Saturday 17 August 2019

'I was warned reporting rape could hurt career' - UK Labour activist

Bex Bailey
Bex Bailey

Shaun Connolly

A prominent British Labour activist has said she was raped at a party event in 2011 and felt discouraged to report it when an official said it could damage her career.

Bex Bailey (25), a former member of the party's National Executive Committee, has called for an independent agency to be set up to deal with such issues.

Ms Bailey, who was 19 at the time, told BBC Radio Four's PM programme she did not get the support she needed when she reported the incident to a senior official two years later and was warned taking the matter further could be bad for her career.

Labour has said it takes the allegations "extremely seriously" and has launched an independent inquiry into the claims.

Ms Bailey, who said the attack was not carried out by an MP, but by an individual more senior to her in the party, said she was left scared and ashamed by the incident.

Asked if she had gone to the police, Ms Bailey said: "No, I didn't, for all the reasons that I think a lot of women don't report this.

"I was scared, I felt ashamed, I know that the Labour Party, like any family, loves a good gossip and I didn't want people to know, and I also was worried that I wouldn't be believed if I did. So, no I didn't.

"It took me a while to summon up the courage to tell anyone in the party. But, when I did, I told a senior member of staff, who told me, 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."

Ms Bailey added: "I wasn't given good advice. I wasn't given a procedure when I asked for it so that I could, sort of, see what would happen if I did report it and then make a decision.

"It seemed to be that there wasn't one that existed and I wasn't signposted to anyone else that could help me in terms of a charity or anything like that. I don't think I was even given a cup of tea at the time."

A Labour spokesman said: "The Labour Party takes these allegations extremely seriously. It takes great courage for victims of rape to come forward - and all support must and will be made available to them.

"We would strongly recommend that the police investigate the allegations of criminal actions that Bex Bailey has made.

"Labour will also launch an independent investigation into claims that a party employee acted improperly over these 2011 allegations."

Ed Miliband, who was Labour leader in the UK at the time of the alleged rape, said he was "shocked by the horrific allegations" and praised Ms Bailey for "showing great bravery and courage in speaking out".

Ms Bailey said an independent agency was needed to avoid conflicts of interest in the party.

"The current procedure relies on you having to tell a member of staff actually, in the first instance," she said.

"That relies on staff members who perhaps... are inclined to be loyal to the Labour Party and put that first, instead of the individuals coming forward."

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News