Labour defends process as employee ‘keeps job after harassment claim upheld’

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Sir Keir Starmer continues to have confidence in Labour’s process for investigating allegations of wrongdoing despite a staff member reportedly being allowed to keep their job after sexual harassment claims against them were upheld, a party spokesman has said.

A parliamentary investigation – one of two inquiries reportedly carried out into claims of groping – ruled that the senior employee should write a letter of apology, but no further action was said to have been taken.

A Labour spokesman said the party’s complaints handling process is “independent”, “robust” and seen as carrying out “best practice”.

Asked by reporters after Prime Minister’s Questions whether Sir Keir continues to have confidence in the processes in place following the reported outcome, the spokesman replied that the party leader does.

Political website Politico reported that the Labour Party took three years to investigate a complaint of sexual harassment against a senior party aide, who was said to be 20 years older than the former colleague who lodged the claim.

The complaint that the staff member allegedly groped the complainant was upheld twice by two different inquiries, the website reported.

The internal process available to parliamentary staff at the time of the complaint led to the alleged culprit being told to write a letter of apology, while the same complaint registered with the Labour Party in 2020 saw the man told he would receive a final warning, Politico reported.

“They are recognised experts when it comes to dealing with these sorts of investigations,” he said.

“The view that I think is widely held, which is why Parliament also has an independent process, is actually that that is the best way to do it so that there can be no suggestion of it operating with fear or favour when it comes to individuals.

“Their conclusion was the conclusion that we have accepted and followed.”

Asked whether the independent process decided whether the person could keep their job, the spokesman said: “The independent process gives the conclusion as to what the tariff should be for the individual situation.”

The spokesman confirmed the parliamentary investigation recommended the sanction be a letter of apology to the alleged victim, who Politico described as a former intern who was in her early 20s at the time of the alleged incident.

Pressed on whether Labour thought the punishment of a letter was suitable, the spokesman replied: “If you have independent processes, you have to recognise it is for independent processes to determine the outcome of what is appropriate in those individual circumstances.”

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