Health Secretary Says Sex Accusations Must Be Reported

29 October 2017, 13:50

Shona Robison

Scotland's health secretary has said she would find it hard to believe Holyrood would be "immune" from sexual harassment incidents.

Shona Robison's called for reports to be brought out into the open, reported to the police or parliamentary authorities.

They came after human rights lawyer Aaamer Anwar said women at all levels of the Scottish Parliament had been subjected to sexual harassment.

Ms Robison said: "I'm very concerned by the reports that I've read and there is clearly a focus at the moment about sexual harassment in a number of institutions and I would find it hard to believe that the Scottish Parliament is immune from that.

"It's really important these issues are brought out and people obviously should report it to the parliamentary authorities, to the police possibly, and also if its a party issue, to the political party.

"We need to bring these things out into the open.

"Whether it's the Scottish Parliament, whether it's Westminster, it's really important that things, that have perhaps been brushed under the carpet for too long in regards to sexual harassment, these things need to be brought out because clearly it's totally unacceptable that anybody should be faced with that type of behaviour."

Mr Anwar made the claims after allegations of inappropriate behaviour emerged about MPs being harassed at Westminster.

He told the Sunday Herald he had spoken to "a number of women" over the last two years about their treatment by men at Holyrood.

He said: "It's a catalogue of sexual harassment, stalking, social media abuse, sexual innuendos, verbal sexual abuse, touching, sexual assaults, requests for sex, cover-up, isolation and bullying."

MPs at Westminster have been accused of intimidating or propositioning young women inappropriately.

The lawyer said women at Holyrood had come to him about the same problem.

He added: "I have spoken to several individuals who have been subject to sexual harassment.

"This is not just a problem for one party. It is a problem for all parties.

A Scottish Parliament spokesman said: "Sexual harassment is unacceptable and we take any allegation of sexual harassment in the workplace very seriously.

"The parliament has robust procedures in place to investigate and deal with any reports of sexual harassment in the workplace. If any individuals were to witness or experience such behaviour, we would encourage them to report it."