Labour MP claims Westminster has a ‘whisper network list’ of politicians to avoid

A Labour MP has claimed there is a “whisper network list” of roughly 40 politicians to avoid in Westminster.

Charlotte Nichols, who represents Warrington North, said she was sat down when she first arrived in Parliament and presented with the names of dozens of MPs to keep at arm’s length.

She said she was told she should never be alone with these people, accept a drink from them or share a lift with them.

Indeed, she was advised she should try to avoid them “as far as possible” to keep herself safe, she recalled.

But she stressed the most “dangerous” people are those “you least suspect”.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, Ms Nichols, who was elected in 2019, said she would have the “perfect job” if it was not for “abuse online” and “the culture of toxicity” within Westminster itself.

She said the good in her role still “outweighs the bad” at this stage, but revealed the extent to which she had been advised to take precautions to protect herself from fellow politicians.

Asked what it is like to be a new MP in Westminster, and what she has witnessed in terms of the “toxicity” she described, Ms Nichols claimed there are people universally known in Parliament for their involvement in “bullying or sexual misconduct”.

“We all know and nothing is done and they continue to walk around and do their jobs – and there’s that kind of culture of impunity on it,” she said.

Ms Nichols said she steers clear of these individuals, adding: “Everyone has a kind of whisper network list of the people to avoid, but the problem is that some of the most dangerous people are people who would be the people you least suspect.”

Pressed on what she meant by this “whisper network”, she said: “When I first came into Parliament, there was a group of people that I knew who kind of sat me down and gave me a list of MPs who I should never accept a drink from, who I should never be alone with, who I should never get in a lift with, and who I should try to avoid as far as possible to keep myself safe.”

Ms Nichols did not identify any of these politicians, but said there were roughly 40 on the list.

“I think I was quite staggered at how long the list was,” she said, adding that new names appear “all the time”.

It comes as Westminster has been rocked by a series of scandals over alleged bullying or harassment from MPs in recent months.