Labour suspends Ivan Lewis MP after misconduct allegations

Former minister is under investigation by the party following a complaint of sexual harassment

Lizzy Buchan
Political Correspondent
@LizzyBuchan
Thursday 23 November 2017 14:23
Ivan Lewis has served in Labour’s front-bench team in and out of government since 2001, most recently as Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary
Ivan Lewis has served in Labour’s front-bench team in and out of government since 2001, most recently as Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary

Labour MP Ivan Lewis has been suspended from the party amid allegations of sexual harassment, a party spokesperson has confirmed.

The former minister was already under investigation after an official complaint was submitted to the Labour party last week over his personal conduct, claiming he repeatedly touched the leg of a 19-year-old and invited her back to his house at a Labour social event.

Mr Lewis, who will now sit as an independent MP, said he “strongly disputed” the allegations and vowed to cooperate with the party to clear his name.

A Labour Party spokesperson said: “The Labour Party takes all allegations of sexual harassment extremely seriously.

“Ivan Lewis is currently suspended from the Labour Party pending an investigation.”

In a statement to The Independent, the Bury South MP said: “I am deeply saddened to hear of my suspension pending investigation.

“I strongly dispute the allegations and intend to cooperate fully with the Labour Party’s investigation.”

Mr Lewis is among a string of MPs facing misconduct probes after all the main Westminster parties were engulfed in allegations of sexual harassment and abuse.

Labour has already withdrawn the whip from Sheffield Hallam MP Jared O’Mara over a series of misogynistic and homophobic comments he made before he won his seat from former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg in June.

Luton North MP Kelvin Hopkins has also been suspended while the party investigates a complaint of sexual harassment made by a young activist. He denies the claims.

And the Tories removed the whip from Dover MP Charlie Elphicke over “serious allegations” about his conduct – claims he strongly denies.

When the allegations first came to light, Mr Lewis issued a statement through his lawyer apologising if he “got it wrong in some circumstances”.

It said: “Mr Lewis has previously acknowledged that on some occasions his innovations to people he works with to join him for dinner or drinks have made them feel uncomfortable.

“He apologises if this caused them discomfort and if he underestimated the impact his invitations to drinks or dinner could have.

“He has always sought to behave with integrity and is genuinely sorry if he got it wrong in some circumstances. He fully supports the rights of women to raise these issues, and stresses his commitment to equality and fairness in the workplace.”