LONDON (Parliament Politics Magazine) – In the midst of increasing scrutiny concerning harassment in Parliament, a female cabinet minister has said she was once “pinned up against a wall” by a male MP.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the International Trade Secretary, said she had been subjected to “wandering hands” and misogyny on several occasions.
Her remarks come after a Tory MP was accused of watching porn on his phone in the Commons earlier this week.
Debates have been reignited over female MPs’ working environment due to this.
The allegations of pornography have been reported to Parliament’s conduct watchdog, which might initiate an independent investigation.
Ms Trevelyan told LBC radio that she had “many times over witnessed and been at the sharp end of misogyny from some colleagues.”
When asked what form this took, she said it could be described as wandering hands.
You could compare it to, a lot of years ago, being pinned against a wall by a male MP – who, she was pleased to say, was no longer in the House (of Commons)- proclaiming that she must have wanted him because he was a powerful man.
These kinds of actions, these power abuses that a very small fraction of male colleagues, thank god, demonstrated were completely unacceptable.
‘Women’s gift from God’
She went on to say that she had been the victim of “wandering hands” at least a half-dozen times.
“A couple were repeat offenders,” she noted, “but they’ve gotten the message now.”
She advised male colleagues on Sky News to keep their hands in their pockets and behave as if they had their daughter in the room.
There were a few for whom too much drink, or even a sort of, a perspective that somehow getting elected made them, some kind of, God’s gift to women, she remarked, adding that the large majority of her male colleagues were “delightful.”
A Tory MP was accused of watching porn in the Commons during a discussion on Tuesday night.
The government’s chief whip, Chris Heaton-Harris, investigated the allegation but has now forwarded it to Parliament’s Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS).
This could lead to an external investigation, but that can happen only if a witness files a formal complaint through the ICGS process.
Sir Keir Starmer, Labour’s leader, has urged the Tories to “take action now” against the anonymous MP.
Caroline Nokes, a senior Tory MP, has expressed her disappointment that the MP has not been suspended from the Conservative group in Parliament.
She told Politics Home that referring the charges to the ICGS amounted to “kicking it into long grass”.
The ICGS system was established in 2018 in response to complaints about how sexual harassment claims against MPs were handled.
Caroline Lucas, a Green Party MP, voiced concerns on Wednesday about claims that 56 MPs, along with three cabinet ministers, were facing sexual misconduct allegations after being submitted to the ICGS.