Portrait of the week

Rumours of sexual misconduct swirl around Westminster

4 November 2017

9:00 AM

4 November 2017

9:00 AM


A great ferment of accusations of sexual impropriety was made against people in Parliament and out of it. Bex Bailey, a Labour party worker, said she was raped, not by an MP, at a party event in 2011 and a senior Labour official discouraged her from reporting it. Jared O’Mara MP had the Labour whip withdrawn while claims were investigated that he had called a woman he met ‘an ugly bitch’. Tulip Siddiq, a Labour MP, said that cases of sexual misconduct cases at Westminster could run into hundreds. Sir Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary, was even driven to apologise publicly for putting his hand on the knee of Julia Hartley-Brewer during dinner 15 years ago, although she said that she had not been ‘remotely upset or distressed’. Anthony Rapp, an actor, said that in 1986, when he was 14, the actor Kevin Spacey (then 26) had, after a party, lifted him on to a bed and climbed on top of him, Mr Spacey said: ‘I honestly do not remember the encounter … But if I did behave then as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology.’ Netflix halted production of the House of Cards series in which he starred. Tariq Ramadan, Professor of Contemporary Islamic studies at St Antony’s College, Oxford, denied accusations by two women that he had raped them in France in 2009 and 2012. A dolphin, or perhaps a harbour porpoise, was filmed in the Thames at Putney Bridge.

The Bank of England said 75,000 jobs could be lost in financial services following Brexit. The EU’s European Investment Bank said it would not fully repay UK holdings after Brexit until 2054. The government proposed giving people in serious debt six weeks’ breathing space from further interest charges. Derek ‘Red Robbo’ Robinson, the Communist shop stewards’ convener at British Leyland’s Longbridge works in the 1970s, died aged 90. Patricia Llewellyn, who turned The Spectator’s cook Jennifer Paterson, into one half of the Two Fat Ladies, died of breast cancer aged 55.

The Royal Navy dismissed nine sailors serving in the nuclear-armed submarine HMS Vigilant after they tested positive for using cocaine. Richard Kemp, the Liberal Democrat leader in Liverpool, called for Coca-Cola lorries decorated for Christmas to be banned from the city because, he said, ‘30 per cent of our 11-year-olds are obese’. People aged 16-24 were found to be spending only 3.8 hours a day on their phones, compared to 3.9 hours last year.


Carles Puigdemont, the president of the Catalan parliament, with five of his ministers, fled to Brussels. The Spanish state prosecutor had said that he faced charges of rebellion and sedition relating to the Catalan declaration of independence. The Spanish Senate had voted to invoke article 155 of the constitution, suspending Catalonia’s autonomy and allowing the Spanish government to dismiss the government of Catalonia, dissolve its parliament and call regional elections for 21 December, the results of which Mr Puigdemont said he would accept. The Guardia Civil, the Spanish paramilitary police, raided the offices of the Catalan Mossos d’Esquadra police. Hundreds of thousands demonstrated peacefully in Barcelona in favour of a united Spain. The economy of the eurozone grew by 0.6 per cent in the three months to September, making its growth in the past 12 months 2.5 per cent.

In Manhattan, eight people were killed when a pick-up truck ran down pedestrians and cyclists on a cycle path; police shot and arrested a man from Uzbekistan who had been living in America since 2010. George Papadopoulos, an adviser to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, pleaded guilty to making false statements to FBI officers investigating Russian interference in the American presidential election in 2016. US prosecutors brought charges of money laundering and tax evasion against Paul Manafort, Mr Trump’s former campaign chairman. Fats Domino, the rock and roll performer, died aged 89.

For the first time in more than a year, food aid reached 40,000 starving civilians trapped in eastern Ghouta, a besieged rebel-held area outside Damascus. In Mogadishu, two bombs went off and armed men stormed a hotel, leaving at least 20 people dead in an attack claimed by al-Shabab. President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya won 98 per cent of the vote in a rerun of the election in August annulled by the Supreme Court; this time the opposition boycotted the election and the turnout was only 39 per cent. The Hong Kong Stock Exchange closed its trading floor and moved to electronic trading.

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