'I was lunged at on a regular basis in Westminster,' says former Labour advisor

A former Labour advisor has revealed she was "lunged at on a regular basis" when she worked in Westminster.

Ayesha Hazarika said she didn't complain at the time because she feared she would not be believed and that it could end her career.

It follows claims up to 36 MPs, including 20 ministers, have been accused of inappropriate behaviour towards women.

Speaking to ITV's Good Morning Britain, Ms Hazarika said: "When I entered Westminster at the age of 21 somebody lunged at me on a regular basis.

"I was quite young. I felt embarrassed and like it was my fault. I thought no one would believe me.

"In Westminster you trade on power. A lot of MPs can make or break your career.

"I was ambitious. I didn't want to mark myself out as a troublemaker. I was just a temporary staff member at that point as well."

The ex-Labour advisor, who is now a political commentator, said there was a culture of "turning a blind eye" to what was going on.

She added when many male MPs reach a certain level of power they see such behaviour as a "perk of the job".

"There is a culture of late nights, long hours, men away from their wives, and a lot of subsidised booze.

"Often women are in much more junior positions and some men don't even think what they're doing is bad. They see it as a 'perk of the job'.

"Once they reach a certain level of power and what comes with that is a little bit of naughty behaviour. They almost think it's OK."

Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott says male MPs used to oggle women when they got up to speak. Credit: PA

Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott, who has worked in Westminster for 30 years, said there has "long been a toxic atmosphere around sexual harassment".

She told Good Morning Britain: "When I was a new MP before Parliament was televised, women would get up to speak and male MPs would make these gestures like they were weighing their breasts.

"At that time there were 650 MPs, only 20-odd women. A lot of these men had been to all-boys boarding schools and had really unreconstructed ideas about women.

"Drink is taken. There are eight bars in the House of Commons.

"We work long hours and in the Eighties we were sometimes there until midnight, and the bars are open as long as we are there.

"There is this sense, certainly when I became an MP, that what goes on in Parliament stays in Parliament. That's what feeds this sense of entitlement."

Mark Garnier and Stephen Crabb have been accused of sexual harassment. Credit: PA

Prime Minister Theresa May has vowed to overhaul disciplinary procedures in Parliament after it emerged there is virtually no HR system in place.

She has ordered an inquiry into claims International Trade Minister Mark Garnier asked his secretary to buy him sex toys.

Mrs May is also facing calls to suspend a second senior Conservative, former Cabinet minister Stephen Crabb, over reports he sent explicit messages to a 19-year-old woman he interviewed for a job.

She called the allegations "deeply concerning"and warned anyone found to have behaved inappropriately would face "serious action".