Scottish Parliament sets up confidential phone line for sexual harassment claims

Written by Tom Freeman on 30 October 2017 in News

Presiding Officer and chief executive of Parliament respond to sexual harassment claims at Holyrood

Ken Macintosh - David Anderson/Holyrood

A dedicated confidential phone line will be established for people working at the Scottish Parliament to report sexual harassment, it has been announced.

In a letter to all people who use the Scottish Parliament building, Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh and chief executive Paul Grice called on MSPs, staff and visitors to call out and report inappropriate behaviour.

Macintosh will convene a meeting of the party leaders tomorrow, he added.

The letter follows allegations over the weekend that women at parliament had suffered sexual harassment and abuse.

“These reports were disturbing and deeply concerning and we want to reassure all those working in the Parliament that sexual harassment has no place at Holyrood,” Macintosh and Grice said.

A Scottish Parliament spokesman said: "Over the last five years approximately, the number of cases reported to or brought to the attention of parliamentary officials, regarding inappropriate behaviour or harassment, is in single figures.”

However, in the letter Macintosh and Grice acknowledge the low number could be a product of “a culture where people do not feel able to come forward and report it.”

The letter concluded: “The Parliament sits at the heart of political and public life in Scotland.  As such we all have a responsibility to tackle sexual harassment.

“We would ask each of you to join us not only in condemning this behaviour, but also in playing your part in challenging it and creating a workplace which is characterised by dignity and respect.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said a cross-party approach was needed.

"Clearly we are hearing about allegations that exist of a spectrum from inappropriate comments and behaviour through to allegations that could constitute serious criminal behaviour,” she said.

“But the key point here is that no woman should have to put up with sexual harassment or behaviour or language of a sexual nature that makes them feel uncomfortable in any way.”

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