UK Politics

Lord Rennard issues fresh denial of sexual impropriety claims

Lord Rennard
Image caption Lord Rennard is a former Lib Dem chief executive

Senior Liberal Democrat peer Lord Rennard has issued a further statement denying allegations by women party workers of sexual impropriety.

He said he was "disappointed and angry" about the allegations, broadcast by Channel 4 News.

Lord Rennard said he knew of no complaints against him in his 27 years working for the Lib Dems.

But he has temporarily stood aside from the Lib Dems in the Lords to avoid "embarrassment" to the party.

The Lib Dems have launched a review of how it handles allegations of harassment.

'Attempt to damage'

On Thursday, Channel 4 News aired allegations by a number of women of sexual impropriety over several years by Lord Rennard, the party's former chief executive,

The women told the news programme he abused his position for years by inappropriately touching and propositioning them

Allegations from two more women were broadcast on Friday.

The latest statement issued on behalf of Lord Rennard, who has been overseeing elections in Armenia, said: "I absolutely deny any suggestion of improper touching, nor did I invite a woman to join me in my room.

"I note that these alleged instances supposedly took place in public bars with other people present. I am disappointed and angry that anonymous accusations from several years ago are once again being made public in this manner in a clear attempt to damage my reputation.

Let me reiterate that in 27 years working for the Liberal Democrat Party, not a single personal complaint was ever made against me to my knowledge."

Immediate review

The original Channel 4 report alleged that some of the women had reported the allegations to figures in the party but it was not taken any further or their claims were not taken seriously.

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has asked party president Tim Farron to conduct an immediate review into the party's procedures for dealing with allegations of harassment, including an examination of how allegations made in the past have been handled.

A spokesman for Mr Clegg said: "The first he knew of the allegations in the report was after the party was contacted by Channel 4."

A Lib Dem statement later said the newly-formed review group had already had its first meeting.

An internal investigation into the specific allegations raised by Channel 4 News has also begun under the party's disciplinary procedures, it said.

"There are a number of questions that have been raised and our reviews will ensure we properly address all of them," the party said.

"We will not tolerate harassment in our party and we urge anyone to contact the chief executive or use our confidential whistle-blower procedure if they have issues they wish to raise as a result of Channel 4's report."