A shadow minister has denied acting inappropriately after witnesses alleged he made offensive sexual comments about a cancer survivor’s breasts and slapped a woman on her buttocks.
The Labour MP Karl Turner, a shadow transport minister, is alleged to have said “I couldn’t help myself” when challenged after allegedly smacking the women’s bottom at his constituency office in 2015.
Anonymous witnesses also told the Financial Times (paywall) that the Hull East MP told a woman who had had a double mastectomy that she “shouldn’t have got rid of her real tits because they were great” and then said: “The ones you’ve got now are nice enough.”
The FT said it had approached the woman involved who had confirmed the incident happened but had not wished to comment further.
In a statement issued after the FT published its story online on Monday, Turner said: “I am aware of reports in the media about my alleged inappropriate behaviour. I strongly reject any suggestion that I behaved inappropriately or in a misogynistic manner.”
A Labour spokesman appealed for anyone with a complaint to contact the party to allow allegations to be fully investigated. “The party takes all complaints of sexual harassment, abuse and discrimination extremely seriously,” he said.
“We ask that anyone with a complaint comes forward so that allegations can be fully investigated, and any appropriate disciplinary action taken in line with the party’s rule book and procedures.”
One witness reportedly made a complaint to the Labour party about Turner on behalf of the woman in December, but was told the complaint had to come from the individual involved.
Two Labour MPs, Ivan Lewis and Kelvin Hopkins, are being investigated following allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct respectively, which they deny. The men have been referred to Labour’s most senior disciplinary committee.
Numerous harassment claims against MPs surfaced during the #MeToo campaign in response to abuse allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, which led to a cross-party group being set up to examine the issue, chaired by House of Commons leader Andrea Leadsom.
The working group has proposed a new independent complaints procedure for parliamentary staff and penalties that can include the MP concerned losing their seat. MPs have yet to vote on the new guidelines.
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Source: The Guardian