'We were called Rennard's red hot babes'

Liberal Democrat insider claims nine more women were targeted by party’s former chief executive

A Liberal Democrat activist who claims she was propositioned by Lord Rennard has said she knows of nine other women who complain of being targeted by the party’s former chief executive.

And as police met senior Liberal Democrat officials to discuss the allegations surrounding the peer, Nick Clegg  hit out at the reporting of the sexual harassment claims by “self appointed detectives” in the media.

Lord Rennard issued a fresh statement strongly denying all accusations of improper behaviour and insisting he had never received a complaint or allegation about misconduct.

The furore continued unabated amid suggestions – played down by police sources – that Scotland Yard had received claims about several Liberal Democrat figures. A former councillor, who only gave her name as Susan and who has alleged Lord Rennard made an unwanted pass at her,  said: “I have spoken to nine women who were involved in this, which is a fair number. But it is always really difficult for anybody to come forward.”

She told BBC Radio 4’s The World At One she had been “extremely distressed” by her alleged encounter with Lord Rennard at a residential weekend in Peterborough for aspiring parliamentary candidates. She said she told Jo Swinson, the chair of the party’s gender balance task force, and the MP Norman Lamb about the incident, as well as the peer Baroness Ros Scott.

Susan said: “I think Jo did the best she could with a bad situation, because at the time we were all saying... ‘we really don’t want this to go public, we don’t want to be in the public domain’. In fact at one point, someone referred to us as ‘Rennard’s red hot babes’.”

Ms Swinson, who is now the equalities minister, has confirmed she looked into harassment claims by several women, but was “careful to respect their wish for privacy and, for that matter, their right not to be harassed by the press”. Mr Lamb, who is now a health minister, said: “I knew Jo was dealing with a number of women [over allegations against Lord Rennard] and I know that Jo was taking it seriously.”

He said they both felt action had to be taken – and that resulted in Danny Alexander, who was Mr Clegg’s chief of staff, speaking to the peer.

The claims rocked the Liberal Democrats on the eve of tomorrow’s Eastleigh by-election where they  defend a small majority following Chris Huhne’s resignation. In an attempt to get a grip on the situation, the party has set up two internal inquiries.

Outside his home, Mr Clegg said he would not “provide a running commentary” on the allegations, and took a swipe at “people who appear to want to act as self appointed detectives trying to piece together events that happened many years ago”. He said the only way to establish the truth of the claims was by allowing the investigations to run their course.

A spokesman for Lord Rennard said: “Lord Rennard refutes these allegations. He will co-operate with any properly-constituted inquiry. He has been notified of an internal investigatory panel within the Party. The matter must now be regarded as sub judice pending its proceedings and no further statement will be issued in the interim.”

He expects others to respect the sub judice principle.”

The spokesman added: “He would reiterate that in 27 years of working for the Liberal Democrats he received no complaint or allegation about his behaviour. Nor is he aware of any personal complaints being made in the three and a half years since he stood down as chief executive until last week.”

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Jose Mourinho on Sky Sports
footballEXCLUSIVE COLUMN Paul Scholes: It was not a leg-breaking tackle, as the Chelsea manager had claimed
2015 General Election

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...

Recruitment Genius: Photographic Event Crew

£14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developers - .NET / ASP.NET / WebAPI / JavaScript

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Solicitor - City

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A first rate opportunity to join a top ranking...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower