MPs who abuse women must be held accountable, says Labour leader

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MPs who engage in the abuse and sexual harassment of women must be held accountable for their actions, Jeremy Corbyn will warned.

The Labour leader says a "warped and degrading culture" - where the abuse of women is accepted and normalised - is thriving in the corridors of power.

His warning will come as it was reported that four MPs, including a minister, had been caught up in allegations of sexual misconduct at Westminster.

(Anthony Devlin/PA)
(Anthony Devlin/PA)

The MPs, two Labour and two Conservative, have been accused of harassing or propositioning young women inappropriately according to The Times.

The Guardian also reported four MPs were involved in allegations of misconduct. It was not clear if the papers are referring to the same individuals.

Downing Street has described allegations of abuse at Westminster as "deeply concerning" and warned any minister found to have behaved inappropriately would face "serious action".

In a keynote speech, Mr Corbyn will urge women who have suffered such abuse or harassment to report it to authorities, including - if appropriate - the police.

The Labour leader has faced accusations that he was slow to act over misogynistic and homophobic comments by Labour MP Jared O'Mara - including a claim he called a constituent an "ugly bitch", which he denies.

From Jared regarding today. pic.twitter.com/LSnwzr9MeX

-- Jared O'Mara Office (@jomarampoffice) October 23, 2017

In an address to the Unite union's Scottish policy conference in Aviemore, Mr Corbyn will say that Labour "will not tolerate any form of discrimination or harassment".

"The problem doesn't stop with those who make unwanted advances on women, it extends to a culture that has tolerated abuse for far too long," he will say.

"It's a warped and degrading culture that also exists and thrives in the corridors of power, including in Westminster."

According to The Times, one of the Labour MPs caught up in the allegations is alleged to have texted a work experience colleague, suggesting there would have been sexual contact had he been younger.

Another Labour MP allegedly sent multiple inappropriate texts "when drunk", including to a researcher in her early 20s, the paper said.

The minister involved, who is married, is alleged to have made passes at several women including journalists and aides, according to the paper.

Another married Conservative MP was said to have had affairs with at least two young researchers in the past few years, the paper said.

The Guardian reported there were allegations of inappropriate sexual behaviour by a Conservative former minister while a Labour MP was described as "incredibly predatory".

There were also said be allegations of inappropriate behaviour by a backbench MP during a trip abroad earlier this year while an MP allegedly left a parliamentary delegation after claims about their conduct, the paper said.

Meanwhile it emerged that an attempt by the parliamentary standards watchdog to extend the House of Commons "respect" policy - which protects staff from harassment and bullying - to cover everyone working at the House had been blocked.

In a letter to a friend of a woman who alleged she had been sexually assaulted - seen by The Daily Telegraph - the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Kathryn Hudson said it was not "widely understood" that it only covered staff directly employed by the House and did not extend to MPs' staff who they employ themselves.

"I made strong representations at the time for the policy to be extended to all those who work in the House, but this was not agreed and it was restricted to House employees only," she wrote.