Britain’s Cabinet Office will investigate whether an international trade minister breached conduct rules by asking his secretary to buy sex toys, as allegations of sexual harassment roil Parliament.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt says Mark Garnier, a Conservative MP and a parliamentary under-secretary in the Department for International Trade, will face an investigation after the minister’s former secretary told the Mail on Sunday that Garnier gave her money to buy two vibrators at a sex shop, and called her a disparaging name in front of witnesses.
Garnier, who admitted to the Mail on Sunday that he had asked his former secretary Caroline Edmondson to buy vibrators for him, called the incident “good-humoured high jinks” and denied it amounted to harassment.
The story follows reports that female staffers working in and around British parliament have created a group in the popular WhatsApp messaging app to warn colleagues about harassment.
It’s all in the wake of allegations of abusive behaviour by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and the #MeToo social media phenomenon, in which women around the world have spoken out about the sexual abuse and harassment they’ve experienced.
Hunt told ITV’s Peston on Sunday, a political discussion program, that people would be angry about the allegations because “this shows that in our own backyard, we don’t live up to the high standards that we would expect others to.”
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