First Cabinet minister named by the Sun as Michael Fallon, who admits touching Julia Hartley-Brewer’s knee. He says sorry…
UPDATE: Statement from Julia, who says she is not a victim:
“I have received a number of calls today from newspapers and broadcasters asking me to comment on a claim that I was the victim of sexual harassment by a current Cabinet minister.
I have spoken previously about a Cabinet minister who repeatedly put his hand on my knee during a party conference dinner. I calmly and politely explained to him that, if he did it again, I would “punch him in the face”. He withdrew his hand and that was the end of the matter.
I have had no issues since with the man in question and do not regard the incident as anything but mildly amusing, which is why I have declined to name him. It has also been claimed that the same minister made remarks to me about my breasts. If he did, I certainly don’t recall those comments.
Wild rumours and claims are circulating about many male MPs at Westminster in a media feeding frenzy. I have worked in and around Westminster for 20 years and, as far as I am aware, incidents of genuine harassment involve only a small number of MPs from all parties.
I believe it is absurd and wrong to treat workplace banter and flirting – and even misjudged sexual overtures – between consenting adults as being morally equivalent to serious sexual harassment or assault.
It demeans genuine victims of real offences. Anyone with any allegations against an MP, or anyone else, should speak up now and provide the evidence to ensure any necessary action is taken.
I have not been a victim and I don’t wish to take part in what I believe has now become a Westminster witch hunt.”