Monica Lennon says she was sexually assaulted by a senior Labour party figure
Monica Lennon MSP said a male colleague groped her in front of a room full of people but that Labour treated the incident as a joke
MSP Monica Lennon has described how she was sexually assaulted by a senior member of the Labour party at a social event.
Speaking to the Sunday Mail, Lennon said a male colleague groped her in front of a room full of people but that Labour treated the incident as a joke.
The MSP made an initial complaint but dropped further action because she was concerned she would not be believed.
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Lennon said: “A man, who was a senior figure in the party, touched me in a manner that some would say is 'handsy'. He was sitting next to me when he groped me, in full view of other people.
"I don't want to go into the full details but he touched my body, in an intimate way, without invitation or permission. This shouldn't happen to anyone.
"It's possible at least half a dozen people saw exactly what happened.
"One man, who at the time was a Labour politician, joked to everyone in earshot, 'That's your fault for coming over here and getting him all excited'."
She added: “A few days later I ran into another man who had seen what happened and he made a jokey reference to it.
“The underlying message was clear, the whole thing was to be treated as a joke. I felt disappointed, hurt, embarrassed and let down.”
Lennon is the latest in a series of female politicians and activists to speak publicly about sexual harassment and assault in UK politics.
Scottish Parliament Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh and chief executive Paul Grice last week announced that a confidential phone line will be established for people working at the Scottish Parliament to report sexual harassment.
In a letter to all people who use the Scottish Parliament building, Macintosh and Grice called on MSPs, staff and visitors to call out and report inappropriate behaviour.
A Labour party spokesman said: “The party takes all complaints of sexual harassment, abuse and discrimination extremely seriously.
“We ask that anyone with a complaint comes forward so that allegations can be properly investigated. When evidence of misconduct comes to light, all appropriate disciplinary action is taken in line with the party's rule book and procedures.
“The party has been working with its affiliates to develop procedures specifically designed to deal with complaints of sexual harassment and safeguarding issues in order to improve internal processes and make it easier to report concerns.”
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MSPs urged ministers to write to public bodies at the start of the reporting cycle, and at regular intervals, to remind them of their duties