A Labour MP has told Yahoo News UK she was touched in an unwanted sexual manner by a male MP amid growing concerns about the behaviour of politicians in Westminster.
Charlotte Nichols, the MP for Warrington North, said she has been a victim of sexual misconduct at least a dozen times since arriving in parliament.
"As a younger woman MP, I've had instances of being propositioned in front of colleagues by an MP old enough to be my granddad repeatedly," Nichols said.
"People making sort of inappropriate comments about your appearance; people touching you in places they shouldn't; or inviting you back to theirs.”
Nichols, 31, has not identified the alleged perpetrators but said they were from multiple political parties and that some of the MPs who sexually harassed her were senior figures.
"It's not even that they're all sort of random backbenchers in different parties and things," she told Yahoo News UK.
"Some of these are quite senior people in government - so, when they're abusing their positions... [for] bullying and harassment, or for sexual misconduct it can be even more difficult for people on the receiving end of it to feel like they're able to do anything about it or to speak out.”
The issue of sexual misconduct in parliament is so marked that Nichols said she was warned upon starting as an MP in 2019 that there were certain male MPs she should avoid for her own safety.
“I was sat down quite early on by a few people that I knew when I came into parliament who told me people to stay away from - never accept a drink from, to never get a cab with, or share a lift with, and all that sort of thing," she said.
"And it's not just about keeping yourself safe on a personal safety level, but it's also your professional reputation."
"Obviously, staff get the majority of harassment and abuse, and things like that, because ultimately, it's all about power. And this is a very hierarchical workplace," she said.
She added: “This country is meant to be the seat of democracy and we are the people that make the laws. The fact that there are so many people here who aren't abiding by the laws they set is a concern. We should be upholding much higher standards.”
Nichols told Yahoo that she did not feel comfortable reporting to the relevant authorities for personal reasons.
The House of Commons did not comment when approached by Yahoo News UK about this story.
Concerns over a toxic culture in Westminster have grown in recent months.
In April, The Sunday Times reported that three Conservative cabinet ministers and two Labour shadow cabinet ministers are facing allegations of sexual misconduct after being reported to the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS).
That followed reports that 56 MPs had been referred to the ICGS over about 70 separate complaints in the previous year.
In May then cabinet minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said a male MP once pinned her against a wall and told her that she “wants him”.
In July, two unions which represent more than 1,000 parliamentary workers wrote to House of Commons speaker Lindsay Hoyle warning there was a “seemingly endless list of allegations of sexual misconduct by MPs” and that it was not a safe workplace.
In September, two women alleged they had been assaulted by a cabinet minister and groped by a Number 10 aide.
One high-profile conviction came in May when Imran Ahmad Khan, the Conservative MP for Wakefield, was sentenced to 18 months in prison after being found guilty of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy after plying him with alcohol at a party in 2008.
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