Caroline Nokes Says Her Sex Life Was 'Trawled Through' Following Stanley Johnson Claims

The chair of the women and equalities committee accused the prime minister's father of inappropriately touching her at a conference event in 2003.
Nokes hit out at culture of victim “blaming and shaming” that tries to “turn it on the woman” whenever a complaint about sexual harassment is made.
Nokes hit out at culture of victim “blaming and shaming” that tries to “turn it on the woman” whenever a complaint about sexual harassment is made.
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A senior female Tory MP has said journalists have trawled through her past sex life to “find some sort of defence” for Boris Johnson’s father, whom she accused of inappropriately touching her.

Caroline Nokes, chair of the influential women and equalities committee, recently accused Stanley Johnson of smacking her backside at a Conservative party conference event in 2003.

Nokes hit out at culture of victim “blaming and shaming” that tries to “turn it on the woman” whenever a complaint about sexual harassment is made.

“I’ve seen a number of journalists try to trawl my past sex life as some sort of defence for someone doing that,” the former minister told Times Radio.

“And that’s just horrific because how does a perpetrator know what sort of life their victim has led?

“We are literally in a culture that is trying to turn it on the woman, make it her fault, blame her, accuse her of making a political vendetta.

“And I think it’s really important that we stop trying to blame or shame the victim, and that we actually look at cultures that make some men — not all men, and I’m the first to say that — some men, think it is okay to harass and touch women inappropriately. And it’s never okay.”

Nokes, who represents Romsey and Southampton North, recently recalled the incident in an interview with Sky News, in which she said she remembered a man “smacking me on the backside about as hard as he could”.

“I can remember a really prominent man — at the time the Conservative candidate for Teignbridge in Devon — smacking me on the backside about as hard as he could and going, ‘oh, Romsey, you’ve got a lovely seat’,” she said.

In response to the allegations, Johnson said he had “no recollection of Caroline Nokes at all”.

Earlier this week, Home Office minister Damian Hinds said an investigation would be carried out into allegations made against the prime minister’s father “if that’s the appropriate course of action”, but no firm commitment by the government has been made.

Nokes said she was doubtful there would be an investigation and said she had not asked the chief whip, Mark Spencer, to launch one.

The revelations made for an awkward interaction between Nokes and Boris Johnson during this week’s Liaison Committee hearing, in which Nokes quizzed the prime minister on whether he would thought making public sexual harassment a specific crime would help women to come forward.

Asked whether she had found the questioning difficult, she said: “Of course, it was difficult.”

She continued: “But it’s difficult for every woman in every walk of life who’s ever encountered any sort of sexual harassment.

“And that’s why I have such a burning zeal to make sure that we empower women to call it out when it happens to them.”

Nokes was asked why it had taken her so long to report Johnson’s actions, to which she replied: “If anyone had said to me in 2003 that I should report it, I think my first question would have been, to whom? How?”

She said that even now, she would “probably struggle to identify who to complain to now to be brutally honest”.

“I, like so many women, had that response of, well, how will this impact upon me?

“How will talking about this have a negative impact on me, and even 18 years later, you can see people trying to turn it back on me. Victim blaming and shaming.”

She added: “Look, I don’t regard myself as a victim. I won’t be a victim. But to read some of the things that have been said about me...you think well, okay, so clearly, some people, some sections of the media have decided that I’m the sort of woman it’s okay to sexually harass.”

Asked whether she had received an apology from Stanley Johnson since she made the accusations, Nokes said: “No of course not, because I think we all know he doesn’t know who I am.”