Labour MP shares list of 20 alleged ‘sex pests’ on WhatsApp

Labour MP Charlotte Nichols (UK Parliament)
Labour MP Charlotte Nichols (UK Parliament)

Labour MP shared a list of 20 Westminster figures alleged to be “sex pests” with colleagues on a WhatsApp group.

Charlotte Nichols shared the list of names of those purportedly accused of sexual harassment with some colleagues – later claiming she could not be a “bystander”.

Some of the MPs on the list had previously been accused of sexual misconduct, but included and at least one Tory MP who has not previously been accused, according to The Mail on Sunday.

The move sparked anger among MPs, with one saying it was “grossly irresponsible” and calling on her to report any specific claims to the police or parliamentary authorities.

Ms Nichols told the newspaper that the list had been shared “without context”, contained no specific allegations, and said she had deleted the message sent to a particular WhatsApp group by mistake.

But the MP also took to Twitter to defend the decision to share the list – saying she could not “legally make a third-party report” either to parliament’s Independent Complaints and Grievances Scheme (ICGS) or police.

“Am I not meant to warn others about conduct I’ve seen, experienced or been told about that many times by different people that it’s a clear pattern of behaviour?” the MP for Warrington North tweeted.

Ms Nichols said: I’m many things but a bystander isn’t one, and while Westminster is as grim as it is I won’t pretend otherwise.

The backbencher added: “What’s ACTUALLY irresponsible is the lack of real action to sort out Westminster’s sexual harassment problem which is so endemic other MPs and staff have to be warned about some colleagues’ behaviour to keep them safe! Wish it wasn’t this way, but for now it is. So here we are.”

One senior Labour figure told the Mail: “If you believe you have evidence that X, Y or Z is a wrong ‘un, then fair enough. But you can’t just put names out like this.”

Ms Nichols said in November that there is a “whisper network list” of around 40 politicians at Westminster to avoid.

The MP, who entered parliament in 2019, said she was told to avoid being alone with these politicians, adding that some were notorious for their “bullying or sexual misconduct”.

Responding to criticism of the deleted WhatsApp list on Twitter, she said “the fact the story is that I’ve somehow done something wrong by sending that message, rather than that those I’ve been warned about multiple times … I’d argue they’re looking at the issue the wrong way around!”

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle recently defended the ICGS system set up in 2018 to handle claims of bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct, despite criticism that the process is too slow.

He told the BBC that he believed that parliament was still a safe working environment for young men and women – despite a series of allegations of sexual assault and abuse made against MPs.

“I really do believe that and if not, we will hound out [MPs] and make sure that those people who are not playing are abiding by the rules,” he said.

“I would always say anything serious please go to the police – don’t even think of anything else would always be my advice,” he said. “And I always say to passholders of the House, my door’s open. If you’ve got issues … come and see me.”

Published by anthonyhayble

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