Lord Rennard claims: Peer reprimanded over telephone call

Nick Clegg faced questions about what he knew and when on his weekly phone-in radio show on LBC

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The Lib Dems have reprimanded a peer following reports he telephoned and angrily remonstrated with one of the women who had complained to newspapers about Lord Rennard's conduct.

Nick Clegg's aides said he regarded Lord Stoneham's conduct as "completely unacceptable."

Former Lib Dem chief executive Lord Rennard is accused of inappropriate behaviour towards at least 10 women.

But party colleague Baroness Williams called him a "very fine man".

Lord Rennard quit his party role in 2009 and, over the last week, he has faced accusations of sexually inappropriate behaviour towards female activists.

Health concerns

During a phone-in on LBC Radio on Wednesday, Lib Dem leader and Deputy Prime Minister Mr Clegg admitted that concerns over Lord Rennard's behaviour had been "in the background" when he resigned, but added that he had heard no concrete allegations until last week.

Police have spoken to party officials about claims of inappropriate behaviour towards women by the peer.

Mr Clegg said wanted a change of personnel when Lord Rennard quit but the "immediate reason" for his going was "ill health".

Friends of Lord Rennard also told the BBC he had gone after specific health warnings.

It has since been reported that his colleague Lord Stoneham called one of the women who had complained to newspapers about Lord Rennard.

The BBC understands the Lib Dem chief whip in the Lords, Lord Newby, spoke to Lord Stoneham to warn him over his conduct.

But Baroness Williams, a senior member of the party, said the Lord Rennard situation had been "hopelessly exaggerated" and he was "a very fine man".

She went on to say that women in Parliament were "not treated very fairly" and described the Commons as a "very bullying place, a very masculine culture" that needed to change.

Mr Clegg said his then chief-of-staff Danny Alexander had "challenged" and "confronted" Lord Rennard in 2008 over "general concerns" about his behaviour, and had told the peer that "this is not acceptable".

He added: "We were told at the time that the women didn't want to take the matter forward in relation to complaints."

An email sent to a senior aide by the Daily Telegraph shortly before the 2010 election setting out detailed allegations had not been "passed on to me".

Lord Stoneham was operations director at Liberal Democrat HQ from 2003 to 2010.

He has been a Lib Dem whip in the Lords since he was made a life peer in 2011

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