Male MPs 'need to be called out and punished' for inappropriate sexual behaviour

Credit: PA

Sleazy men have been told they should always act as though their daughter is in the room in order to avoid treating women inappropriately, amid reports that 56 MPs are facing allegations of sexual misconduct.

Cabinet minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan told ITV News she's had "sadly too many experiences where men have crossed the line", after revealing in an earlier interview that a male former MP had once pinned her against a wall.

The international trade secretary told LBC Radio: "A number of years ago being pinned up against a wall by a male MP who is now no longer in the House, I'm pleased to say, declaring that I must want him because he was a powerful man.

"These sorts of things, these power abuses, that a very small minority, thank goodness, of male colleagues show is completely unacceptable".

Ms Trevelyan told ITV News "there is no place, in any work environment, particularly in Parliament, where men can think that it's okay to use their power to ask of inappropriate behaviours... it's just not okay".

"These men need to be called out, they need to be punished and it needs to become absolutely abundantly clear, as most men would know, that it's never okay to behave inappropriately in the work place or anywhere else."

She added: "If your daughter was standing next to you, would you behave like that? Clearly the answer would be no, so don't do it."

Anne-Marie Trevelyan tells ITV News of her experiences of inappropriate behaviour

Does Parliament have a problem with sexism and inappropriate behaviour?

Furious female MPs earlier this week told the Conservative chief whip they witnessed a senior male colleague viewing pornography in the House of Commons chamber - allegations which have shone a light on sexist culture in Parliament.

Chief Whip Chris Heaton-Harris is investigating the porn allegations and wants them referring to Parliament's Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS) which investigates allegations of harassment and sexual misconduct.

The disciplinary process could lead to a recommendation that the MP is suspended or forced out of the Commons if a complaint is upheld.

His investigation will establish whether the Tory actually viewed pornography during a Commons debate, and if so, why - the government says the whip should be removed if allegations are proved.

Critics of the Tories are questioning why an investigation is required, given the chief whip is understood to already know the identity of the MP in question.

Ms Trevelyan told ITV News "watching porn in your workplace is just not acceptable", adding: "I have no doubt that the chief whip will be dealing with it as we would hope".

Watching porn at work is not acceptable, says female minister

The claims about pornography followed reports that 56 MPs, including three Cabinet ministers, are facing allegations of sexual misconduct referred to the ICGS.

They also follow outrage over The Mail On Sunday publishing "sexist" and disputed claims from unnamed Tory MPs that deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner tried to distract Mr Johnson with her legs during Prime Minister's Questions.

Ms Trevelyan said she raised complaints years ago with party whips about inappropriate behaviour displayed by male MPs but never heard back.

She said systems in place now are much better and she urged any victims to report the perpetrators to relevant authorities.

Former Tory minister Caroline Nokes told ITV News the problem isn't just in politics but in wider society, revealing that women have contacted her since the porn revelation to say they've spotted men viewing similar content while travelling on the train.

She said public sexual harassment should be made a specific crime.

What could happen if the porn allegations are proved?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson described the porn-watching allegations as "totally unacceptable".

During a visit to Burnley, Mr Johnson told broadcasters: "What needs to happen now is that the proper procedures need to be gone through, the independent complaints and grievances procedure needs to be activated and we need to get to understand the facts but, yeah, that kind of behaviour is clearly totally unacceptable."

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Chief whip Mr Heaton-Harris said he will take "appropriate action" against the MP" after the conclusion of the ICGS investigation.

Under the ICGS, an investigator would examine the case and Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Kathryn Stone would then make a finding.

In a serious case like this a sanction would normally be decided by the Independent Expert Panel (IEP), which would also hear any appeal.

The IEP could recommend sanctions including expulsion from the Commons or a suspension - which could potentially trigger a by-election under the recall process if it is for longer than 10 sitting days.