Labour MP Clive Lewis denies party conference groping allegation

Labour MP Clive Lewis has "completely" denied an allegation that he groped a woman at the party's annual conference.

The Labour Party is investigating after a formal complaint was made against the Norwich South MP on Friday.

Mr Lewis is alleged by the woman to have hugged her and given her backside "a big squeeze" at a conference event this year, the Independent reported.

However 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.

"I'm feeling pretty taken aback by it all. It's not been a great week ... for Parliament. It's been a pretty tough fortnight."

He said he believed lots of MPs are "kind of aghast" and "sat there thinking: 'Whose turn is it next? Will it be me? Is it someone from five years ago, 10 years ago?'"

Mr Lewis argued that "this isn't just going to end in Westminster" and suggested other workplaces, including newsrooms, will be reviewing their processes on dealing with harassment.

"I think this is something that our whole entire society, hopefully, will take on board," he said.

Asked if he would continue hugging people in public places, Mr Lewis said: "I'm afraid to say now I will think twice about it. There's no two ways about it.

"I'm a friendly person I'm someone who enjoys the company of people. It saddens me that I perhaps now will have to think about standing back, about being more formal, and that is a shame.

"I just feel it's sad, but I think if I was at the event next year, if I'm at future events, I think most politicians now will be thinking 'I don't want to put myself in a situation where those misunderstandings those accusations can be made' so it's probably better to be on the safe side.

"I think a lot of politicians will err on the side of caution. Some people will say that's the right thing to do, some people will say that's sad."

A Labour party spokeswoman said: "The Labour Party is investigating a formal complaint made today against Clive Lewis."

Mr Lewis faced criticism last month after a video emerged, reportedly from the same conference event, telling a man to "get on your knees bitch".

His comments in the video drew widespread condemnation from fellow Labour MPs, with party leader Jeremy Corbyn describing them as "completely unacceptable".

Former deputy party leader Harriet Harman, chairwoman of the women's parliamentary Labour party Jess Phillips, former cabinet minister Yvette Cooper and Labour MP Stella Creasy used social media to condemn the remarks.

The video was taken at an event hosted by Novara Media on the last night of Momentum-backed festival The World Transformed.

Read Full Story

FROM OUR PARTNERS