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UK cabinet minister, PM aide retained despite accusations of sexual misconduct: Reports

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A government spokesperson said the allegations of misconduct were being taken ‘extremely seriously’ (PA Wire)

An unnamed cabinet minister and a high-ranking aide to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson continued to be in office despite serious allegations of sexual assault against them, according to reports.

Two women, both serving in senior roles now, have offered first-hand accounts of their personal harrowing experiences -- one of them assaulted and the other groped by top political figures.

A former parliamentary staff member for the Conservative party, choosing to remain anonymous, finally broke her silence about the sexual assault she faced from an MP who is currently a cabinet minister.

“I was sexually assaulted by someone who’s now a cabinet minister, and I was in my early 20s and didn’t really know how to deal with it. I was super drunk. He’s feeding me more wine and I’m already quite obviously tanked,” she told Sky News.

“After a while, I was like ‘you know, what, would you mind if I just went to bed?’ So I went to bed. But obviously, he didn’t leave me alone. And then I woke up the next morning and I realized what had happened."

She reported the misconduct to her colleagues and the MP she was working for at the time, who encouraged her to report the matter to the police.

However, after initial discussions with the police, she decided not to make a formal complaint to the Conservative party. 

“I was too scared to kickstart that process and risk it spiraling out of control," she said, fearing that it could ruin her career and life.

A Conservative party spokesperson was quoted as saying that they have an "established code of conduct and complaints procedure" where people can report complaints in confidence, which are "taken seriously".

Another woman, a former Conservative aide, also alleged that she was groped by a No 10 employee before his appointment to a top job in Downing Street.

She made multiple complaints about the employee's appointment but no action was taken. 

“I heard that he was going to get a job in Downing Street. I raised it with a number of people. Nothing happened," she said.

"So I then formally complained to the Cabinet Office. I just felt the responsibility to do it again, partly because the office he’s going to be working in is full of women. And I just thought he’d do it again."

When she complained again, his boss dismissed it on the grounds that the man was "good looking and had women throwing themselves at him."

"All of those things have to be handled carefully and sensitively, and we have processes for dealing with them. And people who have complaints should raise them in the normal way," Johnson said on being asked whether he had done enough to tackle sexual misconduct in politics.

Charlotte Nichols, the Labour MP for Warrington North, also outlined her inappropriate experience, saying she had been "repeatedly propositioned by an MP who is old enough to be my grandfather and sometimes in front of other colleagues who have either laughed it off or said nothing when he’s done it."

Last month, MP Christopher Pincher was forced to resign over sexual misconduct, for whom Johnson was accused of lying.

The UK sees approximately 85,000 women experience rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault by penetration in England and Wales alone every year.

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