British lawmakers subjected staff members to an “unacceptable risk of bullying and harassment, including sexual harassment” in the House of Commons, a damning report has revealed.
The independent inquiry conducted by Gemma White QC found that MPs had behaved in ways that fell far short of what was expected of them. It revealed that the problem of bullying and harassment was “sufficiently widespread” to prompt an “urgent collective response.”
The report, released on Thursday, found evidence of “breasts being grabbed, buttocks being slapped, thighs being stroked and crotches being pressed/rubbed against bodies.”
The inquiry also found that staff who complain lived in fear of “career suicide,” despite changes being made to improve the complaints system in the wake of the #MeToo movement and a number of parliamentary harassment scandals.
One staff member who gave evidence to the inquiry described their time working for an unnamed politician as “the most stressful and hostile period of my life. My entire sense of self was crushed, and by the end, I felt incapable and incompetent…”
The report concludes by calling for a “fundamental shift” away from regarding MPs as “650 small businesses” with near complete freedom to operate in relation to their staff.
It comes after data acquired from the London Metropolitan Police under the Freedom of Information Act showed that the number of crimes reported in Britain’s parliament has increased by nearly 50 percent since 2016.
There were 578 crimes, including assault, robbery, drug possession and blackmail reported on parliamentary grounds in Westminster between 2016 and 2018.
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