Nearly one in five people working in the UK Parliament has been a victim or witness of sexual harassment or inappropriate behaviour over the past twelve months, according to a survey released Thursday.
In addition, 39 percent of respondents reported an experience of non-sexual harassment or bullying in the 12 months preceding the survey. Of these, 45% were women and 35% were men.
The survey, which was answered by 1,377 people working in parliament, was conducted as part of a cross-party working group set up following revelations of a « culture » of sexual harassment in the political class. The scandal has cost their posts to several ministers.
Defence Minister Michael Fallon resigned in November after being accused of putting a hand on a journalist’s knee during a dinner in 2002.
Deputy Prime Minister Damian Green, a close friend of Theresa May, was also forced to resign in December. He admitted to lying about pornographic images found on his computer in Westminster.
Finally, Secretary of State for International Trade Mark Garnier, who had been investigated after asking his secretary to buy sex toys, left the government as part of the reshuffle in January.
« The main findings of the Task Force survey reveal that bullying, and harassment, sexual and otherwise, have been present in the lives of many people working in Parliament or with Parliament, » the report’s authors write.
The working group recommends a new code of conduct in Parliament, with a new complaints procedure that is independent of the political party. Separate procedures will also be established for dealing with sexual harassment, bullying and non-sexual harassment.
Finally, the parliamentary parliamentary commissioners responsible for these issues « will see their role broadened and reformed, with a wide range of possible sanctions ».