Underfire minister Damian Green refused to apologise to victims of sexual assault and harassment on behalf of the Government today during a Commons grilling.
Allegations of sexual assault and harassment have swept through Westminster in recent weeks, with Sir Michael Fallon quitting as Defence Secretary after Downing Street were told he had “lunged” at a female journalist 15 years earlier.
MPs on both sides of the Commons have been suspended amid claims of inappropriate behaviour, and one Labour activist alleges she was told not to report a rape by a party official to police.
Green is himself under investigation by the Cabinet Office over claims he made advances towards Kate Maltby – a family friend more than 30 years his junior – and pornography was discovered on his work computer by police in 2008.
The Ashford MP denies both allegations, and his spokesman today said Green had only given “general careers advice” to Maltby and had not offered her a job.
The de facto Prime Minister stood in for Theresa May today at Prime Minister’s Questions, and Labour MP John Mann took the opportunity to ask him whether he would “apologise to the victims” of rape, assault and sexual harassment “who Parliament and Government have been letting down.”
Green replied: “I absolutely agree that both this place as an institution and all of the political parties need to improve complaints procedures and other aspects of the culture of politics to make sure that young men or young women who are interested in politics do not in any way feel deterred from playing an active role in it and there is a place for everyone in this House on all sides, and in all parties, and indeed the House authorities themselves of making sure that this is the best possible working environment for people to come into.”
After PMQs, Green’s spokesman repeatedly refused to say why he hadn’t apologised.
The spokesman added: “Mr Green has never made any sexual advances towards Kate Maltby he never offered her a job or anything similar. The discussions they had were in the context of her asking him for general career advice.”