UK & World News
Lord Rennard: 'Several' Call Police Hotline
Sky sources say that "several" women have called a Scotland Yard hotline over sexual harassment allegations relating to the former Lib Dem chief executive.
It comes as a former party activist told Sky News she offered to make an official complaint that peer had made inappropriate sexual advances towards her.
The claim by Alison Smith contradicts accounts from Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg and the party's senior leadership that no formal allegations were made about Lord Rennard.
Several women have come forward to accuse him of inappropriately touching and propositioning female party workers. Lord Rennard denies all allegations of wrongdoing.
Ms Smith told Sky News she first reported a complaint about the peer to Paul Burstow, then the chief whip, in April 2007.
"That wasn't listened to so I took the matter to various other people and really kept hitting brick walls," she said.
"At the time, I didn't have any ambitions for a political career, so I felt less prohibited coming forward and complaining.
"I said from the very first instance to Paul Burstow that I was willing to take (my complaint) all the way. I told him I was willing to put it in writing and to go to the police if he thought that was the right thing to do."
Ms Smith said the matter was dealt with informally in 2009.
Mr Clegg earlier conceded that his party made "very serious mistakes" in failing to deal properly with complaints of sexual harassment against the peer.
The Deputy Prime Minister admitted women in his party were "let down" when their allegations of sexual harassment against the peer were not listened to.
Lady Williams, the former Lib Dem leader in the House of Lords, stepped into the row saying that it had been "hopelessly exaggerated".
"Chris Rennard, in my view, is a very fine man, and I think the whole this has been hopelessly exaggerated," she said.
"Let's be frank, the bad stuff is basically what's happened to Savile. It's abusing children, it's abusing very young innocent women, it's using the temptations of celebrity.
"And all that, I completely understand that this is terrible, simply terrible. I don't think anything that's been said about our chap is in the same category at all."
Lord Rennard issued a fresh denial of any wrongdoing this week and has said he is ready to "co-operate with any properly-constituted inquiry".
The statement said "that in 27 years of working for the Liberal Democrats he received no complaint or allegation about his behaviour".
what do you think?
Why didn't she then?
The Lib Dems appear to be closing ranks and trying a damage limitation exercise by hiding behind the promise of an enquiry.. Already been on the news that another Lib Dem lord has tried to browbeat the woman who made the allegations. The establishment looking after its own once again. Watch out for the funny handshakes. Stinks to high heaven.
The way this goes no male had better speak to a female - taken us about 1000 years (maybe ore) to get to this state of affairs
Talking to women will soon be an offence.
But they are the LIBERAL dems
" at the the time time i didnt have any ambitions for a political career, so i felt less prohibited coming forward and complaining".so this should now read." Now that i have a political career and am very ambitious im going to get as much publicity as possible by going to the newspapers and appearing on television and complaining and complaining about a man who put his hand on my knee in the pass and dragging my political party through the mud in the process"
I dont like the words" sex claims peer" it sort of suggests sex took place with the peer.its again making a mountain out of a molehill, on telly all this woman claimed what happened is that he put his hands on her knee.i like to know more exactly what this peer has done to this woman did he molest her or what.did he blackmail her,what exactly did he do?i dont know if ive missed something but all ive heard so far is that he put his hand on her knee.
d and d Phillips
Knee pest Peer
What is going on here? She offered to make a formal complaint but she didn't. The says the master was dealt with informally, therefore it was dealt with. However when the initial complaint wasn't listened to initially, she approached several other people with it. Sounds more like an organisational failure to have any sort of grievance process in place than the fault of poor old Nick Clegg - and I'm no Clegg fan.
If Lady Williams had been as keen to fight for the Labour and make it a better party years ago as she is of defending this lot she's defected to she might still have some credibility.