Forty Conservative MPs have been outed in a leaked ‘sex pests’ document created by party staffers. And 21 of them are current or former ministers of government; several from Theresa May’s own cabinet.
The dirty dossier
The so-called ‘Westminster sex pest’ dossier was compiled and distributed by women working in Westminster. Some breaking allegations include senior members of the party. International Trade Minister Mark Garnier has admitted to calling his secretary “sugar tits” and making her buy his sex toys. And former party leadership candidate (and professed Christian) Stephen Crabb is said to have sent sexually explicit texts to a young woman who interviewed for a job with him. The married 44-year-old father of two has admitted sending the 19-year-old “some pretty outrageous things”.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon was also forced to admit an exchange with journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer from 2002. During a dinner, Fallon reportedly fondled the female journalist’s knee repeatedly, only stopping when she threatened to punch him in the face.
A redacted version of the spreadsheet was published by the Guido Fawkes blog, and later circulated around the Westminster press. Guido claims May’s closest ally, Deputy Prime Minister Damian Green, may also be implicated in the scandal, writing:
It is already in the public domain that Damian Green’s private email address was found on Ashley Madison in 2015, though he denied any involvement. As far back as 2008 Guido noted Green’s reputation for being “Not safe in taxis”. Shocked WhatsApp messages are pinging across Westminster as people piece together that it is the Deputy PM being referenced. Theresa May’s closest ally has effectively been outed.
Green denied using the Ashley Madison site at the time.
The behaviour the MPs are accused of ranges from “handsy at parties” to “video exists of three males urinating on him”:
There is no suggestion of any sexual wrongdoing by Justin Tomlinson or Steve Double.
In wake of the scandal, members of the public are calling on Theresa May to suspend the MPs while investigations are held. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn took swift action to suspend Labour MPs and staffers accused of antisemitism during the antisemitism row. And most recently, Labour suspended Sheffield Hallam MP Jared O’Mara for sexist and homophobic internet posts made in 2002-2003.
But so far, May has taken no public action against the alleged sex pests within her own party, some of them in government:
If the headline was about 36 Labour MPs @bbclaurak & co would be sat outside Corbyn's house tweeting unbridled dross – until he resigned.
— Rachael Swindon #GTTO (@Rachael_Swindon) October 30, 2017
Hi @theresa_may did you know when you called the snap election that 36 Tory MPs would be accused of stuff? If so you need to resign now
— Will Black (@WillBlackWriter) October 30, 2017
While May continues to procrastinate, the women working in Westminster know they are second-class citizens. No person should fear going to work because their boss or peer is engaging in threatening sexual behaviour. And it shouldn’t take the threat of violence to keep a colleague’s hands in their own lap at dinner. If it remains acceptable to engage in sexual harassment and abuse at the level of government, there is little hope of stamping such practices out elsewhere in our society. And if May is too compromised to hold her own party to account for these abuses, then it’s time to replace her with a prime minister that will.
Update: This article was updated at 19.20 on 31 October to delete a tweet that incorrectly suggested an MP had been suspended for using the word ‘bitch’.
– If you are a survivor of sexual assault, you can get support here.
– Contact your MP to make your views known. Do not remain silent.
– Be vocal on social media to help generate sufficient pressure for change.
Featured image via YouTube screengrab
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?