International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said she has experienced the ‘wandering hands’ of ‘half a dozen’ male colleagues in Westminster.
29 April 2022
A female Cabinet minister has said she was once “pinned up against a wall” by a male MP as she told colleagues to “keep your hands in your pockets” amid renewed accusations of misogyny and sexual misconduct in Parliament.
International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan told LBC Radio: “I’ve witnessed and been at the sharp end of misogyny from some colleagues many times over.
“We might describe it as wandering hands, if you like, we might describe it as, you know, a number of years ago being pinned up against a wall by a male MP who is now no longer in the House, I’m pleased to say, declaring that I must want him because he was a powerful man.
“These sorts of things, these power abuses, that a very small minority, thank goodness, of male colleagues show is completely unacceptable”.
Ms Trevelyan added she had been subjected to “wandering hands” by “half a dozen” men in Westminster, some of whom were “repeat offenders”.
On Sky News, the Trade Secretary told male colleagues to “keep your hands in your pockets and behave as you would if you had your daughter in the room”.
She said the vast majority of her male colleagues are “delightful” and “committed parliamentarians”.
Ms Trevelyan added: “But there are a few for whom too much drink, or indeed a sort of, a view that somehow being elected makes them, you know, God’s gift to women, that they can suddenly please themselves, that is never OK, that kind of behaviour, disrespect for women.”
It comes as Boris Johnson comes under growing pressure to remove the whip from a Tory MP accused of watching pornography in the Commons chamber and as a growing chorus of senior ministers hit out at Westminster’s “shameful” culture.
Ms Trevelyan described the claims as “completely unacceptable”, but declined to say whether the unnamed Conservative MP should be sacked and denied that her party specifically has a misogyny problem.
“I haven’t had the chance to talk to the chief whip, and I know the ladies in question who apparently saw this completely, completely inappropriate activity have been encouraged to use the formal system in the House of Commons to be able to report it, and I hope very much that they will or indeed have, I don’t know, and that the system will demonstrate if that was the case, exactly what the punishment should be for that sort of inappropriate behaviour.”
She also said she is confident that chief whip Chris Heaton-Harris will “take a decision that’s appropriate”.
The charge levelled against the unnamed Tory is set to be examined under Parliament’s Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS), which investigates allegations of harassment and sexual misconduct.
On Thursday, the Prime Minister described the porn-watching allegations as “totally unacceptable”.
During a visit to Burnley, Mr Johnson told broadcasters: “What needs to happen now is that the proper procedures need to be gone through, the independent complaints and grievances procedure needs to be activated and we need to get to understand the facts but, yeah, that kind of behaviour is clearly totally unacceptable.”
Mr Heaton-Harris called for the independent investigation after the porn-watching allegations surfaced during a meeting of Tory MPs at Westminster on Tuesday.
A spokeswoman for Mr Heaton-Harris said: “Following allegations of inappropriate behaviour in the House of Commons, the chief whip has asked that this matter be referred to the ICGS.
“Upon the conclusion of any ICGS investigation the chief whip will take appropriate action.”
Under the ICGS, an investigator would examine the case and Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Kathryn Stone would then make a finding.
In a serious case like this a sanction would normally be decided by the Independent Expert Panel (IEP), which would also hear any appeal.
The IEP could recommend sanctions including expulsion from the Commons or a suspension – which could potentially trigger a by-election under the recall process if it is for longer than 10 sitting days.
Only witnesses to the pornography-viewing could make a complaint about the MP under the ICGS.
Attorney General Suella Braverman said if the subject of the complaint was found to have been watching adult material it should result in them “no longer holding their privileged position as a Member of Parliament”.
The minister told BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour if the claims were found to be true, the whip should be removed – “I’m ashamed this person is carrying a Conservative rosette” – and the MP could be expelled or subjected to a recall process.
The claims about pornography followed reports that 56 MPs, including three Cabinet ministers, are facing allegations of sexual misconduct referred to the ICGS.
They also follow outrage over The Mail On Sunday publishing “sexist” and disputed claims from unnamed Tory MPs that deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner tried to distract Mr Johnson with her legs during Prime Minister’s Questions.