Damian Green is still blogging under the title ‘Commons Touch’; his pieces also go out as a newsletter under the same title. Time for a refresh?
Damian Green is still blogging under the title ‘Commons Touch’; his pieces also go out as a newsletter under the same title. Time for a refresh?
Interesting article on sexual harassment in the Guardian today from Laura Kipnis, author of Unwanted Advances. She tells the story of one of her own #MeToo moments, at the hands of an aspiring politician:
“The culprit was a future MP and Europe minister, the friend of a friend. We were in a group of people heading into a restaurant, and this guy, later to become so politically illustrious, who was walking behind me, and whom I’d met maybe 10 minutes before, reached forward and goosed me.
By goosed, I don’t mean he touched me on my butt, but in my butt, through the thin skirt I was wearing. I turned around and glared at him – I was young, jetlagged, and confused. Was this customary in Britain? What he’d done felt humiliating. I turned ahead and resolutely kept walking, whereupon he did it again.
“Henry is increasingly in a position where he’s got some difficult decisions to make…and he will make them today” – UKIP Chairman Paul Oakden on leader @_HenryBolton‘s future #bbcsp pic.twitter.com/00eQxI2FUS
— BBC Daily Politics and Sunday Politics (@daily_politics) 14 January 2018
Pressure building on badger-chasing UKIP leader Henry Bolton after the Mail on Sunday splashed racist messages about Meghan Markle from his new girlfriend Jo Marney. UKIP Chairman Paul Oakden told the Sunday Politics Bolton has “difficult decisions to make”, signalling he should either resign or dump the 25-year-old topless model. Meanwhile, UKIP MEP Bill Etheridge has called for Bolton to resign. Which would you choose?
Number 10 say:
“Following allegations of sexual misconduct, the Prime Minister asked the Cabinet Office to look into the behaviour of Mark Garnier MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for International Trade. The Cabinet Office’s investigation primarily considered Mr Garnier’s behaviour as a Minister, but also heard evidence from before he was appointed to government.
The Cabinet Office concluded that there was no evidence to suggest that Mr Garnier’s conduct as a Minister since 2016 had breached the expected standards of behaviour. The Prime Minister’s view is therefore that Mr Garnier did not break the Ministerial Code while holding government office.
“The Cabinet Office also took evidence in relation to an incident that happened before Mr Garnier was a Minister, between Mr Garnier and a member of his parliamentary and constituency staff. The Cabinet Office concluded that there was no dispute about the facts of the incident, but there was a significant difference of interpretation between the parties, and that the member of staff in Mr Garnier’s office was distressed by what had occurred.
“It was not his intention to cause distress, and Mr Garnier has apologised unreservedly to the individual. On that basis the Prime Minister considers that a line should be drawn under the issue.”
Turns out the ministerial code says you can’t lie about porn but you can ask your researcher to buy sex toys…
A few weeks ago Guido asked what had happened to the Standards Commissioner’s investigation into Keith Vaz, which still hasn’t reported back after nearly a year and a half. Today the ongoing investigations list has been updated to reveal that the Vaz inquiry has been “suspended for medical reasons”. It’s certainly true that Vaz has gone missing in recent weeks – he didn’t vote between 18 October and 13 December and he’s only spoken in the Commons once in the last month. He did however manage a trip to the Middle East earlier this month and to vote on the EU withdrawal bill last week. Get well soon…
UPDATE: Tory MP Andrew Bridgen told Guido:
“It’s deeply disappointing but not surprising. If Vaz is not fit to be held to the standards expected of a parliamentarian then he’s not fit enough to be a parliamentarian and we should be expecting a by-election.”
UPDATE II: Guido is reminded that slippery Vaz also went ill around the time of 2001 election when previous serious allegations against him were made. He went to ground for several weeks and so avoided Michael Crick. It’s hard to doorstep a sick man…
The Labour Party’s investigation into Clive Lewis for sexual harassment has been dropped. Lewis was accused last month of giving a woman’s bottom “a big squeeze” at a party conference event, which he denied. He did not have the whip withdrawn. A Labour party spokesperson said:
“After consideration of statements provided by the complainant and the respondent, the NEC’s sexual harassment panel has ruled that on the balance of the evidence the matter should not be referred to a full hearing of the national constitutional committee. The Labour party will not be commenting further on this case.”
In October Lewis apologised after telling an activist: “get on your knees, b*tch”. Brocialists looking out for each other…
The Brexit noise is helpfully letting both the government and the Labour Party sit on the promised reports, investigations and decisions which followed the recent string of Westminster scandals. Here’s Guido’s run-down of the unfinished business from the past few weeks (and earlier)…
Jared O’Mara: Jared hasn’t been seen in Westminster since the scandal around him erupted in October and he hasn’t voted in the months since. He – or more likely, his whip – is submitting a number of very general written questions and signing the odd EDM to give the impression things are still ticking over. Jared is still under investigation after losing the Labour whip. He’s been off for weeks…
Keith Vaz: An investigation into Vaz by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner is somehow still ongoing after a complaint was made about his rent boys and coke binge in September 2016 (Kathryn Hudson better hurry-up, she’s due to step-down by the end of this year). Vaz hasn’t voted since 18 October, though he did speak in the House last week. He is currently rumoured to be on a trip to the Middle East…
Damian Green: Westminster was on tenterhooks awaiting the release of Sue Gray’s report last week, but it didn’t materialise. It was rumoured to be on the agenda again yesterday but failed to appear. Putting off the inevitable seems to be distracting Damian from his job liaising with the DUP…
Mark Garnier: Remains under Cabinet Office investigation after the Mail on Sunday reported allegations in October that he sent an aide to buy sex toys and called her “sugar tits“. What on earth are they doing, interrogating the sex shop owner?
Kelvin Hopkins: Former Shadow Culture Secretary Kelvin Hopkins lost the Labour whip in November. The party is still investigating a complaint that Hopkins sent inappropriate text messages and made inappropriate physical contact at a student event in 2014. He is voting in line with Labour but hasn’t spoken since 25 October. No update from Labour…
Ivan Lewis: Labour is still investigating a complaint against Lewis, who denied allegations of sexual harassment after a woman said he touched her leg and invited her to his house when she was 19. He hasn’t voted since 31 October or spoken in the chamber since 25 October. No update…
Dan Poulter: MPs say they haven’t seen Dr Dan around Westminster since the Sunday Times reported allegations against him on 5 November. His office told the BBC he’s “on sick leave”. He last voted on 31 October and hasn’t spoken in the chamber since 11 July. The new Conservative Party disciplinary committee is yet to report its findings…
Charlie Elphicke: Elphicke’s friends say is still unaware of what allegations have been made against him. He was told in November that allegations had been passed to the police, but there has been no news of any action. In the meantime, Elphicke is still without the whip. The chairman of his association recently backed him…
Stephen Crabb: The former Welsh Secretary is still under investigation by the Conservative Party for allegedly sexting a 19-year-old who applied for a job in his office in 2013. No update…
Chris Pincher: He resigned as a government whip after allegations in the Mail on Sunday that he had un-tucked the shirt of a male Tory. Pincher referred himself to the police. No news as to the outcome…
Daniel Kawczynski: Referred to the Tories new disciplinary committee in November following allegations that he pressured a young researcher to go on a date with a businessman ‘older than her father’. Nothing heard yet…
Jack Lopresti: A former staff member complained about Lopresti’s behaviour and a probe was launched last week. The complaint came via the Tories’ new code of conduct hotline…
What do Sue Gray, Kathryn Hudson and the Tory and Labour party internal inquiries get up to all day?
Yesterday’s order paper showed Keith Vaz being discharged from his position on the International Trade select committee, just three months after he joined. Vaz is being replaced by Tom Watson’s old flame Stephanie Peacock. Sources say Vaz hasn’t been seen much around the House recently, and he hasn’t voted since 18 October. A few months back Momentum were coming for his place on the NEC; surely he isn’t now being lined up for a frontbench job? Wonder what he’ll do with his newly free time…
The police forensics officer who examined a computer seized from Damian Green’s parliamentary office has given an interview to the BBC. Neil Lewis says the First Secretary’s claim that it wasn’t him who watched the porn is implausible, and there is “no doubt whatsoever” in his mind that porn was accessed by Green:
“The computer was in Mr Green’s office, on his desk, logged in, his account, his name. In between browsing pornography, he was sending emails from his account, his personal account, reading documents… it was ridiculous to suggest anybody else could have done it.”
Green still denies the claims. Worth noting Lewis also says the material was not extreme – it could be a case of the coverup being worse than the crime here. Could Sue Gray’s inquiry finally release its findings today?
The LibDems’ youth wing has condemned Vince Cable’s defence of Lord Rennard yesterday. Cable told the BBC he didn’t regret having the pervy peer help out on his campaign and rather unwisely told LibDem women to “move on”. Unsurprisingly that has gone down like a cup of sick with the Young Liberals:
“We at Young Liberals are disappointed to hear Vince Cable defending Lord Rennard’s involvement during his election campaign this year. Alistair Webster QC, who conducted an earlier investigation into the Rennard allegations on behalf of the party, made a statement saying “let me be clear from the outset that the evidence suggests that Lord Rennard’s behaviour has caused distress to a number of women, so much so that they came forward several years after the event in question”.
As part of Young Liberals Policy, Lord Rennard is banned from attending all Young Liberals events, and our members can refuse to work with him without fear of disciplinary action.”
LibDem insiders say the truth is doddery Cable is totally out of touch with the modern world on sexual harassment and doesn’t understand why LibDem women have a problem with Rennard. They say Vince has to be strong-armed into making any critical noises about Rennard and had to be talked down from giving him an official job. LibDems have been depressed by Cable’s tin ear on this issue…
Vince Cable has told BBC 5 Live’s Emma Barnett that he does not regret having Lord Rennard help out on his campaign in Twickenham in June. Confronted with Guido’s story that Rennard was in Vince’s campaign office on polling day, went leafleting outside Twickenham station and posed for photos with Cable and his constituents, Cable admitted:
“He did come as a volunteer. I had hundreds of volunteers. He’s a party member; he came along and did some canvassing and supported us, as he did with other MPs and candidates. I don’t regret he came as a volunteer. The position is, he’s an ordinary party member, he comes and helps and knocks on doors like hundreds of other people, and he came and supported my campaign.”
Cable also backed Rennard’s continuing LibDem membership, saying the party should “move on”:
“He clearly is the focus of a great deal of critical comment. I want the party to move on… I don’t want every conversation to go back to what happened 10 years ago with him. His position is not a comfortable one, but he is still a party member and I think that’s where it should rest.”
Not sure LibDem women will be particularly impressed at being told to “move on”…
Labour MP Emma Dent Coad said “explicit” sex manuals should be given to 13 year-olds to help them “embrace the joys of sex”, Guido can reveal. In a extraordinary letter to The Guardian newspaper, mother of three Dent Coad wrote 13 year-olds should be encouraged to take part in “heavy petting” and taught “the delights of prolonged snogs, slow caresses, fumbling through clothing.” She said:
“Whatever happened to heavy petting? Teenage sex, according to the government, your own editorial and all current debate centres exclusively on penetrative sex. Have we forgotten the delights of prolonged snogs, slow caresses, fumbling through clothing? An explicit manual on heavy petting could be given to all 13-year-olds. Embrace the joys of sex; avoid the dangers.”
Guido has repeatedly put this to Dent Coad over the last two days. She has declined to comment. It’s another Jared O’Mara case – Labour clearly didn’t vet this candidate, and now the people of Kensington have ended up with a fruitcake for an MP…
Daisy Goodwin, creator of ITV series Victoria, says a senior Downing Street adviser put his hand on her breast when they met at Number 10 between 2010 and 2016. Goodwin tells the Radio Times the aide was a few years younger than her, so likely to be in his forties:
“The official, who was a few years younger than me, showed me into a room dominated by a portrait of Mrs T and we sat at a table carved, he told me, from one piece of wood. Then to my surprise he put his feet on my chair (we were sitting side by side) and said that my sunglasses made me look like a Bond girl.
At the end of the meeting we both stood up and the official, to my astonishment, put his hand on my breast. I looked at the hand and then in my best Lady Bracknell voice said: ‘Are you actually touching my breast?’ He dropped his hand and laughed nervously… I wasn’t traumatised, I was cross, but by the next day it had become an anecdote, The Day I Was Groped In Number 10.”
Former Downing Street aides have been speculating which of them can’t be left alone in a room…
Kelvin Hopkins has given another interview to Skwawkbox apparently preempting an imminent Guardian story making new allegations about his conduct. Hopkins says fellow Labour MP Kerry McCarthy has made complaints about him:
“I have been again been put under further pressure by two press organisations claiming to have received complaints about me from my parliamentary colleague, Kerry McCarthy MP. This has caused me immense personal hurt and utter dismay.
I have known Kerry McCarthy MP personally and professionally since about 1993. She was Chair of my Constituency Labour Party. She sat on a joint local Labour Party Agency Committee with me. We both stood as selection candidates for Luton North in 1995. She became a MP in 2005 and has been a member of the Shadow Cabinet. She is a person of substantial standing on the national stage and I counted her as a friend.
If it is true that my Parliamentary colleague and long time friend has made a complaint about me via the press, then I am deeply saddened by this. I cannot understand why a Parliamentarian of such experience and standing, who is also such a long term friend, would not have told me that she was unhappy with any aspect of our friendship rather than going straight to the national press.”
Story coming tonight?
UPDATE: Kerry McCarthy alleges she has received unwanted attention from fellow party MP since mid-1990s:
“None of it is very tangible. If I had told anyone, it would have just been like gossip, instead of a complaint – you’ve seen what it is. But it is really inappropriate.”
Kelvin made overtures to her which were not rude, lewd or physical, just unwanted.
One angle of the Westminster sleaze scandal that hasn’t had much attention is the rowdy antics of SNP MPs. The Nats profess to loathe Westminster and all its excesses, though the truth is their representatives in SW1 are some of the worst offenders. Alice Bailey is a former barmaid at the Sports and Social, which is usually the researchers’ watering hole but has been taken over in recent years by Nats old enough to be their fathers. She tells the Sun an SNP MP begged her for sex two hours into her first shift. Guido previously told the story of another young barmaid at Sports, who was told to “f**k off” by an SNP MP in his fifties when she tried to put a stop to his drunken behaviour:
“A young barmaid, only in her early twenties yet a seasoned veteran when it comes to turfing out unruly Westminster soaks, approaches a new SNP MP and politely asks him to pack it in. Words are exchanged. Multiple witnesses allege a drunken ‘f— you’ is uttered. Defeated, the barmaid retreats behind the bar to mocking male laughter. So upset is she by the incident, she will leave her job a few weeks later.”
Cybernats forever go on about “Wastemonster“. What they don’t see is how much their MPs enjoy it after hours…
The Mirror reveals this morning that David Prescott, Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet liason aide, has been suspended from the Labour Party. Fortunately the Mirror have a columnist who knows how he would sort out the sex pest scandal, his father, John Prescott. Currently David is suffering his suspension in silence…
What with all the talk of scandal in Westminster, the mind inevitably wanders to… Keith Vaz. It’s now more than 12 months since an official complaint about Vaz’s conduct was first made to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards (in September 2016). The Commissioner was asked to investigate whether Vaz broke the Code of Conduct for MPs when he was caught offering to pay for drugs for gay prostitutes. Vaz was Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee which handles prostitution and drugs legislation…
The Standards Commissioner said yesterday:
“The Commissioner doesn’t give updates and it is not possible to give an expected date for completion.”
Tory MP Andrew Bridgen, who submitted the complaint, said:
“I’m rapidly losing confidence in the parliamentary standards procedures. It often said that justice delayed is justice denied.”
Let’s hope all these new probes and inquiries and probes don’t take so long…
Director General, Propriety & Ethics Team
BEHAVIOUR OF DAMIAN GREEN
Since you haven’t contacted us with any inquiries about Damian Green we thought a note might be of assistance to your investigation.
In 2008 a parliamentary researcher contacted us and said she had been propositioned and invited by Damian Green to come back home with him after being told that his “wife was away”. She was furious and wanted us to expose him. We explained that would risk her name coming out if he denied it and sued. She did not want her name to come out and asked that we keep the matter confidential. Subsequently in an article we mentioned in passing that Damian Green was “not safe in taxis”. An intermediary contacted us to ask that we remove the reference to Mr Green, we declined on the grounds that it was true.
Recently, after we published the above story, a woman civil servant got in contact to tell us that she had been given an almost identical invitation. She is married and also would not want to be identified. She did however want us to know that the 2008 story was definitely not a one off.
If you make inquiries and guarantee confidentiality to informants we are confident you will find a widespread pattern of behaviour which is regularly very awkward for the young women Damian Green comes into contact with.
Yesterday the Observer reported:
“The Observer has been told by several sources that another Corbyn ally bragged about how his friendship with the Labour leader allowed him to get closer to women. There were also multiple claims that he asked a senior female party figure whether she would “twerk against him”. However no official complaint has been made to the party.”
Guido has been told several stories about a senior Corbyn ally who is accused of sexually harassing women. Staff are too scared to complain. He bragged last year that he uses his relationship with Jezza to get close to young women – and was reprimanded by a senior party figure for making the comment at the time. Sources say he keeps asking young female Labour members to go clubbing with him. The NEC is writing a harassment policy in an effort to clamp down on this…
The LibDems have finally been dragged into the Westminster sex scandal after a series of allegations were raised online over the weekend. One activist claims LibDem HQ hushed up a rape complaint made against a party activist: “the general LibDem HQ approach to dealing with sexual assault complaints is to say ‘report it to the police’ and then hush it up.”
A LibDem spokesperson confirmed to Guido a party member has been suspended:
[…] Read the rest
“These allegations were referred to the police for investigation.