I will post my thoughts tomorrow, but before I did that I wanted to see and hear what other people think. I am not asking whether you believe there was a case of sexual harassment or not, but how would you now handle the fall out, and how would you move the party forward and with unity.
The situation is that Lord Rennard, a key member of the Liberal Party, was accused by 4 women members of the Liberal Party of sexual harassment. Lord Rennards membership was suspended whilst an investigation was carried out. The investigation found that, although the claims were credible, it would be impossible to prove them in court and that no further action should be taken.
There person carrying out the investigation said that Lord Rennard should at least apologise to the women, which is what they were looking for from him.
This was the peers response to that:
The peer regretted “any hurt, embarrassment or upset” he had inadvertently caused anyone. But he said: “I will not offer an apology to the four complainants. I do not believe people should be forced to say what they know they should not say, or do not mean.”
He accused the Liberal Democrat leadership of treating him unfairly and said the party should have let the matter rest when an internal investigation by Alistair Webster QC concluded “no further action” was necessary. Full article
The complication here is that:
Whilst this cannot be proven in court, i.e. he wouldn’t have been found guilty beyond reasonable doubt, if this had been in a company I am pretty sure that HR would have come out in favour of the women, and that Lord Rennards position would be untenable.
However, the finding was ‘no further action should be taken‘ and because of this outcome Lord Rennard has been reinstated, which is an extremely unsatisfactory to the ladies involved.
This is now causing a major rift within the Liberal Party, of which only 11% are female, and many have either resigned or are threatening to resign and Nick Cleggs leadership is being called into question ahead of next years General Election.
So the question is what would you do?
The claim has been made,
the investigation has come back with no further action to be taken,
the claimants are now unhappy with the outcome and for more action and are looking to leave party if they don’t get it,
the parties internal policies seem inadequate to handle this situation,
the defendant refuses to offer a full apology, i.e. plead guilty to something he doesn’t believe he did, nor could it be proven that he did it.
There are many supporters, male and female, on both sides, and this issue has the potential to significantly weaken the parties already declining position, before next years election?
I am not asking whether you believe the claims are true or not, but what would you do to repair your leadership and try and heal this rift which threatens to tear the party apart?
I think it is a very interesting dilemma.
If you side with the peer you will alienate the women within the party, if you side with the peer you could find yourself facing legal actions as your own parties ruling was no further action need.
Let me know your thoughts I would be very interested to hear them.