Former minister Ivan Lewis has been suspended by the Labour party after several women said he had sexually harassed them.
Last week BuzzFeed News reported that Lewis was under investigation by the party after a woman came forward to say that when she was 19 he had repeatedly touched her leg and asked her back to his house at a Labour social event.
Lewis vehemently denied the allegations but apologised for past behaviour that he acknowledged had made women feel "uncomfortable".
A Labour party spokesperson told BuzzFeed News on Thursday: “The Labour party takes all allegations of sexual harassment extremely seriously. Ivan Lewis is currently suspended from the Labour Party pending an investigation.”
"I am deeply saddened to hear of my suspension pending investigation," Lewis said in response.
"I strongly dispute the allegations and intend to co-operate fully with the Labour party’s investigation.”
Four other women told BuzzFeed News that they had also been subjected to unwanted advances from Lewis, who was a minister under Gordon Brown and then served in Ed Miliband's shadow cabinet, while a fifth said his behaviour was common knowledge among parliamentarians and "rarely challenged".
Lewis also denied the allegations made by the four women, saying in a statement released through his lawyers that he "has always sought to behave with integrity", and apologised if invitations to join him for dinner or drinks "caused them discomfort".
Last week the Manchester Evening News reported that another female Labour member had lodged a complaint against Lewis, claiming he "attempted to touch her inappropriately and pursued her sexually for months".
Lewis, who has stepped aside from his role as joint lead on homelessness for Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham following the claims, told the MEN he "totally reject(s) the version of events put forward".
He is the second MP to be suspended by Labour since sex harassment claims surfaced in Westminster.
Hannah Al-Othman is a political correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Hannah Al-Othman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jim Waterson is a politics editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Jim Waterson at email@example.com.
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