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Lord Rennard Says Sorry To 'Harassment' Women
Former Liberal Democrat peer Lord Rennard has apologised to four women who accused him of "harassment".
The ex-chief executive of the party had previously refused to say sorry having maintained his innocence ever since allegations were made that he had behaved "inappropriately".
Now it has emerged he has issued an apology in a letter sent to Liberal Democrat HQ.
The letter says: "Lord Rennard wishes to achieve closure of the contentious issues that have been in the public domain for the last fourteen months by expressing his apologies to Susan Gaszczak, Alison Goldsworthy, Bridget Harris and Alison Smith.
"Lord Rennard personally accepts the full report of Alistair Webster QC as given to him on March 7th in its entirety.
"He would therefore like to apologise sincerely for any such intrusion and assure them that this would have been inadvertent.
"He hereby expresses his regret for any harm or embarrassment caused to them or anything which made them feel uncomfortable.
"Lord Rennard wishes to make it absolutely clear that it was never his intention to cause distress or concern to them by anything that he ever said or did."
Lord Rennard's legal adviser Lord Carlile told Sky's Murnaghan programme in January Lord Rennard was being "lined up against a wall" and he should not apologise given no allegations against him had been proven.
Police investigated claims that Lord Rennard sexually harassed female party activists last year, but decided not to press charges.
But an internal inquiry carried out by Alistair Webster QC found there was broadly credible evidence of "behaviour which violated the personal space and autonomy of the complainants".
Lord Rennard was suspended from the party, but remains a Lord, as a result of the allegations against him.
One of the women who made the allegations, Bridget Harris, a former adviser to Nick Clegg who resigned from the Lib Dems over the party's failure to act, told Sky News: "I welcome it but I wish he'd done it 15 months ago, then it would have saved us all a huge amount of pain and hassle.
"What's really important here is that he's acknowledged responsibility for what he's doing and a stronger message is that we were not lying."
Tonight, a spokesperson for Lord Rennard said that the apology speaks for itself.
A Liberal Democrat spokesperson said: "An appeal has been submitted by three of the original complainants against the outcome of Alistair Webster's investigation.
"Separately, an appeal has been submitted by Lord Rennard against the disciplinary process for bringing the party into disrepute by his failure to apologise, and his conduct after the publication of Webster's conclusions.
"Both appeals will be considered by the English Appeals Panel in accordance with the rules of the party. We cannot comment further on any aspect of that process while it is ongoing."