Trade union leaders have called for Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak to “reset the culture” at Westminster and properly tackle abusive behaviour, after two women alleged they had been assaulted by a minister now in the cabinet, and by a Downing Street aide.
Mike Clancy, the general secretary of Prospect, a trade union representing civil servants and parliamentary staff, said whoever took over from Boris Johnson as prime minister next week had a duty to take the issue seriously.
Sky News reported that one woman was sexually assaulted by someone who subsequently became a cabinet minister, while the other was groped by a man who later got a role inside No 10.
Clancy said such complaints needed to be properly handled: “Now we have a new prime minister, potentially from Monday, and this is an opportunity to reset the culture and show the leadership that hasn’t been there in the past. And I’m hoping that the new prime minister will be able to clean this up and deal with a toxic culture.”
Jawad Raza, a national officer for the FDA, which represents civil servants, said: “The latest reports of alleged sexual misconduct are hard to hear, but unfortunately not surprising. They act as a stark of reminder that things still need to change.
“Politicians, including the next prime minister, need to show some leadership in addressing these issues, and enforcing standards both in parliament and across government.”
The woman who said she was assaulted by the minister told Sky: “I was in my early 20s and didn’t really know how to deal with it. I was super drunk, he is feeding me more wine and I am already quite obviously tanked, but after a while I was like, ‘You know what? Would you mind if I just went to bed?’ So I went to bed, but obviously he didn’t leave me alone.”
She told colleagues and the MP she was working for at the time of the incident, who encouraged her to report it to the police. But after initial discussions with the police she chose not to proceed further and did not make a formal complaint to the Conservative party.
The other woman interviewed by Sky’s The Open Secret podcast said that after the man who groped her got a job in Downing Street she made a series of complaints, but no action was taken.
She also alleged that on hearing of the allegation, the man’s boss dismissed it on the grounds that the accused person was “good-looking and had women throwing themselves at him”.