A British government cabinet member and a senior aide continued to work for Boris Johnson’s executive despite being accused of sexual misconduct. As reported by the Sky News chainwho has spoken with two alleged victims.
Two women have given first-hand accounts of what they say happened to them when one was assaulted and the other groped by the two high-level political figures.
One of them, who does not want to reveal her identity, worked as part of the parliamentary staff of the Conservative Party and has told the network the details of a sexual assault by the cabinet member, who was then a deputy.
“I was sexually assaulted by someone who is now a cabinet member. I was in my early 20s and didn’t really know how to deal with it. I was super drunk. He gave me more wine and obviously I was already drunk,” the woman told Sky News’ The Open Secret podcast.
“After a while, I was like, ‘You know, do you mind if I go to bed?’ So I went to bed. But obviously he didn’t leave me alone. And then I woke up the next morning and realized what had happened.”
She told her colleagues and the deputy she was working for at the time of the incident, who encouraged her to report it to the police. But, after initial talks with the police, she decided not to go ahead and did not file a formal complaint with the Conservative Party. “I was too afraid to start that process and it would get out of control.”
A Conservative Party spokesman said: “We have an established code of conduct and complaints procedure where people can report their complaints confidentially. We take any complaint very seriously.” “If a criminal charge is raised, we always advise the person to contact the police,” he added.
A former Conservative aide has also alleged that she was groped by a senior government official before her Downing Street appointment.
The woman, who was working for the government when she says the incident occurred, filed multiple complaints about the man’s appointment, but he continued in his post. “I heard that he was going to get a job at Downing Street. I raised it with several people. Nothing happened. So I formally complained to the Cabinet Office. I felt a responsibility to do it again, in part because the office he goes to work in is full of women. And I thought he would do it again,” she has said.
He has also assured that, upon learning of the complaint, the man’s boss dismissed it, alleging that the accused was “handsome and had women who jumped on him.”
Charlotte Nichols, Labor MP for Warrington North, is one of the many people Sky spoke to who have suggested that filing complaints can hinder job prospects. “To survive in Westminster you have to have that network of whispers. Although it will never be 100% effective. Some of the most dangerous people are probably the last to be suspected.”
Nichols also recounted her own experience of inappropriate behavior by a high-ranking deputy. “I have received repeated proposals from a deputy who is my grandfather’s age and, sometimes, in front of other colleagues who have laughed or have not said anything when he has done so”.
“I know from talking to other people that, you know, it’s not unusual behavior for him… It’s something that he clearly feels emboldened to do, that he feels entitled to do,” he said.
“We take allegations of misconduct very seriously and there are robust procedures in place for raising concerns. All ministerial appointments also follow the established processes,” said a government spokesperson. “All potential government employees undergo the necessary checks and investigations. We do not comment on individuals, ”he added about the second accusation.