A Labour Party activist claims she was discouraged by a senior party official from reporting an alleged rape, which she says took place at a party event. The unnamed official reportedly told her that doing so could “damage” her.
Bex Bailey, a former member of Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC), waived her right to anonymity to reveal she was given no advice on how to deal with the incident – other than being dissuaded from reporting it.
“I told a senior member of staff, who told me… or it was suggested to me that I not report it, I was told that if I did it might damage me – and that might be their genuine view, it might be that that was the case, in which case that shows that we have a serious problem in politics with this issue anyway.”
Bailey, now 25, told BBC Radio 4 she was 19 when she was raped by someone senior to her in the Labour Party, who was not an MP. She did not report the incident to the police, but instead tried to “pretend it didn’t happen.”
“It took me a while to summon up the courage to tell anyone in the party,” she said.
Two years later, Bailey said she finally confided in a party official. “It was quite a horrible experience and this is why I’ve been fighting so hard for changes to the way that we do this.”
Bailey went public with the allegations in an attempt to highlight the way cases like her’s are mishandled. She is calling for an independent agency “free from political bias” to deal with such allegations.
Labour has launched an independent investigation into the incident and has called on police to investigate the assault. Party leader Jeremy Corbyn recently wrote to members, urging them to step forward and use “confidential party procedures” to report complaints.
The allegations come following several days of scandal about sexual harassment and assaults at Westminster. A so-called “dodgy dossier” has named dozens of Tory MPs, including Cabinet ministers, alongside unsubstantiated accusations of serious sexual abuse and harassment and improper behavior.
The leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom, announced on Monday plans to set up a specialized support team to help victims report their cases to police.