Cabinet ministers are named as “sex pests to avoid” in a secret WhatsApp group of female staff at Westminster, it is claimed. Allegations against specific politicians range from “very handsy” and “not safe in taxis” to “groped my arse at drinks party.”
Another message warns women not to “get in the lift” with a certain male MP, while another says “watch out for… at conference.” Other messages claim senior MPs have sex in Parliamentary offices, that bosses refer to female employees as “sugar tits” and demand affairs, and that one MP demanded that staff buy sex toys as gifts.
A source told the Sun that some of the worst offenders’ names are widely known, but that the list was being put together “so new arrivals could be warned.” Many of the accused are said to be “the usual old suspects,” but one poster said they also include “surprising younger names.”
A source said: “For years we have all been looking out for each other. It’s like, so-and-so is hiring, but it can’t be a woman for him.’”
The explosive list could spark a fresh scandal at the Houses of Parliament and lead to high-profile resignations. Former and current Cabinet ministers, senior frontbenchers – Tory and Labour – peers and aides have all been accused, the tabloid says. Sources say the first MP could be exposed by the weekend and one said resignations are “anticipated.”
Tory whips have also reportedly drawn up a “lechers list” of badly-behaved MPs whom they are forced to keep a close eye on due to the government’s wafer-thin majority. Some party whips have been seen patrolling bars and terraces to stop bad behavior, according to the Sun.
The revelations come after Labour MP John Mann said earlier this week he was ready to name and shame a party colleague who had treated a young woman “appallingly.” He used the Commons to suggest a colleague had been reported for bad behavior on an official trip, though the incident had been hushed up.
Two senior female Tories have also spoken out about the abuse received by women in Westminster. Baroness Jenkin said: “Men used to hit on you all the time. They would say ‘I had a dream about you last night.’ These things affect people differently.”
Former Cabinet minister Maria Miller claimed she “experienced far more sexual harassment as an MP than in my 20-year career in advertising and marketing.” She added: “This is not a thing of the past – we need to see it as a present day concern.”
News of the WhatsApp group comes in the wake of the #MeToo social media phenomenon which has seen women around the world speak out about sexual harassment.