A third of Westminster staff 'sexually harassed at work'
Harassment 'part of Westminster culture', with two in five young male workers propositioned
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."