Labour suspends ex-minister Ivan Lewis over sexual harassment claim

Party suspends MP for Bury South after woman alleged he touched her leg and invited her to his house in 2010, when she was 19

Labour has suspended the former minister Ivan Lewis over allegations of sexual harassment.

The party’s decision means the MP for Bury South, who was placed under investigation last week, will sit as an independent MP in the House of Commons.

A spokesperson for Labour said: “The Labour party takes all allegations of sexual harassment extremely seriously. Ivan Lewis is currently suspended from the Labour party pending an investigation.”

Lewis has denied the allegations of sexual harassment after one woman told BuzzFeed that he touched her leg and invited her to his house during a Labour party event in 2010 when she was 19.

A statement issued through his lawyers at the time said Lewis had “never made non-consensual sexual comments or sexual advances to women”.

It added: “However, I understand that a few women have claimed that my behaviour made them feel uncomfortable. I have on occasion asked women I work with out for drinks or dinner, or developed strong feelings for them, and I am genuinely sorry if this was unwelcome or inappropriate in the circumstances, and caused anyone to feel awkward.”

In response to his suspension, Lewis said on Thursday that he was “deeply saddened” to hear of his suspension pending investigation, adding: “I strongly dispute the allegations and intend to cooperate fully with the Labour party’s investigation.”When Lewis was a minister in the last Labour government, he apologised for sending unwanted phone messages to a young female civil servant in his private office.

A string of MPs have now been suspended or placed under investigation over accusations of sexual harassment since women and men were prompted to speak out in the aftermath of the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

Over the past month, allegations about sexual misconduct in politics have led to the resignation of Michael Fallon as defence secretary, investigations into two senior ministers, Damian Green and Mark Garnier, and the suspension of the whip from Conservative backbencher Charlie Elphicke. Tory MPs Dan Poulter, Daniel Kawczynski, Stephen Crabb and Chris Pincher have been referred to their party’s internal disciplinary procedures.

Labour has suspended two other MPs, Kelvin Hopkins and Jared O’Mara, while another, Clive Lewis, is under investigation.

Greg Hands, a Conservative government minister, appeared to accuse Labour of double standards in suspending Lewis over sexual harassment allegations but not another MP, Emma Dent Coad, who apologised for remarks about a black London assembly member.

In a controversial tweet that appeared to link Lewis’s suspension to his politics and religion, Hands said: “Tough action from Labour leadership against Jewish Blairite Ivan Lewis – but just ‘a chat’ for hate-filled ‘Ghetto Boy’ rhetoric of Kensington Corbynista Emma Dent Coad.”

A Labour source said: “Greg Hands knows nothing about either case and should be ashamed of his innuendo.” Hands later deleted his tweet and said it was “carelessly worded” and “not meant to cause offence”.


Rowena Mason Deputy political editor

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Labour suspends Kelvin Hopkins MP over sexual misconduct claim
Party launches investigation into claims, which Guardian understands were brought to then-chief whip’s attention two years ago, following fresh evidence

Heather Stewart

02, Nov, 2017 @10:54 PM

Article image
Clive Lewis cleared by Labour over sexual harassment claim
MP ‘very pleased’ after party investigation dismisses allegation he grabbed a woman’s bottom, Guardian has learned

Heather Stewart Political editor

12, Dec, 2017 @7:39 AM

Article image
Labour suspends John Woodcock over sexual harassment claim
MP for Barrow and Furness faces allegation he sent inappropriate text messages to female former aide

Pippa Crerar Deputy political editor

30, Apr, 2018 @7:30 PM

Article image
Westminster sexual misconduct allegations: the MPs accused so far
Eight Conservative MPs and four from Labour have been named since claims of unwanted sexual behaviour emerged

Haroon Siddique

06, Nov, 2017 @2:12 PM

Article image
Labour 'dragging its feet' on tackling sexual harassment – activist
Bex Bailey accuses party of delaying independent report by Karon Monaghan QC

Kevin Rawlinson

17, Sep, 2018 @6:43 PM

Article image
Labour MPs angry over handling of harassment hearing
Outrage as Kelvin Hopkins given permission to submit written questions to Ava Etemadzadeh

Jessica Elgot Political correspondent

22, Mar, 2018 @2:21 PM

Article image
Ivan Lewis: Labour wrong to abandon One Nation politics
Shadow cabinet minister argues that party can win again only if it builds up support in the ‘mainstream majority’ encompassing people from all backgrounds

Nicholas Watt Chief political correspondent

11, May, 2015 @5:00 AM

Article image
Labour looks like a party of urban elite, Ivan Lewis warns in his essay
Shadow culture secretary says party's 'modernising zeal' is blinding it to people's concerns over identity and belonging

Patrick Wintour, political editor

09, Sep, 2011 @7:21 PM

Article image
Young people 'puritanical' on sexual harassment – Tory MP
Kemi Badenoch thinks younger generation’s view of appropriate sexual behaviour is conservative

Rowena Mason Deputy political editor

18, Jan, 2018 @8:00 PM

Article image
Tate suspends contact with donor over sexual harassment claims
Art dealer Anthony d’Offay, praised for ‘one of most generous gifts’ ever to UK galleries, denies inappropriate behaviour

Mark Brown Arts correspondent

14, Jan, 2018 @5:05 PM