Wed, 12 Jun 2013
Helena Morrissey was asked to lead an independent inquiry into processes and culture within the Liberal Democrats and to outline a blueprint for change.
“I’m very grateful to Helena Morrissey for her very thorough report.
“It makes sobering reading. It shows that stretching over a 20 year period a series of mistakes were made which left a number of women feeling seriously let down and for that there is absolutely no excuse whatsoever.
“The report also shows that the individuals who dealt with their complaints had the right motives, but there weren’t the right processes in place to support the women who’d come forward. And as Leader of the Liberal Democrats I take responsibility for that. That’s why we’ve made a number of big changes in the party in recent years and why we must and will do more.
“Let me be clear: the Liberal Democrats must be a party where even a hint of sexism is taken seriously; where every allegation of harassment is dealt with properly; and where there can be no fear that power or position can be abused.
“Helena Morrissey herself confirmed that we have made significant steps in fixing these problems and she confirmed that there’s no cover up of any error or wrongdoing.
“But she’s right to say that there’s more we should do and that’s why we must now speed up the process of change within the party. It’s why I can confirm that we will implement all her recommendations – in full and without any delay. It’s why I’ve asked Tim Farron, the President of the Liberal Democrats, to tell me how and when these changes will occur, and Helena Morrissey herself will come back in a year to check on the progress that we’ve made.”
“Today Helena Morrissey published the report of her independent inquiry into allegations made in February that the Party had failed to respond adequately to complaints and warnings of alleged sexual harassment.
“The report concluded – and the Party has accepted – that, despite recent improvements, and despite the fact that the report is clear that those with whom issues were raised acted in good faith, it failed to deliver the procedures needed in a modern organisation to respond adequately to all those involved.
“Helena has made some clear practical recommendations which as Chief Executive I will work with the Leader and President to implement in full.
“These include changes to the guidelines throughout the Party for handling bullying and harassment, the appointment of a dedicated member of staff for complaints processes, and raising performance and standards through regular surveys.
“Helena recommends raising the priority given to complaint resolution, encouraging formal submission and improvements to processes for handling them.
“She also has suggestions for ensuring that women and minorities are valued, tackling under-representation and measuring progress.
“Helena recognises in her report that as a Party we are in many regards like a family. We do not want to lose this.
“However, we are also an organisation operating in the 21st Century, and it is imperative that we have the processes in place to reflect the responsibilities and standards that you rightly should expect - not to mention the values and ideals that brought us together in the first place.
“We must now work together to achieve that outcome.”