UK & World News

  • 22 February 2013, 11:26

Lord Rennard Accused Of Sexual Harassment

The Liberal Democrats have said they will review how they handle complaints of sexual impropriety following allegations against the party's former chief executive.

Lord Rennard, who served as the party's chief executive from 2003 to 2009, denies the claims and has temporarily stepped aside from the party to fight them.

The allegations - that he inappropriately touched and propositioned female party workers - were made by several women in a Channel 4 News report.

The women alleged they reported the peer's behaviour to senior party officials at the time but no further action was taken.

In response to the claims the Lib Dems released a statement saying: "In view of the serious allegations put to us by Channel 4 and the concerns raised about how such issues have been handled in the past, Nick Clegg has asked Tim Farron, the party president, to establish an immediate review into all our procedures for dealing with these issues, including a thorough examination of how allegations made in the past have been handled.

"An internal investigation into the specific allegations raised by Channel 4 has begun under the party's disciplinary procedures.

"There are a number of questions that have been raised and our reviews will ensure we properly address all of them.

"We will not tolerate harassment in our party and we urge anyone to contact the chief executive or use our confidential whistleblower procedure if they have issues they wish to raise as a result of Channel 4's report."

Lawyers for Lord Rennard told Channel 4 News: "Lord Rennard has always strived to conduct himself responsibly and appropriately at all times and has no recollection of any inappropriate behaviour.

"In addition, our client is unaware of any complaint about his conduct ever being made against him."

Following the news report on Thursday evening, Jane Merrick, political editor of the Independent on Sunday, wrote on Twitter: "Am shocked at Lord Rennard allegations. Another LibDem tarnished by own (alleged) behaviour. Party needs more women, desperately."

Lord Rennard, a former Lib Dem party strategist who was made a life peer in 1999, quit his post as chief executive in 2009, citing health and family reasons.