Lib Dems say Clegg was unaware of sexual harassment claimsCurrent affairsNewsPolitics & Social issues
Nick Clegg has said he was unaware of sexual harassment allegations against former Liberal Democrat Executive Chair, Lord Chris Rennard.
On 21st February, Channel 4 aired claims of Rennard’s sexual harassment. Since the controversial show, a Lib-Dem Party inquiry has been set up.
Party President, Tim Fallon, said in an interview to Channel 4 on 22nd February that Clegg only knew about the allegations when the show aired.
When asked if Clegg might have known about the allegations before, Fallon replied: “I’m sure that’s not the case,” adding the allegations are taken “dead seriously…having said that, a person is innocent until proven guilty”.
Vince Cable said the inquiry will: “establish exactly who said what to whom and whether these allegations were properly pursued at the time…rather than jump to conclusions we should just wait until this investigation has taken place.”
The complaints were first taken to Women’s Minister Jo Swinston and MP Paul Berstow.
The alleged victims received an email in 2008 stating: “there has been a long standing problem with a number of women where the abuse of Chris’s [Rennard’s] position was clearly inappropriate” and that talks with “somebody senior in the party” meant Rennards had “been informed that the behaviour has to stop.”
In a statement after the Channel 4 show, Lord Rennard said: “in 27 years working for the Liberal Democrat Party, not a single personal complaint was ever made against me to my knowledge.”
At a conference on 19th of September 2009, Clegg praised Rennard saying: “if it wasn’t for [Rennard’s] guidance and encouragement I wouldn’t have been elected as an MP…let alone now be running the party…we are immensely, immensely grateful for it.”
Rennard is known for his numerous political successes in by-elections. He is also an International Fund Raising (IFR) consultant.
A parliament gossip blog from 8th May 2011 about Rennard and the IFR hinted at Rennard’s alleged inappropriate behaviour.
It read: “It doesn’t look as though [Rennard] will have many junior staff to worry about, [IFR] appears to have only one female trainee for 23 consultants and associates. She might then find herself pulled in too many other directions to service the needs of Lord Rennard.”
The Liberal Democrats Constitution (last updated November 2012) states the party “oppose all forms of entrenched privilege and inequality”.