Prospective candidate Jasper Gerard faces storm of criticism after Savile comment
A prospective Liberal Democrat election candidate in Kent is
facing criticism after saying the allegations against the party's
chief executive were not a "Jimmy Savile case revisited."
Author and journalist Jasper Gerard was adopted as the party's
candidate for Maidstone and Weald at the weekend.
In an interview with the BBC's "World At One" about the party's
investigations into allegations against Lord Rennard, he
acknowledged they were serious claims, but suggested they were
He said: "We should not be treating this as a major, major
crisis. It is something that is unfortunate but it is being blown
out of all proportion."
"We need to take some kind of degree of proportion about this.
It seems like it was a bit of inappropriate behaviour... a clumsy
pass, which I am not remotely defending."
"We are still going on about whether somebody did or did not put
their hand on somebody's knee. This is not a Jimmy Savile case
He told the KM Group his comments had been misconstrued. "I
certainly was not trying to belittle the women who have come
forward and who, regardless of thev results of the inquiry, have
done a very brave thing in coming forward. I am sorry if my remarks
"We need to take some kind of degree of proportion about this. It seems like it was a bit of inappropriate behaviour... a clumsy pass" – Jasper Gerard
He also queried in the radio interview why the allegations had
surfaced just ahead of the crucial Eastleigh by-election and
described events as an "Edwardian melodrama."
"As a journalist I was always told to ask: why are we being told
about this? Who benefits from it?"
He later clarified his comments, posting on Twitter that he had
not meant to question those making the claims.
In a tweet, he said: "Inappropriate sexual behaviour never
acceptable. My remarks were misconstrued. Certainly not impugning
integrity of any women who comes forward".
However, Alison Smith, one of the women making allegations
against Lord Rennard tweeted: "Hoping that Jasper Gerard will be
de-selected for those comments."
Mr Gerard, 45, was selected to contest
what the party regards as a potentially winnable seat at a meeting
in Coxheath Village Hall on Saturday.
He is a former chief interviewer for The Sunday Times and Times
leader writer and has been a speech writer for previous party
He was born and brought up in the Weald, lives near Tunbridge
Wells and is married with two children.
He succeeds Peter Carroll as the candidate, who cut the
Conservative majority to just under 6,000 at the last election.
He said he would focus his campaign on whether Helen Grant was
the right person to be MP amid high-profile allegations concerning
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