Labour accused of ‘dragging its feet’ over sexual harassment

Labour accused of ‘dragging its feet’ over sexual harassment

Monday, September 17, 2018

A young Labour activist who claimed she was raped at a party event has accused Labour of “dragging its feet” over sexual harassment within its ranks.

Bex Bailey, a former member of the party’s ruling National Executive Committee, waived her right to anonymity to describe how she was sexually assaulted as a 19-year-old in 2011.

While the party commissioned a report by an independent QC in response to her allegations, she said that a year on from her original claims it had yet to act on the findings.

She said the report, by Karon Monaghan QC, had found sexual harassment was “rife” within the party.

Labour denied delaying action, saying it had already taken steps to improve its procedures.

Ms Bailey said she believed Ms Monaghan’s report had not yet been shown to all members of the NEC and that she was only allowed to read it at the party’s headquarters under supervision.

She told BBC Radio 4: "To be honest I don't know why the party is dragging its feet on this.”

"I know that Karon's report has found that not only is sexual harassment rife in the Labour Party, as we've all known and feared, which is the reason why I did the interview originally, but actually that it's not being dealt with.

"It's not just my case that's not been handled properly, but we've got a situation where the report clearly says that senior members of the Labour Party even have closed their eyes to these issues.

"They have trivialised sexual harassment, accommodated it and not handled it as they should have done, and I think now is the time finally to start taking this seriously, put it back on the agenda."

 

‘Nightmare stories’

Ms Bailey said Ms Monaghan's report had found she was not the only woman to have been treated "unacceptably and inappropriately" after suffering harassment, and that there was a lack of confidence in the system for dealing with complaints.

She said: "I know people who are going through the process at the moment who are having a nightmare time, nightmare stories of evidence being lost, delays in the case of over a year; a lack of communication.”

A party spokesman said the measures adopted to strengthen its procedures included the creation of a dedicated helpline for members to report complaints, anonymising complaints and the appointment of an independent organisation offering specialist advice to those affected.

They said: "The Labour Party is committed to continually improving our procedures for dealing with sexual harassment complaints and we thank Bex Bailey for her work to improve these procedures and for her incredible bravery.”

"Karon Monaghan QC's report assessed the party's previous procedures, which we recognise were not fit for purpose. These procedures have since been improved.

"The party is currently considering further changes to our procedures in light of Karon Monaghan QC's report, to ensure sexual harassment complaints are always dealt with promptly, fairly and with utmost confidentiality."