Tory activist who claims she was raped by senior Conservative figure says her report of 'toxic' Westminster culture ignored

‘I remember the attack, during the attack,’ the activist said. ‘I remember the room disappearing around me and thinking I was going to die’

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Monday 06 November 2017 12:25
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The major political parties are currently trying to reach an agreement on Parliament-wide anti-harassment procedures
The major political parties are currently trying to reach an agreement on Parliament-wide anti-harassment procedures

A former Conservative activist who raised concerns with Parliament’s authorities over an alleged rape and the “toxic” Westminster culture has claimed she was ignored.

The woman – referred to as “Amanda” to protect her identity – told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme that after she reported the rape to the police she then had a meeting with the Commons authorities.

Amanda claimed she was raped by an employee of a Conservative MP, adding: “I was raped by someone senior to me in the Conservative party. It was violent. It wasn’t in Westminster, it was in my home.

“And it shouldn’t have happened. I remember the attack, during the attack. I remember the room disappearing around me and thinking I was going to die.”

Amanda said when the man left her house the next day she was at the police station within an hour and reported the crime. She then had a 25-minute conversation with David Natzler, the House of Commons clerk, as she felt the “heavy-drinking and sex-driven” culture within Parliament had contributed to the alleged attack.

She said the parliamentary authorities had informed her that they were passing on her account to Gavin Williamson – then the Chief Whip – and the Leader of the Commons Andrea Leadsom.

“I never received contact from either of them,” she said. “The parliamentary authorities never followed it up with me either. I heard nothing,” she said.

While Ms Leadsom told the BBC that concerns about the culture in Westminster had been passed on to her, Mr Williamson, who was promoted to Defence Secretary last week, said he had not been informed of the complaints. Both said they were not told about the rape claims.

In a statement to the broadcaster, the Commons clerk said a conversation with Amanda took place. They added: “The allegation was mentioned but was not the focus of the discussion, as the incident had not taken place on the Parliamentary Estate, and the activist had not been employed on the estate.

“There was no question of formally ‘referring’ the allegations to other House authorities as there was already a criminal case under way.”

“We understand that the charges have recently been dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service.

"In the course of a 25 minute conversation, the individual concerned gave the Clerk some helpful personal insights based on her view on aspects of the culture and attitudes within certain parts of the parliamentary community. These were informally reported onwards and are being acted upon in various ways.”

It comes as the leaders of the major political parties prepare for cross-party talks in Westminster on Monday in order to reach an agreement on a Parliament-wide anti-harassment procedures.

In a letter to the Prime Minister before the meeting, the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said political parties should encourage all staff to join a trade union, as they can provide a “vital mechanism” for strengthening effective action and protection from sexual and other harassment and abuse at work.

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