Is Westminster harbouring the next harassment scandal?

One politician described as "very handsy", another "not safe in taxis" and what about the unnamed parliamentarian who "needs a new researcher - can't be a woman"?

These are apparently the experiences of female researchers and aides working in Westminster, and shared on a private Whatsapp group seen by The Sun newspaper, allegedly implicating cabinet ministers.

No names have been made public - yet - but after the scandals in Hollywood and the entertainment industry, political parties will be braced for the floodgates to open.

Impropriety in politics is of course nothing new, there have been numerous high-profile allegations over the years, some of which have resulted in investigations or even criminal trials.

But there is heightened concern that the way Parliament and politics operates, which is far from a typical workplace, means that inappropriate behaviour can easily go unchecked.

One researcher, who worked for an MP until earlier this year, told me about being verbally bullied on a number of occasions, and described the support system as an "absolute joke".

Staff in these situations could call a dedicated helpline for harassment claims, set up in 2014, or contact the MP's political party, she said.

But colleagues who had contacted the helpline did not believe any action was taken, and as for contacting the relevant person in the party: "I don't think anyone ever did because we were all too worried that the MPs couldn't be trusted to keep things confidential.

"There is no HR when you work for an MP. Your MP is your HR system. Which means if the problem lies with them, you are absolutely stuck.

"You found out who the decent MPs were to work for and who were abusive by sounding it out with other staffers in the Sports and Social (a parliamentary bar)."

This view is echoed by MPs who have raised cases of abuse in Parliament.

Senior Labour MP John Mann, who has campaigned against child abuse, told Sky News he had been contacted by victims of abuse who had received "outrageous" treatment.

On Monday, in the House of Commons, he threatened to name an MP who had been sent home from a foreign trip, while representing Parliament, for inappropriate behaviour.

:: Theresa May finds Westminster sexual harassment claims 'deeply concerning'

On Friday he said: "I know as well of two cases directly where people have felt unable to come forward, despite the fact that these cases might even have passed the criminal threshold. Certainly they're serious allegations, in one case with witnesses.

"These people ought to have the confidence to come forward because of appalling behaviour - we've seen it in Hollywood, how people have been getting away with things.

"Well I'm saying in Parliament, in the time I've been in and before, people have been getting away with similar things and that's not good enough.

"What's happened is absolutely astonishing in terms of the processes or lack of them in a workplace this would be wholly unacceptable.

"This is a workplace. It is unacceptable and it's about time we lanced this boil of sexual harassment and other bad behaviour in parliament with staff, volunteers, interns and so on.

"The cases I've seen… the way they've been dealt with and the response has been outrageous."

Theresa May's spokesman said the Prime Minister is clear that sexual harassment is "completely unacceptable" and should be raised with the police.

But what happens when behaviour is sleazy or inappropriate, but falls short of the criminal threshold?

The House of Commons authorities admit they have limited powers over "employment matters" such as bullying and harassment because MPs are self-employed.

Conservative and Labour MPs admit that for staff - or even MPs - the prospect of raising these issues with their political parties is highly problematic.

Whips offices, who keep tabs on these matters, will have a vested interest in not publicising these cases.

Staff may also feel it would end their political career to raise it.

Mr Mann said an independent office may need to be set up to handle complaints.

One female Tory MP agreed, saying: "There are around 7,000 people working in parliament, that's the size of a village, it is inconceivable you wouldn't have some individuals who conduct themselves improperly.

"When I have taken things to the whips office in the past, their handling of it has been disgraceful.

"If you were to go to the whips and say a member of cabinet is saying something unacceptable your chief whip cannot separate the fact they must also be protecting the Government… politics gets into all of it.

"It's not just about your reputation but the scandal that could follow. There is simply no proper mechanism to deal with complaints."

If the Westminster harassment scandal does escalate, the spotlight will fall on cases which have been allowed to fall through the cracks.