Trade secretary weighs in on Caroline Nokes harassment claims
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Caroline Nokes MP, former minister and chair of the Women and Equalities Select Committee, has accused Stanley Johnson, former MEP and father of the Prime Minister, of “smacking her on the bum” in 2003.
Ms Nokes’ comments came during a panel discussion between four female MPs over violence against women in the wake of Sarah Everard’s murder in March.
Ms Nokes who waived her right to anonymity during the broadcast discussion, claims the incident occurred at the Conservative Party Conference in Blackpool in 2003 when she was 31 and the former MEP was 63.
Labour’s leader Sir Keir Starmer has said the allegations against Mr Johnson were “serious” and needed to be “fully investigated.”
He said: “I don’t think at this stage it’s for me to say what should happen as a result.
“But it takes guts and bravery to come forward to make allegations like this.”
“They now need to be fully investigated – either by the Conservative Party, or by the criminal authorities.
“Those allegations having been made, there now needs to be an investigation into them.”
Speaking to Sky News, Ms Nokes accused the 81-year-old of telling her “you’ve got a lovely seat”.
“I can remember a really prominent man – at the time the Conservative candidate for Teignbridge in Devon – smacking me on the backside about as hard as he could and going, ‘oh, Romsey, you’ve got a lovely seat.’
“I now regard it as a duty, an absolute duty, to call out wherever you see it.”
“Be the noisy, aggravating, aggressive woman in the room because if I’m not prepared to do that, then my daughter won’t be prepared to do that… you do get to a point where you go ‘up with this, I will not put’.”
“I would have been in my early 30s, so old enough, old enough to call it out.”
Stanley Johnson has denied these claims and suggested he does not remember Ms Nokes.
Mr Johnson spoke to Sky News outside his home after being asked for a comment, he said: “I have no recollection of Caroline Nokes at all- but there you go.”
Yesterday Home Office minister Damian Hinds said an investigation will be carried out into the claims “if this is the appropriate course of action.”
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “I haven’t spoken to the PM about this. I think I can point you to what Damian Hinds said this morning about the importance of women and girls being free from harassment and the action the Government has taken on that.
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“This is effectively about a private individual. I am not going to be drawn, again, into specific allegations against a private individual. Of course, we would want anyone in any circumstance who feels they have been a victim of any kind of harassment to be free to come forward and report it to the appropriate authorities.”
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