Westminster sexual harassment: How the growing scandal unfolded

Events have culminated in Sir Michael Fallon's resignation as Defence Secretary 

Rachael Burnett
Wednesday 01 November 2017 23:05
Smaller parties could have power in a hung parliament
Smaller parties could have power in a hung parliament

Sir Michael Fallon's resignation follows days of speculation about the sexual harassment scandal sweeping Westminster.

Here is how events unfolded:

  • Reports emerge that female researchers and aides in Parliament were using a WhatsApp group to share information about alleged sexual harassment and abuse at Westminster.
  • Downing Street describes the allegations as "deeply concerning".
  •  Prime Minister Theresa May urges anyone with information to contact the authorities.
  • Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn says a "warped and degrading culture" is thriving in Westminster and that MPs who engage in the abuse and sexual harassment of women must be held accountable for their actions.
  • Four male MPs, including a minister, are accused of harassing or propositioning young women inappropriately.
  • International Trade Minister Mark Garnier admits asking his secretary to buy sex toys for him and calling her "sugar tits".
  • The Cabinet Office launches investigation into whether Mr Garnier he broke the Ministerial Code.
  • Mrs May calls for reform of the House of Commons' "toothless" disciplinary procedures.
  • House of Commons Speaker John Bercow describes allegations of a "culture of sexual harassment" at Westminster between MPs and their staff as "disturbing".
  • Senior parliamentary authorities meet to discuss a new independent helpline to deal with complaints of sexual harassment and abuse at Westminster.
  • Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon apologises for putting his hand on journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer's knee 15 years ago.
  • Mrs May's spokesman says she "has confidence in her Government and her ministers".
  • Prominent Labour activist Bex Bailey says she was raped at a party event in 2011 and felt discouraged to report it as it could have damaged her career.
  • Labour says it takes the allegations by Ms Bailey "extremely seriously" and launches an independent inquiry into the claims.
  • An anonymous woman claims she was sexually assaulted by an MP on a foreign work trip last year and that her allegations were not taken seriously.
  • Mrs May asks Whitehall's top mandarin to investigate allegations that her effective deputy, Damian Green, made inappropriate advances towards female activist Kate Maltby in 2015.
  • Justice minister Dominic Raab and aid minister Rory Stewart deny any wrongdoing after they were both named on an unverified list of sexual misconduct allegations in Westminster.
  • The Prime Minister invites leaders of Westminster's political parties to a crisis meeting to discuss plans for tackling sexual abuse and harassment.
  • Sir Michael resigns as Defence Secretary and acknowledges that "in the past I have fallen below the high standards we require of the armed forces".

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