Claims of sexual harassment at Westminster "deeply concerning"

The British Prime Minister says any allegations brought forward will be treated "extremely seriously"

Claims of sexual harassment at Westminster "deeply concerning"

The British Houses of Parliament at Westminster, London. Image: Tim Ireland/PA Wire/PA Images

The British Prime Minister has said claims of sexual harassment in Westminster are “deeply concerning.”

Theresa May urged anyone with information regarding the claims to come forward.

A Downing Street spokesperson said Mrs May will take any allegations "extremely seriously," following reports Cabinet ministers have been named among a list of politicians accused of inappropriate behaviour and abuse.

According to The Sun, a group of female employees at Westminster use WhatsApp to warn members about MPs and other senior figures from across the political parties.

It follows allegations made against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein by a number of women working in Hollywood.

The Number 10 spokeswoman said: "Any reports of sexual harassment are deeply concerning.”

"The Prime Minister was very clear when we responded to the reports about Harvey Weinstein in the last few weeks that any unwanted sexual behaviour is completely unacceptable,” she said. “And that is true in any walk of life, including politics.”

"Any allegations that may come to light will be taken extremely seriously and we would advise people to contact the police if there is such an allegation so that it's fully investigated."

She insisted Mrs May was unaware of any allegations having been formally reported.

Asked if claims about a minister would lead to their sacking by Mrs May, the spokeswoman added: "She would take it extremely seriously and serious action would be taken where it's necessary."

She said allegations that may not warrant a police investigation could be made to House of Commons officials or party authorities.

Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn welcomed the Prime Minister's comments, telling LBC Radio: “There has to be a proper system of people, women in particular, being able to report if they've been abused in any way and have it dealt with in a timely and proper manner.”

"Our party, the Labour Party, has a process of doing that both for employees of party officials, MPs and councillors, but also for party members who feel they've been abused in any way," he said.

The reported WhatsApp group, said to include female researchers, secretaries and aides, is claimed to include warnings such as "very handy," "not safe in taxis" and "groped my arse at a drinks party."

The Harvey Weinstein scandal prompted a #MeToo campaign on social media, in which women spoke out about their own experiences of sexual harassment.

British Parliamentary officials said there is a free and confidential 24/7 helpline provided by the House of Commons for all member's staff.

A House of Commons spokesperson said: "The House of Commons takes the welfare of everyone who works in Parliament very seriously.”

"The House is limited in its ability to intervene in employment matters, such as allegations of bullying or harassment by MPs of their staff as MPs are self-employed and employ their staff directly," she said.