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Chris Bryant says he was 'touched up' by senior MPs amid outcry at Parliament's culture

1 May 2022, 10:46 | Updated: 1 May 2022, 19:55

Chris Bryant says he was touched by male MPs
Chris Bryant says he was touched by male MPs. Picture: Alamy/LBC/Parliament TV

By Will Taylor

Chris Bryant has said he was touched by older, senior MPs after he was first elected to the House of Commons.

The Labour MP, who chairs the standards committee, told LBC's Iain Dale on Sunday that he felt he could not report it because he did not want to "end up being part of the story".

His comments come after a week where the culture at Parliament was brought under scrutiny, after a story about Angela Rayner being accused of crossing her legs to distract Boris Johnson was branded misogynistic.

Neil Parish, a Tory, has had to quit after he admitted watching porn in the Commons.

And trade secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan revealed to LBC she had been pushed up against a wall by a male MP with "wandering hands".

Mr Bryant - who himself is gay - said: "I remember when I came in, in 2001, I was regularly touched up by older, senior gay – they weren't out – MPs.

"I never felt I was able to report it because you end up being part of the story, that’s the last thing you want.

"I think a lot of women have been through that."

He added: "I can think of four MPs... I was shocked at the time… none of them are out of course. I think that now if anybody would do that I would be absolutely robust.

"I would call the person out immediately and I would make a complaint."

He did not name the MPs and added that racism and misogyny is "certainly still around in Parliament".

Read more: Neil Parish resigns after watching porn in Commons - but says he meant to look at tractors

Mr Bryant's story follows calls for change in the culture at Parliament, after a week that started with outrage at the Angela Rayner story and ended with an MP having to resign for twice watching porn in the Commons.

Caroline Nokes, the Conservative MP, said her party was institutionally sexist as she revealed she had been touched and bullied by male MPs.

Asked about the comments on LBC on Sunday, business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: "No, I don't agree with her, I think that it's easy when you have a few what I call bad apples, there are instances where individuals behave badly.

"There are a few but it's very easy to brand the whole institution as institutionally sexist, I don't think that's true."

Boris Johnson was among those to criticise the report that said Ms Rayner, the deputy leader of Labour, had been accused of crossing her legs to distract the Prime Minister.

Mr Bryant said he was touched by four MPs
Mr Bryant said he was touched by four MPs. Picture: Alamy

That was followed by Liam Byrne, the former Labour minister, having to apologise for ostracising a member of his staff.

A complaint made against Mr Byrne, saying that he bullied a a former constituency office worker, was upheld by Parliament's standards commissioner Kathryn Stone.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan, speaking about the culture in Parliament, said she had once been pinned against a wall by a male MP who is no longer in politics.

Read more: MPs 'plan Commons clean-up' in wake of porn scandal

The trade secretary told LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast: "Well, we might describe it as wandering hands, if you like, we might describe it as a number of years ago being pinned up against a wall by a male MP who is now no longer in the House, I'm pleased to say, declaring that I must want him because he was a powerful man."

As anger about a culture of misogyny in Westminster swelled, two female MPs revealed they had spotted a male Tory MP watching porn in the House of Commons.

That MP was later named as Neil Parish, who initially said he wanted an inquiry into what happened and did not want to resign.

But on Saturday he admitted he had watched porn twice in the Commons. The farmer, who has been chairing the Commons environment committee, said the first time was when he was looking at tractors online and he accidentally ended up on porn.

The second instance was deliberate and he said he will stand down from his Tiverton and Honiton seat, in South-West England.