Labour MP Chris Bryant shocked the Commons as he revealed a Daily Mail reporter once came up to him in a bar to tell him bets were being taken on his suicide.
There were audible gasps as he recounted the incident, which happened in 2003, during a statement on action being taken to combat harassment in Parliament.
The Rhondda MP said: “I remember in 2003 a journalist from the Mail on Sunday coming up to me in Strangers bar saying ‘We’re all taking bets on when you will commit suicide - I hope it’ll be before Christmas’.”
He later corrected the claim and said it was in fact a Daily Mail reporter who had spoken to him.
A spokesman for the Daily Mail refuted the allegation.
“This is not the first time Mr Bryant – who is a prominent supporter of Hacked Off and has a long history of hostility to the Mail – has peddled this scurrilous smear,” they said.
“He attempted to include it in his evidence to the Leveson Inquiry, but not only did the journalist concerned categorically deny making the remark, he denied ever having met Mr Bryant.
“The identity of the journalist, who left the Mail many years ago, was redacted from Mr Bryant’s evidence by the inquiry. It is utterly disgraceful that Mr Bryant should use Parliamentary privilege to repeat an allegation that was rejected by the Leveson Inquiry. He should withdraw it immediately.”
Leader of the House Andrea Leadsom, who was reporting the findings of the first meeting of a cross-party working group set up in the wake of harassment allegations in Westminster, said she was “so sorry” to hear of the incident.
Leadsom said counselling services would be made available to all Parliamentary staff and a new service to offer support and advice around bullying and harassment would be set up “as a matter of urgency”.
Labour MP Jess Phillips and Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas said it was vital the new service addressed the issue of sexual harassment directly and did not simply “re-nose” current anti-bullying policy.
Leadsom said a further report would be made to the House before the Christmas recess.
Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 UK and ROI (this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill).
Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393.
Get Connected is a free advice service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email: email@example.com