Sexual abuse in Westminster won’t be ended by the revamped ministerial code | Kate Maltby

My complaint against Damian Green was deemed ‘plausible’. Without an independent body to look at victims’ claims, others can’t hope for the same result

I have been trying not to think about sexual harassment in Westminster. In October, I publicly described an uncomfortable experience with Damian Green, then the de facto deputy prime minister. Although others have since minimised my story as a tale of a “touch on a knee”, I perceived that he was suggesting sex while offering me a job. I expected an apology – the headline of my piece acknowledged that men such as Green rarely realise they’re doing anything wrong. His actions – threatening to sue for libel, briefing the Daily Mail to destroy my reputation, which he has denied – turned it into all-out war. In December, he resigned. It wasn’t a victory. No woman wants to be defined as the complainant in a sexual harassment case. My voice, cultivated over years as a journalist, has been lost in noise.

Yet today I’ve returned to this depressing issue. I agreed to be interviewed by the Guardian to support Ava Etemadzadeh, whose case against Labour MP Kelvin Hopkins has been languishing in the long grass since October. She first made a complaint two years ago. We met this week with Bridget Harris, one of 10 women who brought complaints against Liberal Democrat peer Lord Rennard. With the Women’s Equality party, which has supported us where others have failed, we are calling for independent bodies to adjudicate harassment across political parties.

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