Labour Party: An Unacceptable Failure in Addressing Sexual Harassment
The Labour Party’s handling of a sexual harassment complaint has come under fire after a woman’s complaint against a senior party aide was upheld twice over the course of three years, yet the man has been allowed to keep his job advising a member of the shadow frontbench.
The woman, who was groped by the man when she was a former intern in her early 20s, expressed her disappointment with the party’s inaction, which left her feeling let down.
Despite the party’s insistence that all complaints of sexual misconduct are taken seriously and fully investigated, the case highlights a failure to protect women from harassment in the workplace. It also raises concerns about the party’s internal procedures for addressing sexual harassment complaints.
Three Years of Inaction on Sexual Harassment Complaint
The fact that the woman had to pursue her complaint for three years before it was upheld, and that the alleged perpetrator was given only a written warning, suggests that the party is not doing enough to address sexual harassment. Furthermore, the woman’s claim that she heard other accounts of predatory behaviour by the same individual indicates a wider problem within the party.
The Labour Party’s delayed response to the complaint also shows a need for reform. The woman was first told that her complaint had been upheld by parliamentary investigators, but no further action was taken. She then complained to the Labour Party, but it took over a year for her to receive a response. The party then claimed it had no record of responding to her complaint, causing further delays.
The fact that other witnesses have approached media outlet POLITICO with concerns about the same individual suggests that there may be more victims who have yet to come forward.
A Labour Party spokesperson highlighted the existence of an independent process for reviewing and determining complaints related to sexual misconduct, which has been operational since April 2022. They encouraged individuals who experience misconduct to utilize available processes, such as the Labour Party’s independent process, parliament’s Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme, or the police.
It is very clear a more robust and independent process for investigating sexual misconduct allegations is needed, one that is transparent and ensures that victims are properly supported. Then there can be no accusations of cover-ups no matter how much this looked like a cover-up.
The scandal involving the Labour Party adds to a series of bullying and harassment incidents that have plagued Westminster in recent years, triggered initially by the 2017 #MeToo campaign. Notably, four MPs, including two from the Labour Party, have been compelled to resign since the last election due to sexual misconduct allegations.