Suspended MP Ivan Lewis Who Was Under Investigation For Sexual Harassment Has Quit The Labour Party
The Bury South MP has said he intends to remain in Parliament as an independent.
Suspended Labour MP Ivan Lewis has quit the party before an investigation into sexual harassment allegations against him had been resolved.
Lewis, who announced his plans today, cited antisemitism in the Labour Party as his reason for resigning the whip.
Lewis was suspended by the Labour party over a year ago after several women came forward and alleged to BuzzFeed News that he had sexually harassed them. Lewis has denied all the allegations.
In his resignation letter, addressed to Jeremy Corbyn, he said: "It is for others to determine whether you are anti semitic but what is absolutely clear is that you and Seamus Milne do not believe in the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in their own state."
The Bury South MP has said he intendeds to remain in Parliament as an independent.
BuzzFeed News understands that Lewis had recently been informed that a date for his hearing by Labour's National Constitutional Committee, would be set in the New Year.
A Labour Source said: “Ivan was under investigation for alleged sexual harassment. His resignation means the complainants have been denied a hearing.”
Women who brought the original allegations told BuzzFeed News welcomed Lewis' departure, but criticised the length of time it had taken to conclude the investigation into his conduct.
"After waiting for over a year I'm never going to get that hearing," one of the complainants, Amy Coffey, said. "I'm glad Ivan is gone from the party but I am sad that I have waited over a year to finally be heard but now I am silenced and Ivan will continue to work as an MP without consequences for his actions."
A parliamentary researcher, who had previously spoken to BuzzFeed News about Lewis' behaviour added: “Thank you, next. Personally I’m a little bit more comfortable in my party tonight... We must indeed purge antisemitism from the party but it’s hard to accept the moral high ground from individuals whose own behaviour remains under question.”
One woman who had been in professional contact with Lewis and now works in Westminster, who also made allegations of sexual harassment to BuzzFeed News, said: “We must be honest with ourselves about how much things have really changed when Lewis has been allowed to work here for over a year without parliamentary authorities making any formal investigations I’m aware of."
"I feel uncomfortable about the fact that he is going to carry on working in the parliamentary estate without any investigation into such complaints,” she added.
A spokesperson for Labour Women’s Network said that: "LWN continues to campaign for an appropriate process for sexual harassment complaints, which avoids lengthy delays and is independent from first contact to final outcome.”
Lewis has vehemently denied the allegations against him, but has apologised for past behaviour that he acknowledged had made women feel "uncomfortable".
In a statement to BuzzFeed News last year, he said: "I am deeply saddened to hear of my suspension pending investigation.
"I strongly dispute the allegations and intend to co-operate fully with the Labour party’s investigation.”
A Labour Party spokesperson, said: “Jeremy Corbyn thanks Ivan for his service to the Labour Party.
"The Labour Party takes all complaints of sexual harassment extremely seriously, which are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures and appropriate disciplinary action taken.
"This case was referred to a full hearing of Labour’s National Constitutional Committee. The process is the same for everyone.”