UK Labour to investigate activist’s rape claim against senior figure
Bex Bailey says staff member she told about incident suggested she not report it
Bex Bailey (25), a former member of Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee, was 19 at the time of the attack. Photograph: Twitter
The British Labour Party is launching an independent investigation after an activist said she was raped by a senior party figure six years ago and discouraged from reporting the attack by a party staffer. Bex Bailey (25), a former member of Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee, was 19 at the time of the attack.
She said she did not report the rape to anyone at first, including the police, fearing that she might not be believed.
“I was scared, I felt ashamed, I know that the Labour Party, like any family, loves a good gossip – and I didn’t want people to know and I also was worried that I wouldn’t be believed if I did,” she told BBC Radio 4.
Two years after the attack, however, she confided in a senior party staffer, seeing advice on what she should do.
“It took me a while to summon up the courage to tell anyone in the party,” she said. “But when I did, I told a senior member of staff, who told me . . . or it was suggested to me that I not report it. I was told that if I did it might damage me – and that might be their genuine view, it might be that that was the case, in which case that shows that we have a serious problem in politics with this issue anyway.”
Labour urged the police to investigate Ms Bailey’s allegations, adding that it would launch an independent investigation into the conduct of the staff member.
Tory harassment claims
Ms Bailey’s revelation came as a spreadsheet documenting alleged sexual harassment and misbehaviour by 40 Conservative MPs was published online. The spreadsheet, which was compiled by a group of Conservative researchers and party members, alleges inappropriate behaviour with female and male staff by more than half of the MPs on the list.
The other MPs on the list, who include cabinet ministers, are not accused of any inappropriate activity but have been in consensual relationships or have had sexual peccadilloes reported publicly in the past.
Theresa May’s official spokesman said on Tuesday that the prime minister believed defence secretary Michael Fallon was right to apologise for placing his hand on a female journalist’s knee 15 years ago. The journalist, Julia Hartley-Brewer, has said she does not regard the incident as “anything but mildly amusing” and the Downing Street spokesman made clear that the prime minister also regards it as in the past.
Other allegations in the spreadsheet include a claim that one cabinet minister is “handsy”, that one backbench MP is “perpetually intoxicated and very inappropriate with women” and that another has a “long history” of being inappropriate with male researchers. Another MP is alleged to have “paid a female to be quiet”, another is accused of being the subject of an injunction for inappropriate behaviour with a woman, and yet another is alleged to have “made” a former staff member have an abortion after she became pregnant by him.