Sir Roger Gale fears Westminster ‘witch-hunt’ will deter young people from entering politics
PUBLISHED: 11:15 01 November 2017 | UPDATED: 11:15 01 November 2017
Fellow Kent MPs Damian Green and Sir Michael Fallon have been at the heart of claims of inappropriate behaviour
Sir Roger Gale says he fears a “witch-hunt” against MPs, under fire following widespread allegations of sexual harassment, will deter young people from entering politics.
Westminster has been dominated by talk of scandal this week, with Kent MPs and ministers Damian Green and Sir Michael Fallon both at the heart of claims of inappropriate behaviour.
Sir Michael, who represents Sevenoaks, apologised after it emerged he touched the knee of a female journalist back in 2002, while the prime minister has ordered an investigation into reports her effective deputy, Ashford’s Mr Green, made similar inappropriate advances to a female activist.
Mr Green said any allegation that he made sexual advances to Kate Maltby, described as an old friend, was “untrue (and) deeply hurtful”.
However, Thanet North MP Sir Roger told KentNews.co.uk the row was “heavily over-the-top” and that he feared budding politicans would be put off from embarking upon a career in parliament.
“It’s getting to the stage where you can’t do anything that’s half-normal,” he said.
“There was a time when I was a relatively attractive young man, and I attracted attention with it. I knew perfectly well as a single man I could flirt with a young woman.
“One would find it flattering and fun, another would say they’re not interested. One woman’s pleasure is another’s poison. That’s the nature of the human animal, that’s why we pick mates.
“I have had, in my time, quite a few girlfriends, and then I found my wife who I love to bits. It was a process of selection.
“What worries me most is I look back and think would Roger Gale want to go into parliament as it is now? And I wouldn’t. The media has one hell of a lot to answer for. This is not in the Harvey Weinstein league.”
Labour has launched an independent inquiry into claims that prominent activist Bex Bailey was discouraged by a party official from reporting an alleged rape at a Labour event in 2011 on the grounds it might damage her political career.
And in a separate case, a woman who claims she was sexually assaulted by an MP on a foreign work trip last year has said her allegations were not taken seriously.
Sir Roger added: “If someone has attempted rape the port of call for the person being assaulted is the police, and that is very serious.
“The idea you can say ’10 years ago I met an MP and he had his hand on my knee and I was horrified; so horrified it took me 10 years to say anything’ is rubbish.
“The flood of allegations could mask the serious cases that need investigation and I fear it’s going to deter good, able men and women with talent, drive, commitment and determination from coming into the house.
“I am not saying all MPs are perfect, I’m not, none of us are. If you want nuns and monks elected, then elect nuns and monks. We have to get real and have a sense of proportion.”
Newly-elected Canterbury MP Rosie Duffield admitted there were “lots of rumours” about “sleazy” behaviour in Westminster, though she had not witnessed any specific cases since winning the seat in June.