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Liberal Democrats appoint inquiry leader


Liberal Democrats today appointed a prominent female City figure as chairwoman of the independent inquiry into the party's culture and handling of complaints, launched in the wake of the allegations against Lord Rennard.

Helena Morrissey's review will look at attitudes towards women in the party, as well as the employment relationship between staff, elected officials and volunteers, training, and how to lead a wider change in Westminster.

Ms Morrissey, the chief executive of Newton Investment Management, is the founder of the Thirty Per Cent Club, which campaigns to increase the proportion of women in company boardrooms.

She said today that those at the top of politics should "lead by example" in tackling the old boys' networks which still exclude women from many parts of society.

Announcing her appointment, Lib Dem chief executive Tim Gordon said: "Following recent allegations it is clear that we in the Liberal Democrats failed to live up to our political ideals.

"We recognise that we need to adapt how we operate. As a political party which prides itself on equality, we must give everyone confidence they will be treated fairly and equally and that they will be listened to.

"It is vital this review is done independently of the party, in a way which can be frank and can scrutinise thoroughly. I am delighted Helena has agreed to chair the review. She has been a leading light in the development of women and breaking barriers, and I am sure that she will make an immensely positive difference to both our party and to politics."

Ms Morrissey said: "Too much of our society has operated in old-boys' networks. It leads to an atmosphere where women don't feel valued or listened to. We can only make changes in society when those at the top in business and politics lead by example.

"While prompted in difficult circumstances, this review is a very important step in giving everyone, especially women, a greater confidence in politics and the Liberal Democrats.

"I will be talking to people at all levels of the party to recognise where there have been failings to help guide a culture shift and develop a much more equal and trusting set of standards."

The Morrissey review is separate from a disciplinary inquiry into allegations by a number of women of sexual harassment against Lord Rennard, which the Lib Dem peer strenuously denies.