Party members clash with Clegg

Nick Clegg was engaged in bad-tempered clashes with Liberal Democrat activists over so-called secret courts legislation and benefits changes tonight.

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Clegg clashes with Lib Dem members at conference

Nick Clegg was involved in a bad-tempered clash with Liberal Democrat activists over so-called secret courts legislation and benefits changes tonight.

The Deputy Prime Minister was accused of abandoning the party's values during a question and answer session.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg holds a Q&A session. Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Activists challenged Mr Clegg over the Justice and Security Bill, which would allow courts to sit in secret in some civil cases, with one Lib Dem member questioning why he had "abandoned the high ground" by engaging with the proposals.

Another said: "How can we call ourselves a Liberal Democratic party any more if we vote for this legislation?"

However, the party leader said the intelligence services were currently unable to defend themselves in some civil court cases because they could not disclose sensitive material. He also stressed that many changes had already been made to the original proposals.


Business Secretary renews call for higher borrowing

Vince Cable has renewed his call for billions of pounds more infrastructure investment funded by higher borrowing, saying the Government had to "really get moving".

Vince Cable, Business Secretary Credit: Press Association

The Business Secretary admitted there were dangers in pushing up the Government's debt in an effort to kickstart the economy. But he insisted the balance of risks seemed to be changing and ministers had to be open minded.

Alexander: Conversations with Rennard 'were not easy'

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, has revealed more about his "not easy conversations" with the Lib Dems' former chief executive Lord Rennard over allegations of sexual impropriety.

In an article for Lib Dem Voice, Mr Alexander, who was then Nick Clegg's Chief of Staff in 2008, said that Jo Swinson told him about "deeply troubling" concerns expressed to her privately:

Having discussed the matter with Nick, I spoke directly to Lord Rennard.

I explained the nature of the concerns and warned him in strong terms that any such conduct would be wholly unacceptable and wrong.

Lord Rennard categorically denied the allegations, as he continues to do.

It is a fundamental liberal principle that a person is innocent until proven guilty, but I was clear that these were serious issues and that given what was being said he needed to avoid any situation that could possibly cause further concern.

These were not easy conversations, nor should they have been.

I reported this back to Jo and she spoke again to the women concerned, to tell them what had been done.

The feedback at the time was that we had done what was wanted.

I am unaware of any complaints that date from after those conversations.


Swinson: A number of Rennard 'victims' confided in me

Jo Swinson told ITV News: "This is an issue which is very sensitive...very important to the people that confined in me" Credit: ITV News

The equalities minister Jo Swinson has revealed details for the first time of how she handled claims of sexual impropriety involving the Lib Dems' former chief executive Lord Rennard.

She told the party's spring conference that "a number of women" had confided in her about alleged incidents several years ago.

Their "shared objective" with her had been to make sure the alleged behaviour stopped in future, Mrs Swinson said.

She added: "Of course, I did not name names when I spoke to people in the leader's office about these claims."

Danny Alexander, then Mr Clegg's chief of staff, met Lord Rennard, who denied the allegations and continues to deny them.

Mrs Swinson said she had told the women what action had been taken and encouraged them to come forward again if there were issues in future.

"I have not heard any account of inappropriate behaviour subsequent to the action that I and Danny took," she added.

Swinson: I took Lord Rennard allegations seriously

The Lib Dem women and equalities minister Jo Swinson has told ITV News she took the complaints about former chief executive Lord Rennard seriously.

She told political correspondent Libby Wiener: "I did take those issues seriously...This is an issue which is very sensitive, very important to the people that confined in me."

But she refused to answer whether the party's leadership knew about those complaints.

Two inquiries have been set up by the party to look at the specific allegations against Lord Rennard and the wider party processes.

Lord Rennard has strongly denied all the claims against him.

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