United Kingdom

Jeremy Corbyn aide 'warned Tory MP not to help parliamentary worker after sex assault claim'

A Tory MP was warned not to help a parliamentary worker after she made sexual assault allegations against a Labour politician, a tribunal heard today.

Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen claims the woman confided in him about allegations she was being sexually harassed by Labour's Mike Hill.

But Mr Bridgen claims Labour MP Kate Hollern warned him not to get involved. 

At the time Ms Hollern was Parliamentary Private Secretary to Jeremy Corbyn - then leader of the Labour party.

Today, speaking at the tribunal, Mr Bridgen accused Ms Hollern of 'intimidation' and labelled her actions 'appalling'. 

Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen (pictured) claims the woman confided in him about allegations she was being sexually harassed by Labour member Mike Hill

The alleged victim, a former Westminster employee, claimed then-Hartlepool MP Mr Hill sexually harassed and assaulted her over a 16-month period.

The woman, known only as Ms A, alleged the Labour politician harassed her and tried to start a sexual relationship, despite her rebuffing his advances.

She alleges the MP rubbed a part of his body against her at his flat in London and again at his office in Westminster.

The woman also claims Mr Hill groped her breasts and touched her bottom, a hearing at the Central London Employment Tribunal was told.

He is also said to have texted the woman in the early hours of one morning, saying he wanted to be with her, that he 'loved her' and even wanted to marry her, she claimed.

Mr Hill later text her that he 'craved her body', a witness statement submitted to the tribunal said.

Mr Bridgen claims Kate Hollern MP (pictured) tried to stop him from helping the alleged victim. At the time Ms Hollern was Parliamentary Private Secretary to Corbyn when he was leader of the party

She said Mr Hill made her feel 'scared, extremely confused, violated and powerless' and that she felt Mr Hill had a 'Jekyll and Hyde' personality.

The woman claims when she told Mr Bridgen about her allegations, Ms Hollern, who she also confided in, tried to stop him from helping.

In her witness statement Ms A said: 'Andrew Bridgen called me to tell me that Kate Hollern had approached him in parliament and pulled him to one side.

'Mr Bridgen told me Ms Hollern tried to warn him off from helping me by using scare tactics.

'Ms Hollern said that many in the Labour Party were of the opinion that Mr Bridgen and I were having an affair and she advised him to keep away from me as it would be a shame if it got out in the papers as he had a lovely wife and new baby - Mr Bridgen told her she was talking nonsense and to go away.'

During a virtual hearing today, Mr Bridgen said he had been made aware of the allegations but claimed he was told not to get involved.

He told the tribunal judges: 'She [Ms A] confided in me that she was being sexually harassed and assaulted by Mr Hill. I was particularly upset about it at the time.

'She didn't want me to take any action on her behalf.

'I watched her mental health and wellbeing disintegrate. For Kate Hollern to come and try and intimidate me, I totally believe it was to isolate Ms A from any help and support.

'I felt that was pretty appalling, I felt it was malicious and I don't respond well to intimidation like that I can assure you.'

Ms A also said Ms Hollern spoke to her after seeing her crying and told her many women in parliament had made sexual harassment claims but nothing was done about it.

The woman said: 'Ms Hollern advised me...in terms of the sexual harassment she said that many people in parliament had put in complaints in the past of sexual harassment and nothing was ever done about it, which deterred me from seeking any further advice on this at that time.'

Mr Hill was suspended from the Labour Party in September 2019 over the allegations, but was reinstated in October of that year to fight the general election in December.

Mr Hill (pictured) was suspended from the Labour Party in September 2019 over the allegations, but was reinstated in October of that year to fight the general election in December. But his later resignation as Hartlepool MP in March of this year triggered last week's by-election

But his later resignation as Hartlepool MP in March of this year triggered last week's by-election.

The election saw the former red wall seat taken by the Conservatives for the first since its creation in 1974.

During the tribunal, Ms A claimed the first two incidents of sexual assault took place a month apart in Mr Hill's flat, then a third incident happened a month later at his office.

She said: 'He was behind me and rubbing himself against my bottom and he had his arms wrapped around me and was feeling my breasts.

'I was crying and shaking because of this experience. I was distressed and confused and felt physically sick.

'He never acknowledged his unwanted sexual conduct. Nor did he attempt to apologise for his behaviour. I confronted Mr Hill...and he still did not apologise.

'Mr Hill's unwanted sexual conduct was very traumatic and left me feeling extremely vulnerable. His behaviour affected my sleep patterns thereafter...I suffered a panic attack.'

He also brushed his hands against her breasts and said 'I just want a cuddle love', the woman alleged. She also said he touched her bottom.

Ms A added: 'He one told me that I 'must be frigid or something'...and that there must be 'something wrong' with me.

'I felt scared, extremely confused, violated and powerless and that the situation he put me in kept me paralysed and fearful like a caged animal.'

The woman also claims she was harassed after these alleged incidents and said she was 'gaslighted' by the MP, who denies all the allegations of sexual misconduct.

She said she told Mr Bridgen: 'Mr Hill was sexually harassing me and because I would not have sex with him Mr Hill was making my life hell.'

Tom Perry, counsel representing Mr Hill, put it to the woman that these alleged incidents had not taken place and asked her if she was making the claims out of spite.

During the tribunal, Ms A, a Parliamentary worker, claimed the first two incidents of sexual assault took place a month apart in Mr Hill's flat, then a third incident happened a month later at his office. Pictured: Westminster Palace

She replied: 'If I had wanted to I could have absolutely ruined Mr Hill's career, but I never did that despite everything Mr Hill put me through.

'I was giving him an opportunity to stop the sexual harassment. The sexual relationship he wanted wasn't going to happen.'

When asked why she did not report the full number of incidents she alleged took place at the first opportunity, the woman tearfully replied: 'I had tried to block all that out. I just tried to push it to one side. 

'I felt ashamed and embarrassed. But it wasn't my shame to carry.'

Ms A reported the incidents to police in June 2019, but said she did not proceed with the complaint because officers would have to take her phone and laptop for six months.

She said in court documents that she suffered from PTSD and chronic depressive disorder after an incident at a previous job, which made her vulnerable to the MP's alleged advances.

The woman also detailed the extent of the trauma she allegedly suffered.

In the statement she said: 'I have been receiving specialist therapy and I have learned that other sufferers of coercive/narcissistic abuse did what I did which was for a time at least, to try and keep the abuser 'on side'.

'I continue to rely on psychiatric medications to support me to manage those symptoms. At times the depression is so intense all I can think about is ending my life.

'Not a day goes by when what was done to me does not interfere with my life or limit the life I lead in some way.

'Sexual assault has cost me profoundly in many ways and has set my life on a completely different course from the on I would have taken, had I not been assaulted.

'I have lost so much and many of those losses cut right to the core of who I am and can never be undone.'

The hearing continues and is due to last eight days.

Football news:

Scotland coach Clarke: There were a lot of good moments during the group stage, but no points scored
England are the most boring group winners in history. Two goals were enough! And at the World Cup, the Italians once became the first even with one
Dalic - to the fans after reaching the Euro playoffs: You are our strength, and we will be your pride
Modric became the youngest and oldest goalscorer in Croatia at the Euro
Czech Republic coach Shilgava: We came out of the group and fought with England for the first place. We got what we wanted
Gareth Southgate: England wanted to win the group and continue to play at Wembley-and it succeeded
Luka Modric: When Croatia plays like this, we are dangerous for everyone