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Labour MSP reveals she was assaulted at a party

A Labour MSP has today revealed she was sexually assaulted by a senior male colleague at a party.

As a sexual harassment scandal engulfs politics, Monica Lennon said she was groped at a social event four years ago in front of a room full of people.

Ms Lennon, 36, is the most senior UK politician to claim she has been a victim of a sexual assault since the scandal began to emerge in the last fortnight.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will address the growing scandal later and warn ‘warped’ Westminster must be reformed. 

Monica Lennon

She told Sunday Mail: ‘It happened at a Labour Party social event in 2013, before I was an MSP. It was a private function, a room full of people.

‘A man, who was a senior figure in the party, touched me in a manner that some would say is ‘handsy’. He was sitting next to me when he groped me, in full view of other people.

‘I don’t want to go into the full details but he touched my body, in an intimate way, without invitation or permission. This shouldn’t happen to anyone.

‘It’s possible at least half a dozen people saw exactly what happened.

‘One man, who at the time was a Labour politician, joked to everyone in earshot, ‘That’s your fault for coming over here and getting him all excited’.

‘A few days later I ran into another man who had seen what happened and he made a jokey reference to it.

‘The underlying message was clear, the whole thing was to be treated as a joke.’

Labour MSP reveals she was assaulted at a party

Ms Lennon has become the third member of Labour to claim a lack of help, following Bex Bailey and Ava Etemadzadeh last week.

She also said that having made an initial complaint to the Scottish Labour Party, she decided not to progress with it because she felt she would not be believed.

Ms Lennon was a South Lanarkshire councillor when the alleged incident happened.

She was elected to Holyrood in 2016 and is now the party’s spokeswoman on inequalities.

Ms Lennon told the newspaper she chose to speak out to highlight that sexism is rife in politics, not just at Westminster and Holyrood.

At a speech later, Mr Corbyn will say: ‘Labour is committed not just to challenging a warped and degrading culture in Westminster, and across society, but to overturning it.

‘This week we appointed a leading barrister to investigate if and how the party got it so painfully wrong in the case of Bex Bailey. We are not afraid to turn the spotlight on ourselves.

‘And we are now appointing an independent organisation to offer confidential advice and support to anyone affected by sexual harassment in our party, an additional first step for reporting complaints and to guide and support complainants through our procedures.’