibly predatory”.
There were also said be allegations of inappropriate behaviour by a backbench MP during a trip abroad earlier this year while an MP allegedly left a parliamentary delegation after claims about their conduct, the paper said.