Leader comment: MPs found guilty of sexual harassment deserve to lose their jobs

Home Secretary Amber Rudd. Pic: Jeff Overs/BBC/PA Wire
Home Secretary Amber Rudd. Pic: Jeff Overs/BBC/PA Wire
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WE have not, it seems almost certain, heard the end of serious allegations of sexual harassment and assault against male politicians.

With each day, more depressing details of the shameful abuse of power by men in positions of authority emerge. Both Westminster and Holyrood are now tainted by a scandal which has already ended a number of high-flying careers and looks certain to scupper many more.

It is surely clear that, painful though the weeks ahead may be for some, if not all, political parties, current examination of the behaviour of powerful men is long overdue.

The scale of the abuse of power by men in politics is shocking. While there may, down the years, have been rumours about the behaviour of certain high-profile MPs, even seasoned political observers are surprised by how many men are now caught up in scandal over their behaviour.

In all cases of alleged sexual harassment or assault by MPs of MSPs, political parties must do all they can to make victims feel supported and able, if they wish, to pursue formal complaints, internally and with the police.

Political parties - and other large organisations - should have already come to terms with the inevitability of damaging allegations against senior men. The days and weeks ahead will be difficult for the major parties; not only will they have to confront new allegations, they will have to answer hard questions about past failure to act on any concerns.

It is necessary, at this time, for the Government to lead by example and we were encouraged yesterday when Home secretary Amber Rudd said that MPs found guilt of sexual harassment should be kicked out of parliament.

It is not easy for an MP, once elected, to be removed from office. This reality protects democracy against attacks by those with hidden agendas but it will also stand in the way of justice for victims of sexual harassment. All parties must work together to ensure that, in the cases of those found to have abused their power, their departure from the House of Commons follows as a matter of course.

If UK politics is to recover from this latest scandal, MPs must do all they can to change the culture in which they operate. That will require a zero tolerance response to any and all cases of sexual harassment and assault.