Labour MP suspended amid harassment investigation

Labour have suspended Ivan Lewis MP amid an ongoing investigation into an allegation of sexual harassment.

Earlier this month, the Bury South MP denied he had ever made non-consensual sexual comments or sexual advances towards women.

It followed allegations, reported by BuzzFeed News, that he touched a woman’s leg and invited her to his house at a Labour Party event in 2010, when she was 19.

A formal complaint about Mr Lewis was later lodged with Labour, who launched an investigation but did not suspend him.

The party have now withdrawn the whip from the former minister.

A 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.”

MPs Chris Byant, Anna Soubry and Jess Phillips discuss sexual harassment at Westminster

Video: MPs discuss Westminster sexual harassment

BuzzFeed News have also reported further allegations against Mr Lewis from other women, which he was said to strongly deny.

But, in a statement, the MP’s lawyer said Mr Lewis “acknowledged that on some occasions his invitations to people he works with to join him for dinner or drinks have made them feel uncomfortable”.

It added: “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.”

Mr Lewis was first elected to Parliament in 1997 and served in both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown’s governments.

The divorced father-of-two, 50, was most recently on Labour’s frontbench as shadow Northern Ireland secretary under former Labour leader Ed Miliband.

The investigation into Mr Lewis comes amid an ongoing sexual harassment scandal at Westminster, which has prompted cross-party efforts to provide better safeguards for MPs’ staff and party officials.

The past few weeks have seen an outbreak of allegations against senior figures from across the political parties.

Luton North MP Kelvin Hopkins has also been suspended by Labour pending an investigation into a complaint of sexual harassment from a female activist.

He denies the accusation.

More follows…