Labour steps up investigation into suspended MP Ivan Lewis after allegations of sexual misconduct

LABOUR has stepped up its investigation into the suspended MP Ivan Lewis after allegations of sexual misconduct.

The party said the inquiry was now being dealt with by its national constitutional committee – which has the power to expel him if found guilty.

The Bury North MP has says he "strongly disputes" the allegations which were made last November.

He is one of a number of MPs who were accused of sexually inappropriate behaviour as part of the Westminster sleaze scandal.

The decision to escalate Mr Lewis’ case by Labour comes as it was expected the party would announce its decision on whether to refer allegations against a veteran MP to its ruling body.

The party missed a self-imposed December 13 deadline to decide whether complaints by activist Ava Etemadzadeh about Kelvin Hopkins would be taken to a full hearing of the party's National Constitutional Committee.

But the case against Mr Lewis, who has been an MP for 20 years and was a minister in Tony Blair and Gordon Brown's governments, has been moved on.

In a statement the Labour Party said: "After consideration of statements provided by the complainant and the respondent, the NEC's sexual harassment panel has agreed that on the balance of the evidence the matter should be referred to a full hearing of the national constitutional committee (NCC).

"The Labour Party will not be commenting further on this case until the conclusion of that hearing."

Regarding Mr Hopkins, he is accused of acted inappropriately towards Ms Etemadzadeh, 27, and sending her suggestive text messages after they met at a student event in 2014 – something which he categorically denies.

Mr Hopkins was reprimanded after she initially complained in 2015, but was later promoted by Jeremy Corbyn to his shadow cabinet.

He is now suspended from the party pending investigation of Ms Etemadzadeh's complaint and separate allegations by fellow MP Kerry McCarthy of unwanted attention over a number of years.

Yesterday Labour revealed it has appointed the charity Rape Crisis to offer confidential advice and support to anyone affected by sexual harassment in the party.

It comes as suspended Tory MP Charlie Elphicke has revealed 10 weeks on from having the whip withdrawn he is still unaware of the allegations against him.

The Dover MP said: "My lawyers have been making enquiries of the police on a regular basis.

“No one in the country should have allegations made against them and not be told what they are for two months. It is unfair for anyone to be in this position."” target=”_blank” title=”Click to share on Twitter

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