Liberal Democrat Women, have just issued this statement following Alistair Webster QC’s investigation in to Lord Rennard.
Liberal Democrat Women is whole heartedly against sexual harassment and unwanted indecent or sexually inappropriate advances of any kind. This includes within the workplace and throughout our Party at every level.
We believe strongly that positions of power should never be abused.
We need to trust that there was a thorough and impartial investigation. Whilst our Party has made mistakes in the past we need to look to the future and ensure that the culture in the Party continues to change following the suite of measures implemented following the Morrissey Review and those measures are remain under constant review.
We expect an apology from Lord Rennard to the women to whom he has caused distress.
As an organisation, we take seriously any complaints made by our members and any women who come to us with concerns.
We need to ensure that there are robust procedures in place for the party to handle similar complaints. We particularly commend the appointment of a Pastoral Care Officer Jeanne Tarrant to facilitate such complaints.
We realise that the problems we have been facing in our Party feature more widely in the political sphere, and we are working to address this both cross-party and with outside organisations.
Chair Liberal Democrat Women
They reiterate the need for Lord Rennard to apologise.
Liberal Democrat internal campaign group ‘Rock the Boat –Lib Dems Against Sexual Harrassment’, have responded to the announcement that no charges have been made against Lord Rennard, a former Chief Executive of the Liberal Democrats who sits in the House of Lords.
‘Rock the Boat’ are keen to ensure that the decision made by the Metropolitan Police and Crown Prosecution Service does not unduly influence any ongoing or future internal investigations into conduct of party members. This decision should also not be used as an excuse to ignore the issue of sexual harassment within all political parties and wider society.
This was recently handled by the Liberal Democrats at their Conference in Glasgow, where the party made committed to tackling all forms of harassment and bullying through changing its constitution. The party has also introduced training courses applicable at various levels throughout the party to ensure situations such as those alleged to have occurred do not get repeated.
He seems rather proud of it too. Here is a screenshot from a post on his Facebook page:
Not only that though, he’s been busy at work campaigning for and speaking at Liberal Democrat events.
Posts again on his Facebook page show him happily announcing that he has been campaigning in Eastbourne and speaking at a dinner in Liverpool.
Chris Rennard denies all allegations of sexual harassment made against him, and must be considered innocent until proven to be otherwise. However, that doesn’t mean that he should continue to behave in this arrogant manner while the police and party investigations are ongoing.
He is putting members of the party in an awkward position, and trying to humiliate the women who came forward and made the allegations.
Rennard voluntarily stepped away from the Lib Dem Lords team when the allegations arose, but now seems to be pompously bringing himself back into the fold before the investigations have run their course. Until then he should stay away from formal party events and campaigning.
Lord Rennard does not have to disappear from his working life, but he does have to behave with respect and sensitivity.
In the light of serious sexual harassment allegations, Lib Dem peer Lord Rennard has understandably been keeping a low profile.
The party’s former chief exec and campaign guru returned yesterday though to ask a question in the Lords Queen’s Speech debate. When I saw Spectator contributing editor Harry Cole tweet what he had asked about, I couldn’t believe it:
I am proud of the way in which I helped my party to achieve gender balance when we began electing our MEPs by proportional representation. When I oversaw my party’s European election campaign in 1999, I had to rank all the constituencies in order of winnability to ensure that half of our top candidates were women. We elected 12 MEPs in those elections, six women and six men, but this relied on the party using a system known as “zipping”.
Lord Rennard denies all allegations made against him, and he must be considered innocent until proven guilty. However, the utter shamelessness of this intervention shows utter disrespect for the investigation process he is currently subject too, and the women bravely making the allegations.
Lord Rennard is accused of abusing his influence over candidate selection, yet in the speech above he proudly trumpets his own work in that area.
The contempt he shows for the situation he is in really does beggar belief.
In the wake of sexual harassment claims it’s beginning to be noticed that the Lib Dems aren’t putting up many women in the media.
It seems odd that women wouldn’t want to go in and explain the issues, and show the Lib Dems are responding to concerns of women:
Jenny Willott – Maternity leave.
Jo Swinson – May have questions to answer on case.
Lynne Featherstone – Possibly should be going in to explain issues.
Sarah Teather – Can’t preach on equality after voting against equal marraige.
Tessa Munt – Not senior enough, and not around at the time.
Annette Brooke – Really not a big hitter for this occasion.
Rather demonstrates the practical problems of a lack of lack of diversity, doesn’t it?
Update: It’s rightly been pointed out I forgot Lorely Burt. She is Chair of the Parliamentary party, so again like Featherstone could possibly face the media, but has never really got involved in ‘women’s’ issues, focussing more on small business.