Further MPs drawn into Westminster sleaze scandal as number of allegations grows

A string of MPs have denied allegations of inappropriate conduct as sexual harassment claims continued to swirl around Westminster.

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis denied a claim that he groped a woman at the Labour conference in September after it emerged the party was investigating a formal complaint against him.

The MP is alleged by the woman to have hugged her and given her backside "a big squeeze" at a conference event, the Independent reported.

But the former shadow cabinet member told the BBC: "I don't as a rule at packed Labour party conferences grope people's bottoms when I greet them. It's just not how I roll, it's not what I do.

"Is the person mistaken? Have I given them a hug and this has been misinterpreted? I don't know.

"All I know is that I would not deliberately do that, do what's alleged. I completely deny that."

The comments came as Labour former Foreign Office minister Ivan Lewis denied he had made non-consensual sexual advances toward women.

Ivan Lewis. (Dave Thompson/PA)
Ivan Lewis. (Dave Thompson/PA)

The Bury South MP made the remarks after BuzzFeed News reported that a woman alleged he had touched her leg and invited her to his house when she was 19 and at a Labour Party event in 2010.

A statement issued through his lawyers to the website said Mr Lewis had "never made non-consensual sexual comments or sexual advances to women".

The ex-minister added: "However, I understand that a few women have claimed that my behaviour made them feel uncomfortable.

"I have on occasion asked women I work with out for drinks or dinner, or developed strong feelings for them, and I am genuinely sorry if this was unwelcome or inappropriate in the circumstances, and caused anyone to feel awkward."

After a spate of sexual harassment claims hit political parties in recent weeks, Prime Minister Theresa May released a new code of conduct for Conservative representatives.

Unwanted sexual behaviour is unacceptable in any walk of life. We must stamp it out. My letter to @HouseofCommons Speaker pic.twitter.com/oPLltr5gKS

-- Theresa May (@theresa_may) October 29, 2017

It followed her former defence secretary, Sir Michael Fallon resigning after admitting his behaviour had "fallen below the high standards required".

Sir Michael's shock announcement came after it emerged he had repeatedly put his hand on a journalist's knee at a dinner in 2002.

Writing in the Telegraph about the incident, Julia Hartley-Brewer said: "Since his resignation, I have exchanged messages with Sir Michael in which he made it abundantly clear that he does not blame me for his resignation."

Labour said it would appoint an independent specialist organisation to offer support and advice to anyone affected by sexual harassment in the party.

Suspended Labour MP Kelvin Hopkins said he "categorically" denied allegations of inappropriate conduct made by party activist Ava Etemadzadeh.

Labour is investigating Ms Etemadzadeh's claims that the MP sent her suggestive texts and acted inappropriately.

In a statement issued by his solicitors, Mr Hopkins denied allegations he was inappropriate towards Ms Etemadzadeh following a Labour student event.

Labour MP Kelvin Hopkins. (Chris Radburn/PA)
Labour MP Kelvin Hopkins. (Chris Radburn/PA)

The MP said: "I absolutely and categorically deny that I in any way engaged in any such inappropriate conduct. I simply put an arm around her shoulder to give her a brief, slight hug just before getting in to my car.

"I did not hold her tight. I did not rub any part of my body, let alone my crotch, against Ava."

Mr Hopkins claims that Ms Etemadzadeh sent him a text later that evening thanking him for attending the event.

Referring to claims made by Ms Etemadzadeh after a meeting with the MP in the Commons, Mr Hopkins said: "It is reported in the press that at that meeting I asked questions about her personal life and that I made her uncomfortable with a suggestion that I would have liked to take her to my office if it were empty.

"I have no recollection whatsoever of such conversations."

The MP claims that Ms Etemadzadeh sent him a text after that meeting saying: "Thank you, Kelvin for today. It was lovely meeting you! ? xx"

Mr Hopkins has confirmed he did send Ms Etemadzadeh a text which referred to her as "charming and sweet-natured" and stated "a nice young man would be lucky to have you as a girlfriend and lover... Were I to be young... but I am not..."

The MP claims Ms Etemadzadeh sent him a text saying: "Oh thank you Kelvin for such kind words."

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has come under fire for promoting Mr Hopkins to the shadow cabinet last year after the allegations against him first surfaced.

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