- Video report by ITV News Correspondent Rachel Younger
A women’s rights campaigner who accused a senior member of the House of Lords of sexual harassment has spoken to ITV News about her ordeal.
Jasvinder Sanghera, who waived her right to anonymity, admitted it has been a difficult process.
“I have to say as someone who campaigns for victims and survivors, I wouldn’t want any victim to put themselves through what I’ve been through,” she told ITV News Correspondent Rachel Younger.
“I can’t sit here with confidence and say, “if you’re going through this then report to the House of Lords”, I cannot give victims that confidence.”
Lord Lester of Herne Hill strongly denies the allegations.
The 82-year-old was facing the longest suspension in modern parliamentary history until June 2022 after an inquiry found he groped Sanghera and promised her a peerage for sex.
But, yesterday, the House of Lords backed a call to send the case back to the Lords’ Committee for Privileges and Conduct, amid claims the investigation was “manifestly unfair”.
A lengthy and impassioned debate saw members agree by 101 votes to 78, majority 23, that the Commissioner for Standards Lucy Scott-Moncrieff had failed to comply with the code of conduct, which required her to act “in accordance with the principles of natural justice and fairness”.
Ms Sanghera told ITV News about the horror of watching the suspension being blocked.
“I watched the debate and I felt like I was being re-victimised all over again. In front of me what was unfolding was this sheer unbalance of power which I always feared.
“Yes, I’d been vindicated through that process, but it was just coming away in front of me as they stood in that room yesterday.
“His friends, the majority, and undermined the report, undermined me. There were two people in that room yesterday - I wasn’t there. It was his reputation and voting on that sanction.”
Ms Sanghera had been working with Lord Lester on the passage of a parliamentary bill when the alleged incident occurred in 2006.
She eventually lodged a complaint in November 2017 and the 53-year-old believes the gap in time and her position as a campaigner against forced marriage led to greater scrutiny.
“Here I was this strong woman and in fact in the debate of the House of Lords they used that against me… if it could happen to me – then what does it say about the little person?
“I was paralysed initially so I had to speak out. In that position you have a responsibility, that’s how I felt. And I also fundamentally believe that this is happening to other people in the House of Lords.”