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WLD statement by Dr Miranda Whitehead ( Chair)

March 3, 2013 7:48 PM
By Dr Miranda Whitehead Chair Women Liberal Democrats

Women Liberal Democrats (WLD) are very concerned by the sexual harrassment allegations involving the party.Of equally serious concern is the implication that the party did not deal appropriately with these complaints when they were first raised , and failed to offer support.

We are also aware that it appears that WLD was not seen as a place to turn for people with concerns.As some of these allegations are historical we are having to look back through our records, to be certain that these issues weren't raised to the SAO, but whatever the case that is a failure on the part of WLD, and for that I am personally very sorry.

We have seen and heard the testimonies of the women who have decided to speak publically, and we want to ensure that the investigation is full and transparent.

We welcome the independent review the party has set up on their handling of the allegations, and the QC led formal investigation under the disciplinary rules.Now WLD awaits information on how the women of the party will be involved in these.

WLD has written to Nick Clegg to ask for:

  • a process and timescale for involving the women's organisation in the Lib Dem review of how allegations were handled in the past, and how any allegations of this type will be handled in future.
  • assurance that the ongoing investigations are fair and transparent ( including ensuring that those involved are being offered appropriate support and privacy)
  • commitment to a wider review of the experiences and role of women in the party, with recommendations to be brought to conference no later than Spring 2014

The debate over the allegations has rapidly broadened into a wider debate on the treatment, and mistreatment, of women in public life and the workplace by many institutions, the press included; and we hope that in the thorough debate that follows the result will be a party, and a society, that functions better for us all.

These are very difficult matters to raise, and the people who come forward deserve our support.We welcome that the party has involved the Police, and Public Concern At Work, and hope that everyone who wants to speak about their experiences will feel able to come forward.

If you wish to inform the police : tel 0208 721 4601 you will speak to clerical staff who will direct you to a specialist advisor

If you wish to contact Public Concern at Work: tel 0207 404 6609 and e mail helpline@pcaw.org.uk