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Public 'lulled into false sense of security' over sexism

Voters had been "lulled into a false sense of security" about sexism in the 21st century until online misogyny proved hatred towards woman was very much alive, an equalities minister has said.

Jo Swinson spoke to Good Morning Britain ahead of a summit on sexism, which she said, would help the government to gauge how bad the problem of online trolls had become.

Ms Swinson will chair a summit today which tries to tackle lad culture, gender equality and homophobic bullying.

She said trolling had exposed the level of sexism already out there, which probably would have been part of an everyday conversation down the pub but was now published online.

Trolling, where abusive and threatening messages are sent online to someone voicing an opinion, has made headlines again after Judy Finnagin's daughter Chloe received rape threats online.

Isabella Sorley, 23, and John Nimmo, 25, were sentenced to 12 and eight weeks respectively after sending rape and death threats to feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez, after she campaigned to have Jane Austen on the £10 note.

And Emma Watson was threatened with a nude photo leak when she launched the feminist HeForShe campaign.

Minister: Flexible working hours 'are not a right'

The flexible working hours policy that the Government wants to extend is "not a right" and employers will be able to turn down inconvenient requests, the employment minister has told Good Morning Britain.

Lib Dem MP Jo Swinson maintained that the scheme was already "working well" for 10 million employees and said that extending it further would "help our economy".

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Carbon credit scams made £24m from 'targeting elderly'

Nineteen financial firms that conned more than 1,500 people out of £24 million through carbon credit scams "preyed on older people", the industry regulator said.

More than a dozen companies that "preyed on older people" through carbon credit scams have been closed by the industry's regulator. Credit: PA

The companies offered "worthless" carbon credits - or Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) - and used high-pressure sales techniques on customers mostly ranging between 50 and 85-years-old, according to the Insolvency Service.

Those firms have been wound up by the service in the last 15 months, Consumer Minister Jo Swinson announced.

She said: "This is a particularly contemptible scam as it not only preyed on older people trying to maximise their savings, but also targeted their sincere desire to make ethical investments. Instead, investors have been left out of pocket with shares that are either worthless or do not exist.

Ms Swinson added that "robust action" would be taken against any more companies attempting the scam.

Govt: Employers face 'tough action' for cheating staff

Employers who cheat their staff out of minimum wage will face "tough action" and be made an example of, said Employment Relations Minister Jo Swinson.

Paying less than the minimum wage is illegal. If employers break this law they need to know that we will take tough action.

This is why I'm making changes so it is easier to name and shame employers who break the law. This gives a clear warning to rogue employers who ignore the rules that they will face reputational consequences as well as a fine if they don't pay the minimum wage.

– Employment Relations Minister Jo Swinson

'Archaic' attitudes at work for women with children

Many women are still facing “archaic” attitudes at work after giving birth, a report has found.

Two out of five of the women interviewed by law firm Slater & Gordon said they believed younger, childless colleagues were given more support and encouragement.

Employment minister Jo Swinson said the Government was committed to helping women make the most of their talents Credit: PA

Employment Minister Jo Swinson did not outright criticise the report findings, but said the Government was committed to “the best use of women’s talents”

"It is illegal to sack a woman because she is pregnant or on maternity leave," she said.

"Such action constitutes pregnancy discrimination and could result in an employer in front of an employment tribunal.

"The Government is committed to making sure that more businesses make the best use of women's talents throughout the organisation, from boardroom to the shop floor."

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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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