Lord Rennard ‘sorry’ over behaviour towards activists

Lord Rennard has apologised over his behaviour towards women during his time helping to run the Liberal Democrats. Picture: PA
Lord Rennard has apologised over his behaviour towards women during his time helping to run the Liberal Democrats. Picture: PA
Share this article
Have your say

THE former chief executive of the Liberal Democrats Lord Rennard has an issued an apology over his behaviour towards women when he helped run the party.

The peer had been ordered to apologise to his alleged victims after a party investigation into allegations made by four women against him.

Lord Rennard was accused of trying to use his position to force himself sexually on women who wanted to be parliamentary candidates.

However, he initially refused to apologise because it might open him up to legal action.

It meant that the party would not allow him to sit with the Lib Dem group in the Lords and he decided not to take his seat complaining of ill-health caused by the stress from the controversy.

In the written apology, which has been obtained by Channel 4 News, Lord Rennard said he “personally accepts” the full report of Alistair Webster QC as given to him on March 7th “in its entirety” and he “does recognise as suggested in the full report, that he may well have encroached upon ‘personal space’”.

The apology reads: “Lord Rennard wishes to achieve closure of the contentious issues that have been in the public domain for the last fourteen months by expressing his apologies to Susan Gaszczak, Alison Goldsworthy, Bridget Harris and [former Aberdeen city councillor] Alison Smith.”

The letter goes on: “Lord Rennard wishes to make it absolutely clear that it was never his intention to cause distress or concern to them by anything that he ever said or did.

“He would therefore like to apologise sincerely for any such intrusion and assure them that this would have been inadvertent.”

Alison Goldsworthy, one of the women named who made the original allegation, said: “I am relieved that some acceptance has now started to come forward from Chris Rennard that what he did was not okay but very frustrated that I have had to spend the last fifteen months talking about things that are really very private and quite intimate to me to be able to achieve it. If he had accepted and offered this apology up fifteen months ago then things may be very different.”

But Ms Goldsworthy urged lib Dem leader Nick Clegg to kick Lord Rennard out of the Lib Dem party.

She said: “The right thing is to look at the body of evidence that has come before them which is currently being considered. To look at the fact that Chris Rennard has now accepted that his behaviour was untoward, which he has spent the last fifteen months denying and trying to discredit anybody who spoke out and to say, ‘No, that is not acceptable and you should be kicked out’. There is no reason for him [Nick Clegg] to be cowed by Lord Rennard.”

A spokesman for Lord Rennard told Channel 4 News: “The apology speaks for itself. Lord Rennard has now done as the Webster report suggested. He has, of yet, received no response to his letter from the party. Lord Rennard would have offered this apology much sooner, had he been given sight of the Webster report when it was completed.”

A Liberal Democrat spokesman said: “An appeal has been submitted by three of the original complainants against the outcome of Alistair Webster’s investigation. Separately, an appeal has been submitted by Lord Rennard against the disciplinary process for bringing the party into disrepute by his failure to apologise, and his conduct after the publication of Webster’s conclusions.

“Both appeals will be considered by the English Appeals Panel in accordance with the rules of the party. We cannot comment further on any aspect of that process while it is ongoing.”