Jewish UK Labour MP investigated for sexual harassment – report

A Jewish member of the UK’s Parliament is under formal investigation by the British Labour Party for alleged sexual harassment, according to reports Wednesday.

Ivan Lewis, the lawmaker representing Manchester’s Bury South constituency, was accused by a woman of stroking her leg and propositioning her at a Labour Party fundraiser in 2010, when she was 19-years-old, according to a report in Buzzfeed.

The allegations were first reported two weeks ago. The unnamed woman told Buzzfeed Wednesday she had made a formal complaint to the party.

In a statement, the Labour Party said Lewis was under investigation following the formal complaint.

“The Labour Party takes all allegations of sexual harassment extremely seriously and all complaints are investigated in line with our robust procedures,” the party said.

Since the original story, Buzzfeed said it had been contacted by several other women who told the website that they had also been harassed by Lewis. They said that the MP made them feel uncomfortable though they described the harassment as “minor.”

They also complained that they felt unable to make official complaints to the party because they did not know the procedure or were advised not to do so.

A lawyer for Lewis told Buzzfeed the lawmaker apologized for making women feel uncomfortable, but downplayed the allegations.

“Mr Lewis has previously acknowledged that on some occasions his invitations to people he works with to join him for dinner or drinks have made them feel uncomfortable. He apologizes if this caused them discomfort and if he underestimated the impact his invitations to drinks or dinner could have,” the attorney said.

“He has always sought to behave with integrity and is genuinely sorry if he got it wrong in some circumstances. He fully supports the rights of women to raise these issues, and stresses his commitment to equality and fairness in the workplace,” the lawyer added.

In 2008 Lewis was forced to apologize for sending a series of intimate text messages to an aide, Suzie Mason.

Lewis has represented Bury South, which has a large Jewish population, since 1997.

He served as a junior minister under Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, and as a shadow minister, or opposition spokesperson, under Ed Miliband.

When Jeremy Corbyn took the reins of the Labour party, Lewis was relegated to the back benches and currently holds no official portfolio.

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