Exclusive: Labour's new complaints procedure slammed as 'shocking'

Credit: PA

ITV News has been handed a leaked copy of Labour's new complaints procedure for sexual harassment, following the serious allegations of assault which have engulfed Westminster.

In an email sent to Labour MPs on Wednesday, the party's General Secretary Iain McNicol said the National Executive Committee (NEC) had agreed a "code of conduct for sexual harassment and gender discrimination".

Among the new changes, a specialist panel will review complaints and decide whether to discipline anyone.

But its members are elected by the NEC, who appointed the panel at a meeting on Tuesday.

Labour's General Secretary Iain McNicol. Credit: PA

The email promises that specialist training will be provided by an external provider.

But victims of sexual harassment and MPs have raised concerns with ITV News that the process will not be independent.

The MP who leaked the document to ITV News said the new procedure was 'shocking' because the NEC could potentially influence the decision of the panel.

They insisted it should be a third party, perhaps a charity, which deals with complaints rather than a branch of the party itself.

An extract from the leaked document seen by ITV News.
This flow chart shows none of the complaints would be dealt with externally.

One Labour councillor, spoke to ITV News on Monday claiming she was sexually harassed by another member of the party.

She said: "My biggest concern is the lack of impartiality in the process, and the potential for bias in any decision making.

"What I would really like to see is a truly independent reporting process, that provides a process which can be trusted by those reporting such issues."

One source highlighted the case of Bex Bailey, who claimed on Tuesday that she was raped at a Labour event in 2011.

As a member of the NEC, it is not clear how Ms Bailey's case could be independently investigated, given the complaints panel would have in part been elected by her.

A Labour Party spokesperson said: "The Labour Party takes all complaints of sexual harassment, abuse and discrimination extremely seriously and any evidence that is presented to us of such misconduct will always be thoroughly investigated.

"The Party has robust processes in place to deal with complaints and has been working with its affiliates to improve the procedures specifically designed to deal with complaints of sexual harassment and safeguarding issues to make it easier to report complaints."