Lord Rennard row: Bridget Harris hints at legal action against peer

Embattled Lib Dem election guru says he may take legal action against party as controversy deepens

A woman who says she was harassed by Lord Rennard has refused to rule out taking legal action against the peer.

Bridget Harris, who worked as an adviser to the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg before quitting the party, told BBC Radio 4's The World Tonight programme that she would not rule out future legal action, and said she was “taking the process one step at a time”.

"In terms of civil action”, she said, “how can I possibly say that I, what I would or wouldn't do, depending on the circumstances?"

Lord Rennard was suspended by the Lib Dems after he refused to apologise over the harassment claims. The former Lib Dem chief executive has said he would not say sorry for something he had not done as it could leave him "defenceless" in any future civil action.

He is now thought to be considering whether to mount a legal challenge to the decision to strip him of the party whip in the House of Lords.

Nick Clegg puts Lib Dem authority on the line, demanding Lord Rennard apology over 'sexual harassment' he never admitted

His refusal to back down came after Mr Clegg told him he would not be allowed to sit on the Liberal Democrat benches unless he apologised. Minutes before the Lords was due to hold its first session, it was announced Lord Rennard was being suspended from the party and would face a fresh disciplinary investigation for bringing the party into disrepute by refusing to apologise.



Meanwhile, Lib Dem peer Lord Greaves said the situation was a "nightmare" and called for a South African-style "reconciliation and mediation" system to bring both sides together.

He told BBC 2's Newsnight: "We're being told that Lord Rennard may be taking legal action, Bridget Harris says she may be taking legal action. This is a nightmare."

"It's doing a lot of damage and it is getting worse by the day.

"The real problem is that the leadership of the party, broadly defined, not just Nick Clegg, have taken action which actually has rebounded and made matters worse."

Lord Rennard said he was "enormously distressed" by the situation and claimed there was a "lynch mob mentality" from some in the party in a statement released on Monday.

Lord Rennard: His statement in full
Nick Clegg was warned he would face a rebellion by Liberal Democrat peers in the House of Lords if he tried to remove the whip from Lord Rennard Nick Clegg was warned he would face a rebellion by Liberal Democrat peers in the House of Lords if he tried to remove the whip from Lord Rennard

Claims made within the party about him during the general election had led to him considering "self harm", his 2,600 word statement revealed.

"Courtesy has always been an essential part of my moral compass”, he said.

"If ever I have hurt, embarrassed or upset anyone, then it would never have been my intention and, of course, I regret that they may have felt any hurt, embarrassment or upset. But for the reasons given, I will not offer an apology to the four women complainants. I do not believe that people should be forced to say what they know they should not say, or do not mean."

A spokesman for Lord Rennard described the committee's decision as "extraordinary" and said the peer was "taking legal advice with a view to civil action against the party".

"He does not wish to see legal action between fellow Liberal Democrats, but his membership of the party matters more to him than anything apart from family and friends," the spokesman added. "Indeed he feels that the party is also his family.

"He believes that the suspension of his membership announced this morning should be lifted, that the party should now give him the report to which he is entitled and that Liberal Democrats should act in the best spirits of the party that he joined as a teenager.

Additional reporting by Press Association

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Home Care / Support Workers

£7 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care provider is looking for Home ...

Recruitment Genius: Web Team Leader

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Recruitment Genius: Client Manager

£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...

Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'