A group of young Tories have released a statement following Guido’s story this morning about the senior activist accused of harassment, Robert Winfield:
“This is a statement to clear up the previously discussed incidents.
Firstly we want to make this clear – we never wanted to go public. We tried numerous times to solve this behind closed doors, we also have the evidence to prove this. This was never about publicity, we have turned down over 30 media invitations, as we don’t see it further helping our cause.
This was never a witch-hunt. We anonymised documents, statements and asked others to do the same, repeatedly.
The Guido Fawkes article was not signed off or written by us. When it was published we immediately asked them to remove names and take it down to risk ruining any investigation.
We have been left with no choice. The party didn’t listen, the association didn’t listen, CPF didn’t listen. So, we had to be bold and be public to ensure our voices were heard. To ensure that people were safe.
On Saturday night, rising young Tory star Elena Bunbury tweeted a public statement accusing a senior Tory activist of the sexual harassment – including an incident of public masturbation during a discussion panel – she and other young women in the Conservative Party have experiencing from a senior party member over several years.
The letter addressed to Tory HQ – which complained that whilst she reported this individual over a year ago nothing had to date been done – anonymised the individual in question. Guido can reveal the man in question is Robert Winfield.
Since Saturday, dozens of fellow party activists have come forward to also accuse Mr Winfield of inappropriate and creepy behaviour – both on and offline; including over 150 young members co-signing a letter accusing the Conservative Party of having an “abhorrent complaints procedure” that prevents individuals from being held to account and treating young female members “with disdain”.
Since Elena detailed her alleged experience with Winfield, many other young Conservative women and men have come forward with their own stories and experiences of the senior party activist, including:
“I may be wrong, but I have a really positive feeling that this is it for you-know-who. His time is up”
“I’m glad more Tories are openly criticising Robert Winfield for being a massive creep and I’d like to join in the call: Robert Winfield is a massive creep”
“Conservative young women, I’m with you. Whether we’re friends or whether I don’t know your name. He is nothing. You are everything”
“To the men in our party: you know what’s going on. Call it out, support us, tell people, make noise. Don’t just stand by as we try to make things better”
One young male party member recounted his experience at Conservative Party Conference, saying he was “informed that many Tory lasses were warned to avoid a certain individual. The first time I met said individual, he spent the reception chasing the only young Tory female present after their initial greeting, it was harassment”.
Winfield is the Secretary of the Yorkshire Conservative Policy Forum branch, where “extensive paragraphs circulated in emails on the topic of inviting young Tory women and praising their ‘twitter’ and prioritising the need to have them speak… it was obsessive”. Prominent young Tory Soutiam Goodarzi noted her similar experience, saying she “was only 15 when I joined that group, so not even at the age of consent”.
In defending himself against this onslaught of accusations, Winfield retweeted a Tweet (since deleted), saying “It’s a real shame to see tweets today attacking a long standing hard working Conservative member”.
It remains to be seen whether CCHQ will now act on these accusations…
UPDATE: A Conservative spokesman tells Guido: “We take any allegations of this type incredibly seriously and are investigating this matter in line with our procedures.” Guido understands that Winfield has been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation…