Labour MP Harriet Harman responds to Sir Roger Gale, says: Sexual harassment claims are “no witch hunt”

In an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster, Ms Harman said: “There are a lot of men saying this has been blown out of all proportion, it’s a witch hunt. No, it’s not a witch hunt, it’s long overdue.”

The Labour MP believes that the UK Parliament has a “sea change opportunity” to help those who speak out.

She also said: “If you point your finger at a powerful man, they won’t just sit there, they will fight back. So there will be some backlash about this amongst the corridors [of Westminster].”

Sir Roger Gale, Conservative MP for North Thanet, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Saturday morning, that the scandal is turning into a “witch hunt”, and urged people not to rush judgement.

He said: ”I don’t think there’s anybody who would seek to defend rape or sexual abuse in the context there’s no proof that I can see yet of any wrongdoing. How does a member of Parliament refute that?”

His comments on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme follow the allegations against defence secretary, Michael Fallon, who resigned from the cabinet last Wednesday, and the circulation of a spreadsheet detailing claims against 40 Tory MPs, almost all unverified, on social media.

Rupa Huq, Labour MP for Ealing Central and Acton, told BBC Breakfast that the House of Commons lacks a structured system for complaints.

She claims the policy around sexual harassment are “lax if not non-existent”.

“In this sense it needs to get into line. Other big companies have a sexual harassment policy, they have a staff handbook. All those things do not exist for MPs.”

On Friday, the Conservatives updated their code of conduct and are immediately employing a new complaints policy.

Mrs May will be meeting with opposition party leaders on Monday to discuss proposals for a new grievance procedure for MPs and Westminster staff.

Words:Ainaa Mashrique| Subbing:Rituja Rao

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