Scandal-hit Pete Willsman repeatedly made inappropriate comments to young women on Labour’s NEC, according to four witnesses who were present. The witnesses all say that, during a meeting of the NEC in 2016, Willsman bragged that he uses his relationship with Jeremy Corbyn to get close to young women. The four witnesses say that Willsman, in front of the whole NEC, boasted that he chats up women by telling them he is friends with Corbyn. “He was arguing that it showed how popular Jeremy is that he could successfully chat up women by saying that he was his friend,” says a source who witnessed the comments. The witnesses say that Willsman told the room that he has a “three yard rule” about how close he can get to women while chatting them up.
In front of the entire NEC, Willsman then asked the young female members present if they would go clubbing with him. Four witnesses say he asked one young female member of Labour’s NEC if she twerks when she goes clubbing. The witnesses say that Willsman boasted that other women like to twerk on him.
At this point, the then Labour chief whip Rosie Winterton, interrupted Willsman and admonished him. Winterton told Willsman: “I think that is really inappropriate and out of order. I think you should apologise”.
Several female members of the NEC complained informally to the then Labour general secretary Iain McNicol about Willsman’s conduct after the meeting. One woman present tells Guido Willsman’s behaviour was “shocking”.
All four witnesses to this incident tell Guido that it was not a one off, and that Willsman routinely makes similar comments to young women in the Labour Party. Guido is told Willsman has also repeatedly sided with the accused in sexual harassment cases. One NEC source says he sided with the accused in once case because he was a “good guy”. A second NEC source says he described the accused as a “good comrade”.
Willsman declined multiple opportunities to comment by phone and email both today and yesterday.
Willsman retains the support of the Labour leadership after his rant against Jews that provoked this week’s anti-Semitism furore. Why is this person still on Labour’s NEC?