LONDON — The U.K. Labour Party suspended MP Geraint Davies, after POLITICO reported on multiple accusations of inappropriate behavior toward junior female colleagues over a long career in British politics.
Five women said that Geraint Davies, a former House of Commons select committee chair who was first elected in 1997, subjected them to unwanted sexual attention, both physical and verbal, after coming into contact with them through his work as an MP.
Many of the alleged incidents took place on the parliamentary estate, sometimes in bars or after late-night votes. One of the women he allegedly targeted was just 19 years old at the time.
In a statement Thursday morning, a Labour Party spokesperson said Davies has been administratively suspended from the party pending an investigation and has had the Labour whip in the House of Commons suspended.
“These are incredibly serious allegations of completely unacceptable behaviour. We strongly encourage anyone with a complaint to come forward to the Labour party’s investigation,” a Labour Party spokesperson said.
Davies, 63, said that he did not “recognize” the allegations, adding: “If I have inadvertently caused offence to anyone, then I am naturally sorry.”
POLITICO spoke to more than 20 people who worked with Davies in parliament, including serving MPs and current and former members of Labour Party staff. They described a pattern of excessive drinking, sexual comments and unwanted touching by Davies stretching back at least five years, directed exclusively at younger women in the workplace.
Davies’ alleged behavior appears to have been an open secret in certain parts of the Labour Party, but no action was taken in the absence of a formal complaint. Such situations underline the difficulty of rooting out harassment claims in parliament.
In one instance, a former Labour Party staffer alleged that Davies, then 58, approached her while she was extremely intoxicated in a parliamentary bar. He proceeded to buy her another alcoholic drink and suggested they could go back to his nearby flat, she claimed. She was 22 years old at the time.
Davies took her number, saying he wanted to discuss parliamentary business, and subsequently sent her a string of sexually suggestive messages, alluding to masturbation on the parliamentary premises.
The former researcher initially responded to his messages in amusement, but later became uncomfortable and asked him to stop.
‘Uncomfortable and under pressure’
Separately, a Labour Party activist alleged Davies had attempted to cultivate a relationship with her when she was 19 years old, after meeting her at a conference. She claimed that he repeatedly singled her out for private chats and approached her outside work hours, before inviting her to his hotel room.
She declined the invitation, but said it made her feel “uncomfortable and under pressure.”
In further separate incidents, Davies allegedly touched two younger female MPs without their consent.
One MP alleged that Davies pressed his leg against hers during a meeting in a way which made her feel “deeply uncomfortable.” Afterwards, he continued to try to engage her in conversation and would wink at her in the House of Commons chamber, she claimed.
She discussed his behavior with Labour whips, but did not raise a formal complaint because she said she did not believe it would result in any effective action.
Another female MP claimed he came up behind her during a late-night vote in parliament, put his hand on her waist from behind and said: “Glad we can go home now.”
She did not tell party bosses at the time, also not believing it would result in any meaningful consequences, but did subsequently raise his behavior with the whips. Both MPs were relatively new to parliament and significantly younger than Davies.
A fifth woman, a former parliamentary official, claimed that he repeatedly commented on her appearance, and made remarks such as “you smell nice” and “you’re my favorite person to sit next to.”
The woman eventually left her job, blaming the lack of support offered to parliamentary staff who have been made to feel uncomfortable at work by MPs.
POLITICO has taken multiple steps to verify each of these accusations, including gathering written statements from witnesses and contemporaneous correspondence.
Parliament’s code of conduct specifies that uncalled-for touching, sexual remarks about appearance, and the repeated propositioning of someone, all fall within the definition of sexual misconduct.
One Labour MP who has not been propositioned directly by Davies, but who has worked extensively with him, said: “He genuinely makes me feel uncomfortable. He gets in your personal space — it’s distasteful. You can see that other women feel uncomfortable around him.”
Davies said in a statement: “I don’t recognize the allegations suggested and do not know who has made them. None of them, as far as I know, has been lodged as complaints with the Labour Party or parliament.
“If I have inadvertently caused offence to anyone, then I am naturally sorry as it is important that we share an environment of mutual and equal respect for all.”
The Labour Party whips have been aware of concerns about Davies’ conduct for several years, according to MPs. Text messages seen by POLITICO confirm a conversation between the whips and one of the MPs he is alleged to have touched inappropriately.
A Labour Party spokesperson said: “The Labour Party treats complaints of sexual harassment and abuse with the utmost seriousness and takes action in response to every complaint.
“We would strongly urge anyone with a complaint to come forward so that allegations can be swiftly and fully investigated and action taken. The party has ensured that there is a wide range of support available to complainants, to provide confidence and confidential guidance.”
The party has not received a formal complaint about Davies’ conduct, according to a person familiar with internal processes who stressed this would be needed for an allegation of sexual misconduct to be independently investigated.
Whips encourage anyone raising informal concerns to make a formal complaint, the same person said.
Pressed by broadcasters on the story Thursday morning, a Labour frontbencher insisted the party and its whips are “very alive” to the issue.
“The key thing is that when something like this happens, a formal complaint must be made,” Shadow Immigration Minister Stephen Kinnock told Times Radio, before Davies’ suspension was announced. “And I do genuinely believe that our whips and our party is very alive to this issue — people get suspended, they lose the whip, investigations take place.”
“I got elected to Parliament in 2015, and we’ve of course, had many, many very troubling stories since then, people in positions of power who abuse that position, and it’s completely and utterly unacceptable when that happens,” he added.
Davies has been a fixture of the parliamentary community for more than 25 years, having represented Croydon Central between 1997 and 2005.
In 2005 he hit the headlines for claiming more on his parliamentary expenses than any other MP, despite representing a constituency only 20 minutes from central London. At the time he said the high cost was because he did “the most work” of any MP. His expense claims apparently included the upkeep of a second home in Westminster, 12 miles from his constituency home.
After losing his seat in 2005, Davies went on to win the safe Labour seat of Swansea West in 2010.
He is a long-standing member of the Commons Welsh affairs and environment select committees, and served as the interim chair of the latter committee after the incumbent, Tory MP Neil Parish, was forced to step down for watching pornography in parliament.
Davies is also a member of the Council of Europe, representing the U.K. on numerous overseas visits.
In 2017, when a string of sexual harassment revelations hit British politics, Davies spoke of the need to tackle “an endemic cultural problem” at Westminster.
Westminster has since been hit by further waves of bullying and harassment scandals, with four MPs forced to stand down since the last general election because of sexual misconduct.
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