Theresa May moves to smash ’Pestminster’ culture with new rules which let her sack pervy ministers for as little as leering over staff

SLEAZY ministers will be sacked at the first hint of inappropriate behaviour in a crackdown on Westminster sex pests.

Theresa May flagged up the zero ­tolerance policy in a strict new ­Ministerial Code unveiled yesterday.

She said: “Everybody working at Westminster should be able to do so free from the threat of harassment.”

It comes after The Sun’s revelation that female Westminster staff were being plagued by gropers sparked a string of allegations that led to the sacking of Cabinet ministers Sir Michael Fallon and Damian Green.

Her zero tolerance edict on sex pests came as she launched a Ministerial Code that beefs up the rules of conduct.

And for the first time it spells out that any type of sexual harassment, bullying or inappropriate behaviour will not be tolerated.

The PM said she was “absolutely clear everybody working at Westminster should be able to do so free from the threat of harassment.”

Her spokesman added: “People must also feel confident to come forward and know that their complaint will be properly dealt with.”

The new code, published by Downing Street, spells out: “Working relationships, including with civil servants, ministerial and parliamentary colleagues and parliamentary staff should be proper and appropriate.”

It adds: “Harassing, bullying or other inappropriate or discriminating behaviour wherever it takes place will not be tolerated.”

Previously the rule book had simply stated: “Ministers of the Crown are expected to behave in a principled way that upholds the highest standards of propriety.”

The clampdown comes in the wake of The Sun’s revelation that women staff in Parliament were sharing horror stories on Whatsapp of groping by bosses and sexual harassment.

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon was subsequently sacked over claims of improper advances.

And Deputy PM Damian Green was axed in a row over pornography on his office computer.

Other Tories accused of sleazy behaviour included Mark Garnier, Charlie Elphicke, Chris Pincher and Stephen Crabb.

The new code comes as a BBC Radio 5 live survey discovered four women who claim they were sexually assaulted while working in Parliament.

And 18 women and one man told the anonymous poll they had been sexually harassed while at Westminster.

The new code also spells out that ministers must disclose any meetings or social gatherings in which they find themselves discussing government business.

It comes after Priti Patel had to quit as International Development Secretary when it was revealed she met Israeli government officials while on holiday there.

And it adds: “Harassing, bullying or other inappropriate or discriminating behaviour wherever it takes place is not consistent with the Ministerial Code and will not be tolerated.”

More on the scandal

And 18 women and one man told the anonymous poll they had suffered sexual harassment in Westminster.

Three women, all in their 20s, and one woman in her 50s said they had been victims of sexual assault but had never reported it.

One claimed she had been assaulted by a former member of parliament, one by a visitor to an MP and another by an employee of the House of Commons.

All four of the women said they had experienced unwanted touching and three had also experienced unwanted groping.

One said: “The nature of Parliament means if one complains about their MP’s behaviour your job is gone.”

Previously the rule book had simply stated: “Ministers of the Crown are expected to maintain high standards of behaviour and to behave in a way that upholds the highest standards of propriety.”

The clampdown comes following last year’s sackings of Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon and deputy PM Damian Green over sleaze scandals.

Labour MPs Kelvin Hopkins and Ivan Lewis remain suspended under investigation, along with Tory MP Charlie Elphicke.

Mrs May told her first post-reshuffle Cabinet meeting that all ministers were expected to read the code — and confirm that both they and their teams had read it.

But civil servant union the FDA said the revised code did not do enough.

General Secretary Naomi Cooke said: “This behind-closed-doors tinkering will do nothing to reassure civil servants that there’s a system in place to protect them from harassment and bullying.

“The code talks tough but includes no detail on who will investigate or how any sanctions will be enforced.”

The first Ministerial Code was introduced by PM John Major in 1992. It has been revised since — usually in response to a scandal.

DEFENCE Secretary Fallon was accused of pestering female journalists.

After The Sun revealed he had “repeatedly” grabbed a woman’s leg, others came forward to complain.

DEPUTY PM Green was named in a leaked dossier of sleazy MPs.

He was then found to have lied about porn found by police on his office computer, prompting his Cabinet resignation last month.

TRADE minister Garnier was accused of making a former aide buy sex toys and calling her “sugar tits.”

An investigation cleared him — but Theresa May sacked him in the Cabinet reshuffle.

EX-TORY leadership contender Crabb left the Cabinet in June 2016 after sexting a young woman.

When others came forward in November he was formally reprimanded by Tory party chiefs.

WHIP Pincher stood down after claims he propositioned a young activist while wearing a bathrobe.

He was cleared and Theresa May promoted him to Deputy Chief Whip.

PESTMINSTER TIMELINE

27 October: Sun ignites Westminster sleaze scandal by revealing female staff are sharing horror stories about pervy MPs on Whatsapp.

28 October: Theresa May urges anyone abused by her own MPs go to the police.

31 October: Sun reveals Sir Michael Fallon “repeatedly” grabbed female journalists leg. Tory activist Kate Maltby comes forward to accuse Damian Green of bad behaviour.

1 November: Fallon resigns.

2 November: Pals of Damian Green claim Ms Maltby may have mistaken his hand for a “flapping tablecloth.”

3 November: Sun reveals Cabinet colleague Andrea Leadsom told PM Fallon had been inappropriate to her.

4 November: Charlie Elphicke suspended and reported to police.

5 November: Emerges porn was found on Damian Green’s laptop during botched police raid on his office – he says claims were “completely untrue.” Chris Pincher resigns as Tory Whip after allegations.

6 November: Theresa May hosts cross party crisis talks about sex scandal and urges rules shakeup.

21 December: Green sacked after found to have lied about porno.

23 December: Pincher cleared.

9 January: Theresa May reads riot act to ministers over sexual harassment and publishes new strict rules for Ministers.

 

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