Published: 13:00, 04 November 2017
Members of parliament accused of sexual harassment are being treated as ‘guilty before proven innocent’, a Kent MP has said.
MP for North Thanet Sir Roger Gale, 74, added it is ‘despicable’ the way allegations are being made and dubbed it a ‘witch hunt at Westminster,’ speaking today to the BBC.
The veteran MP said: “We are not treating them as allegations. We are treating them as fact.
“There are literally hundreds of decent, hardworking, honest men and women on both sides of the House of Commons who, this morning, will be going out to their constituency advice surgeries, to try to help people.
“In order to do that, they need to have the trust of the people they are trying to help, and to sell tomorrow’s chip wrappings on the back of allegations that are unfounded and undermine that trust in that way I think is despicable.
“In the context, there is no proof that I can see yet of any wrongdoing. There may be things that have been done, a hand on a knee. Fine, you know, 15 years ago that may have been acceptable where it’s not today.”
A number of MPs have denied allegations of inappropriate behaviour this week, the latest being Conserative MP for Deal and Dover Charlie Elphicke.
Mr Elphicke was suspended by his party following 'serious allegations’ yesterday but quickly denied any wrongdoing in a tweet.
His suspension comes after The Sun released an unverified spreadsheet claiming 36 MPs had been embroiled in a "sleaze" scandal, which was leaked on Twitter.
Sevenoaks MP Michael Fallon this week resigned as defence secretary amid allegations he had inappropriately touched a female broadcaster.
Today Sir Gale said judgement should not be rushed and for ‘responsible people’ to decide if the accusations have any weight.
“Before we rush to judgment and say that everyone is guilty before they are proven innocent, we should look at the facts and decide and allow responsible people with access to look at the evidence to decide whether there actually is an accusation to be answered,” he said.
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