Anorak News | Me Too and the Mob: ‘sex pest MPs’ should be anonymous

Me Too and the Mob: ‘sex pest MPs’ should be anonymous

by | 8th, February 2018

“‘Sex pest’ MPs to keep anonymity while under investigation over harassment claims,” says the London Evening Standard’s front page. It’s interesting stuff. Given that false and mistaken accusations can ruin lives, might not circumspection be right and proper? Does every victim want their claim and potential victimhood publicised, something that could leave them unable to move on with their lives?

Under new proposals drawn up by a cross-party committee, MPs ruled to have harassed staff will have to write a letter of apology and undergo training, be suspended or forced to face a public vote. At the moment, MPs don’t have any formal disciplinary procedures.

Helping readers to make sense of what is a thorny and important matter is Kate Maltby, the well-connected Tory activist. Maltby is the woman who alleged Damian Green MP made inappropriate advances towards her, including “fleetingly” touching her knee in 2015. She said he sent her a “suggestive” text, which made her feel “awkward, embarrassed and professionally compromised”. He has apologised for making her feel uncomfortable.

She tells the Standard, which counts a number of her friends among the columnists:

“I am pretty concerned about anonymity for those accused, particularly of sexual harassment,” she said [sic] because what we know in all of these cases is it is almost always the case that someone accused, plausibly, of sexual harassment is a serial offender, and that when one woman makes a complaint, others are finally emboldened to do so.”

Why can’t the accusation be examined on its merits? Why do we need a group to bring the accused down? Isn’t assuming that one accusation is the thin edge of the wedge, prejudicial to a fair hearing? How does trial by media achieve justice?

Ms Maltby said: “This working group is clearly a step in the right direction. I think there is a lot still to be hammered out.”

The Standard cites more voices calling for the accused’s name to be made known.

Sophie Walker, leader of the Women’s Equality Party, says: “It’s a concern that the risk of malicious and vexatious complaints features so prominently in this report. None of the allegations that triggered the review were found to have been malicious so having this so high up as an issue to be addressed is misplaced. It triggers all those myths about hysteria and witch-hunts that have been such an unfortunate feature of this issue.”

Isn’t the risk of one innocent being wrongly convicted worth the caution?

Leader of the Commons Andrea Leadsom adds: “This is a big day for Parliament and our politics. It is in the context of this that the confidentiality issue is so concerning. We know that confidentiality can protect victims but it can also be used to protect the guilty and party reputations. The whole Me Too movement has shown just how important public disclosure can be to victims who are otherwise ignored and mistrusted and might not feel confident in coming forward.”

Isn’t that alleged victims, Andrea? Many people who have said #MeToo have yet to have their claims tested in court. Have we not learnt anything from ‘Nick’, the man who claimed to have witnessed MPs murdering children for sexual gratification, whose allegation were branded “credibly and true” by the police, who after such fanfare and trawling found no evidence for any offence?

Let’s stick to the facts and hold people accountable for their actions. But let’s not ruin lives and careers on the strength of an  allegation, however morally right and powerful it is.

Posted: 8th, February 2018 | In: News, Politicians Comment (1) | TrackBack | Permalink