Crime

Labour activist: I was silenced after being sexually assaulted by another male party member

Josh Jackman November 3, 2017
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The Houses of Parliament are seen in London on October 31, 2017. Prime Minister Theresa May came under pressure on Tuesday to take action against alleged sex pests in her own cabinet amid swirling rumours in Westminster about inappropriate behaviour by several lawmakers. Defence Secretary Michael Fallon apologised for putting his hand on a female journalist's knee in 2002 and the cabinet is investigating another minister, Mark Garnier, who asked his now former aide to buy him sex toys and called her "sugar tits". British media have reported on the existence of a list of sexual allegations about around 40 Conservative MPs including six ministers that was apparently compiled by disgruntled former employees. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / The erroneous mention[s] appearing in the metadata of this photo by Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS has been modified in AFP systems in the following manner: [The Houses of Parliament are seen in London on October 31, 2017] instead of [Chancellor of the Exchequor Philip Hammond leaves his office in Downing Street...]. Please immediately remove the erroneous mention[s] from all your online services and delete it (them) from your servers. If you have been authorized by AFP to distribute it (them) to third parties, please ensure that the same actions are carried out by them. Failure to promptly comply with these instructions will entail liability on your part for any continued or post notification usage. Therefore we thank you very much for all your attention and prompt action. We are sorry for the inconvenience this notification may cause and remain at your disposal for any further information you may require. (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)

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A Labour activist was sexually assaulted at a party event and told not to report his abuser, he has claimed.

He said his attacker, who now advises Labour MPs, “forced his hands down my trousers, feeling my flaccid penis and clutching my face to try and kiss me.”

When the alleged victim, who was 20 at the time, reported the abuse at a Labour Students disco in 2013, a senior member said that “it would not be very wise to pursue my case.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 25: The Union flag flies between Labour party flags during the Labour party conference at the ACC on September 25, 2016 in Liverpool, England. Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is rallying members hoping to re-unite the party after being re-elected leader yesterday. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
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And he recalled that others in Labour told him that “I should be careful – he’s a clever guy, he’ll be out to get you.”

Writing on the Mirror Online, the man – who wanted to remain anonymous – said Labour Students was “a competitive, sometimes nasty and often alcohol-fuelled environment.

“It’s a breeding ground for hushed-up sexual harassment,” he added.

The abuse followed a Burns Night Supper in Edinburgh attended by more than 100 people, including then-Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont and other high-profile party figures.

Many of the guests went to the Edinburgh Students’ Union for a party, where the alleged victim found himself dancing alongside a man he already knew.

Scaffolding around the Elizabeth Tower, commonly called Big Ben, is seen during ongoing renovations to the Tower and the Houses of Parliament, in central London on November 1, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Chris J Ratcliffe        (Photo credit should read CHRIS J RATCLIFFE/AFP/Getty Images)
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“Then,” he said, “out of the blue and without saying a single word,” the man forced himself on the activist.

“I was stunned. I didn’t know who to turn to and, the room being so dark, it wouldn’t have been obvious what had just happened.

“My only priority was to get away from him.

“I pushed him away and left that part of the dance floor. I spent the rest of the night on the edge of the event.”

He said that “the next day, I had to sit alongside my attacker in party workshops.”

The Houses of Parliament are seen next to the River Thames in central London on October 31, 2017. Prime Minister Theresa May came under pressure on Tuesday to take action against alleged sex pests in her own cabinet amid swirling rumours in Westminster about inappropriate behaviour by several lawmakers. Defence Secretary Michael Fallon apologised for putting his hand on a female journalist's knee in 2002 and the cabinet is investigating another minister, Mark Garnier, who asked his now former aide to buy him sex toys and called her "sugar tits". British media have reported on the existence of a list of sexual allegations about around 40 Conservative MPs including six ministers that was apparently compiled by disgruntled former employees.  / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS        (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
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The situation only spiralled from there, he said.

“I had hardly processed what he did to me when he turned nasty.

“Within a day, he began making vicious comments and bad-mouthing me. He would say I was a bad person, I couldn’t be trusted or I shouldn’t be the candidate for something.

“It would be the start of a more than a year of attacks to undermine me within the party.”

The student, barely out of his teens, said his attacker reacted with a concerted campaign to ensure he never had to face any consequences for the abuse.

“It didn’t occur to me at the time, but he was very clever. Much cleverer than me.

The Houses of Parliament are pictured from the south bank of the River Thames in central London on November 1, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Chris J Ratcliffe        (Photo credit should read CHRIS J RATCLIFFE/AFP/Getty Images)
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“He sought to immediately put me on the back foot, scaring me before I would have the confidence to report him,” he said.

The alleged victim said that “at the time, I could hardly process what had happened for myself, let alone work out how to explain it to others.”

Weeks later, he told a Labour Students member who was more senior than him.

The figure, who “wasn’t qualified to assess what I was describing,” tried to dissuade him for reporting the abuse.

“I felt powerless. There was no indication of how to report the assault, no support and no sense that if I pursued him, it wouldn’t damage my career.”

And with others in the party warning him to be “careful,” he stopped pursuing justice.

“I really wanted to get somewhere in Labour, so I’m ashamed to say I cowered away,” he said.

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“Reporting it to police didn’t even cross my mind. It didn’t occur to me that such behaviour would be taken seriously as a crime.

“More than 12 months later, I was left alone with him for the first time since the attack. I had been drinking with friends in a bar popular with MPs and their staff.

“I didn’t know he would be there beforehand, and I was very nervous to be left alone with him.

“He smashed a Prosecco glass on the table, swore he would ruin me, and stormed out. It was so absurd, I realised it was the first time I wasn’t afraid of him.”

A statue of British former prime minister Winston Churchill, is seen next to a union flag flying at half mast from the roof of the Houses of Parliament in honour of slain Labour MP Jo Cox in London on June 17, 2016. Labour MP Jo Cox, a 41-year-old former aid worker also known for her advocacy for Syrian refugees, was killed on June 16, outside a library where she was supposed to meet constituents in Birstall in northern England, just a few miles (kilometres) from where she was born.  / AFP / Daniel Leal-Olivas        (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
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The alleged victim said his attacker is not an MP, but “he is working in parliament, sitting at the party’s top table advising MPs on the policies a Labour government should pursue.

“The thought that he could abuse more people, and amass more power, terrifies me.”

He was driven to go public now “after seeing the shocking stories from Westminster and the likes of activist Bex Bailey, who says the party hushed up her rape report”.

“What pushed me to speak out was the pattern of behaviour he used to stop me talking about it, or if I did, to stop me being believed.”

He said that the latest reports of harassment, “and the serious words from the likes of Jeremy Corbyn,” had given him the confidence he needed to open up about the allegations.

Four years on, he said, he could “finally report my abuser.”

A Union flags flies at half mast over Portcullis House in front of the clock face of Queen Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben) at the Houses of Parliament in honour of slain Labour MP Jo Cox in London on June 20, 2016. British lawmakers gathered Monday to honour a murdered colleague, attempting a rare show of unity in a heated, neck-and-neck race for votes three days before a referendum on whether to quit the EU.  / AFP / Niklas HALLE'N        (Photo credit should read NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images)
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A Labour spokeswoman told the Mirror Online that the party “takes all complaints of sexual harassment, abuse and discrimination extremely seriously and any evidence that is presented to us of such misconduct will always be thoroughly investigated.

“We ask that anyone with a complaint comes forward so that a proper investigation can be carried out and when evidence of misconduct comes to light, all appropriate disciplinary action will be taken in line with the Party’s rule book and procedures.”

She added: “Any individual with allegations of a criminal nature should contact the police and we urge them to do so.”

Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities Dawn Butler has been asked for comment. We’ll add it here if she responds.

Related topics: alleged abuse, alleged assault, alleged crime, Labour party, parliament, police, Politics, Scotland, UK

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