UK Prime Minister, Theresa May is urging anyone with information to come forward over “deeply concerning” claims of sexual harassment in Westminster.
Concerns of sexual improprieties went spiral following allegations made about movie mogul Harvey Weinstein by a number of women working in Hollywood.
Downing Street confirmed that the Prime Minister will take allegations “extremely seriously”, following reports Cabinet ministers have been named among a list of politicians accused of inappropriate behaviour and abuse.
The Prime Minister was said to be unaware of any allegations having been formally reported.
According to The Sun, a WhatsApp group of female employees at Westminster is used to warn members about MPs and other senior figures from across the political parties.
A spokeswoman said: “Any reports of sexual harassment are deeply concerning. The Prime Minister was very clear when we responded to the reports about Harvey Weinstein in the last few weeks that any unwanted sexual behaviour is completely unacceptable, and that is true in any walk of life – including politics”.
“Any allegations that may come to light will be taken extremely seriously and we would advise people to contact the police if there is such an allegation so that it’s fully investigated”, she stressed.
Asked if claims about a minister would lead to their sacking by Mrs May, the spokeswoman added: “She would take it extremely seriously and serious action would be taken where it’s necessary.”
Downing Street also advised allegations that may not warrant a police investigation could be made to House of Commons officials or party authorities.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn shared the Prime Minister’s comments, telling LBC Radio: “There has to be a proper system of people, women in particular, being able to report if they’ve been abused in any way and have it dealt with in a timely and proper manner”.
He continued: “Our party, the Labour Party, has a process of doing that both for employees of party officials, MPs and councillors, but also for party members who feel they’ve been abused in any way.”
The reported WhatsApp group, said to include female researchers, secretaries and aides, is claimed to include warnings such as “very handy”, “not safe in taxis” and “groped my a*** at a drinks party”.
Meanwhile, a Labour MP, John Mann at the weekend revealed he had named one of his fellow Labour MPs to Jeremy Corbyn and the party’s chief whip. Mr Mann alleged the MP had “behaved appallingly towards a young woman”.
“This case and a non-Labour one I have raised demonstrate a shocking lack of any system for dealing with this in Westminster”, Mann wrote in a tweet.
In furtherance of government’s effort, Parliamentary officials said there is a free and confidential 24/7 helpline provided by the House of Commons for all MPs’ staff.
A House of Commons spokesperson said: “The House of Commons takes the welfare of everyone who works in Parliament very seriously. The House is limited in its ability to intervene in employment matters, such as allegations of bullying or harassment by MPs of their staff as MPs are self-employed and employ their staff directly.”