Stanley Johnson must be investigated over sex harassment ‘just like Joe Bloggs’ say shadow ministers

Exclusive: ‘His reaction is not that of a man taking this seriously’ says Jess Phillips

Maya Oppenheim
Women’s Correspondent
Saturday 20 November 2021 09:53
<p>Mr Johnson said ‘hey ho’ when approached by Sky News on Ms Nokes’ allegation </p>

Mr Johnson said ‘hey ho’ when approached by Sky News on Ms Nokes’ allegation

Stanley Johnson must be investigated over allegations of sexual harassment “like Joe Bloggs” would be, and his response to the claims shows he has no remorse, two prominent Labour women have said.

The prime minister’s father is accused by Caroline Nokes, chair of the Women and Equalities Select Committee in the House of Commons, of forcefully smacking her on the backside at the Conservative Party conference in 2003.

Ms Nokes’ decision to come forward prompted political journalist Ailbhe Rea to allege she was “groped” by the 81-year-old at the same even in 2019.

But while some have sought to excuse or downplay the allegations – such as GB News presenter Isabel Oakeshott, who said Mr Johnson was “handsy” but “charming” – two Labour figures insist he must be held to account.

“The rule of law should apply equally,” Tulip Siddiq, shadow minister for children and early years, told The Independent. “If Stanley Johnson has acted inappropriately, he has to be treated in accordance with the rule of law like Joe Bloggs.”

Jess Phillips, shadow minister for domestic violence and safeguarding, hit out at Mr Johnson’s response to the allegations.

Approached by Sky News for comment, Mr Johnson said: “I have no recollection of Caroline Nokes at all – but there you go. And no reply ... Hey ho, good luck and thanks.”

Ms Phillips said: “His reaction – he said ‘hey ho’ – is not the reaction of a man taking this seriously, in my opinion.

“When I spoke to Caroline about it, she said she wants to speak up about these things so people feel they can speak up and it won’t be tolerated.”

She said sexual harassment and assault occurs in all walks of life, from the shop floor to the corridors of Westminster.

“People grope people a lot in parliament,” she said. “It is absolutely staggering. Lots goes unreported. People are scared to come forward. But this is less so now. People are more likely to come forward.”

She said she was speaking to a male MP recently, who asked her to pass him the milk before saying “Am I allowed to talk to you anymore? What am I allowed to say?”.

“I said: ‘You can ask me to pass you the milk, just don’t grope my tits’. Legislators should not go around saying they can’t talk to women when half the population is women.”

Ms Siddiq, who is MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, recalled an incident years ago where she was grabbed by a man on the street in Kings Cross in central London.

“I was on my way from uni,” she said. “It was not late, it was about 6pm. But there was no-one around. This man came out of a restaurant. He came and grabbed me from behind. I managed to run away.”

Speaking in a Sky News cross-party discussion with other female MPs about how to tackle violence against women, Ms Nokes said: “I can remember a really prominent man – at the time the Conservative candidate for Teignbridge in Devon – smacking me on the backside about as hard as he could and going, 'oh, Romsey, you've got a lovely seat'.”

Ms Nokes was in her thirties at the time and the prospective parliamentary candidate for what is now her constituency before the 2005 general election.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the allegations should be “fully investigated”.

Boris Johnson’s spokesperson previously said: “I’m not going to be drawn into specific allegations against a private individual. Of course, we would want anyone in any circumstance who feels they have been a victim of any kind of harassment to come forward and report them to the appropriate authorities.”

A representative for Stanley Johnson has been contacted for comment.

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