A Labour activist has claimed she was raped at a party event and then advised by a senior official not to report the attack because it could “damage” her career.
Bex Bailey, 25, has alleged she was attacked by a senior party figure, who was not an MP, at an event in 2011 when she was 19-years-old.
She said she approached someone at the Labour Party headquarters to ask about reporting the attack but was discouraged from going to the police.
Labour said it would launch an independent investigation into the claims.
Bax: Miss Bailey, pictured on her Twitter (L), is a prominent campaigner and Labour supporter
Ms Bailey decided to speak out about the event to BBC Radio 4, waiving her automatic right to anonymity granted to victims or alleged victims of sexual offences.
She told Carolyn Quinn she was doing so in order to urge senior politicians to make it easier for people to report in-party harassment or assaults.
Her interview comes in the wake of scores of accusations against politicians and party member subjecting staff members to sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour.
Parliament and the Prime Minister have been under intense pressure to clamp down on such behaviour.
Bercow says there’s a ‘need for change’ amid Westminster harassment rumours
Ms Bailey believes there should be an independent and unbiased body that could deal with such allegations without the influence of political loyalty.
The former member of Labour’s National Executive Committee told the programme that after the alleged attack she “tried to pretend it hadn’t happened” and did not report it to the police.
“I was scared, I felt ashamed, I know that the Labour Party, like any family, loves a good gossip – and I didn’t want people to know and I also was worried that I wouldn’t be believed if I did,” she said.
Two years later she approached a party official and spoke to them about what had happened.
“It took me a while to sum up the courage to tell anyone in the party,” she said.
“But when I did, I told a senior member of staff, who told me… or it was suggested to me that I not report it, I was told that if I did it might damage me – and that might be their genuine view, it might be that that was the case in which case that shows that we have a serious problem in politics with this issue anyway.”
Ms Bailey said she was “not signposted to anyone” that could give her good advice about the incident and said there was no apparent procedure in place to report it.
“I don’t think I was even given a cup of tea at the time,” she said. “It was quite a horrible experience and this is why I’ve been fighting so hard for changes to the way that we do this.”
Andrea Leadsom gives a statement in the Commons (PA)
She now believes an independent agency, such as a charity, was needed to avoid conflicts of interest in the party.
“The current procedure relies on you having to tell a member of staff actually, in the first instance,” she said. “That relies on staff members who perhaps … are inclined to be loyal to the Labour Party and put that first instead of the individuals coming forward.
“And it can be really difficult to report these issues to a staff member who might be friends with the person that you’re accusing, who might be political allies with them, or have some incentive to protect them and to protect the Labour Party that we all love.
“That makes it really hard to report these difficult issues, so that’s why we need the independent agency that you can report to in the first instance, so that you have confidence that this’ll be dealt with fairly and that you won’t be penalised or come off worse as a result.”
On Monday, Labour sent a letter to all party members outlining a set of new procedures to crack-down on sexual harassment and to make it easier to report such incidents.
A Labour spokesperson said: “The Labour Party takes these allegations extremely seriously. It takes great courage for victims of rape to come forward – and all support must and will be made available to them.
“We would strongly recommend that the police investigate the allegations of criminal actions that Bex Bailey has made.
“Labour will also launch an independent investigation into claims that a party employee acted improperly over these 2011 allegations.”