Labour has said the independent report into how the Lib Dems dealt with harassment claims clearly shows the party dealt with them badly.
– Shadow Minister for Equalities and Women Kate Green
It's clear the Lib Dems handled this badly.
All organisations should be fastidious in ensuring any person who is subject to harassment or bullying in the workplace is able to raise their concerns in a secure environment, with the confidence that those concerns will be taken seriously.
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has said all recommendations outlined by Helena Morrissey in her report on the party will be implemented in full:
– Helena Morrissey
I think mistakes were definitely made. They were made by Nick Clegg, Danny Alexander and Jo Swinson.
I think you can make a mistake and learn from them, it's different from setting out to mislead or to do something wrong.
In her inquiry into the processes of the Liberal Democrats, Helena Morrissey found that due to the "serious nature" of the allegations, the complaints should have been escalated for full investigation.
The report says: "The issues were ‘handled’ informally, principally by Jo Swinson and Danny Alexander, because that is what they thought the women wanted – primarily to protect their identities. While their actions were, I believe, in good faith, this approach was ultimately not sufficient.
"Informal handling of complaints is the recommended initial step but the serious nature of these allegations and the fact that a number of women had come forward from separate sources warranted a full investigation.
"Certainly, the issues should also have been escalated to the Chief Executive’s line managers, the Party President and the Chair of the Federal Finance and Administration Committee.
"While the circumstances were obviously sensitive, and will always be so if senior staff are accused of sexual harassment, no one is ‘above the law’ and an organisation has a duty of care to all employees (and volunteers) to investigate..."
An independent inquiry into how the Liberal Democrats dealt with allegations of harassment within the party has concluded that complaints were not investigated in a "timely and professional" manner.
My review has revealed a number of people within the Party failing to properly investigate complaints in a timely and professional manner.
However, the reasons for this have been varied and I found little evidence to suggest a conscious attempt to ‘cover up’ problems.
Instead, there has been a tendency for the Party to try to ‘handle’ complaints rather than to fully and properly investigate them in a timely, professional manner.
– Helena Morrissey
Individuals appear to have been generally acting in good faith but without realising the importance of adhering to process or being aware of the processes in place.
While this may appear a benign mistake, it has caused problems to fester unresolved, to the detriment of all involved.
The Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has said the findings of the independent report into how the party deals with complaints of alleged sexual harassment, make for "sobering reading."
Helena Morrissey's review was prompted by claims made against the party's former chief executive Lord Rennard, who denies the allegations.
Mr Clegg said: "It shows that stretching over a 20 year period a series of mistakes were made which left a number of women feeling seriously let down and for that there is absolutely no excuse whatsoever.
“The report also shows that the individuals who dealt with their complaints had the right motives, but there weren’t the right processes in place to support the women who’d come forward.
"And as leader of the Liberal Democrats I take responsibility for that. That’s why we’ve made a number of big changes in the party in recent years and why we must and will do more."