A third of Westminster staff 'sexually harassed at work'

Apr 11, 2014

Harassment 'part of Westminster culture', with two in five young male workers propositioned

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

ONE person in three working in Westminster has experienced some form of sexual harassment at work, an investigation has revealed.

The figure is even higher for men – two in five young male workers say they have received unwanted sexual attention, according to a Channel 4 News documentary.

Fewer than half of the 70 people interviewed for the programme had no knowledge of sexual harassment in parliament.

All interviewees spoke on condition of anonymity to the documentary makers so as not to jeopardise their careers. One worker said he had been propositioned by a politician at an event for activists.

"I was asked to go to the gents by a certain MP who had always been a nice guy," he said. "I just brushed it off. The MP suggested I go to the toilets with him at about 1am, but then at 3am I saw him going back to his hotel room with a guy who looked about 18."

The investigation found that men were more likely to be harassed than women.

One female worker said: "I watched men coming on to men, and men hiring men that they wanted to sleep with. I saw male MPs and researchers having relationships. When I was there, older men would explore their sexuality and be predatory to younger men."

Ben Summerskill, a gay rights campaigner, said the problem has become ingrained and is common to both parties.

"Sexual harassment is part of the culture of Westminster. In the last decade I've heard of dozens of cases from men and women," he said. "People are vulnerable as they're often political obsessives and have never worked anywhere else.

"For both sexes the MP can say that if they oblige them, it might help their career enormously. There's no HR, no structure for people management or supervision."

Labour MP Sarah Champion said that Westminster's response to the problem had been "shocking".

"Abuse is all about a power imbalance," she said. "We [need to] get more support in for younger staff members so that there is somewhere for them to go."

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Looks to me as tho men in general have a terrible problem with their 'thingy'! Are they all getting trained in this dubious behavior from boyhood? Why? Can't we talk about this openly and train kids accordingly, so they will not be a problem to others? This subject needs to be unraveled, this is an issue for society in general. If 'the itch' is too much to handle, then we need as a society to give everyone a way to fix that so we can get on with other things - and I don't mean prostitution ! Otherwise we have to regard all men as walking penises and too dangerous to be left as-is ! Women may get 'itches' too but they generally do not seem to be attacking anyone. I suspect they all just 'fix it' themselves. A really beautiful part of human life is being turned into a disgusting area of sleazedom !!!!

Westminster is a cesspool,if MP's aren't falsifying their expenses or taking junkets at the taxpayers expense they appear to be sexually harassing junior employees,what a group of scumbags.

...too many public school products at Westminster. I don't have a problem with my "thingy" - my "training" was in the Army - a healthy, red-blooded "cesspit" of heterosexual hyper-activity!