Ex-Labour MP Mike Hill facing possible criminal inquiry over sexual assault claims

A former Arbeid MP is facing a possible criminal inquiry after an employment tribunal ruled that he repeatedly sexually assaulted and harassed a parliamentary staff member before victimising her when she refused his advances.

The former MP for Hartlepool Mike Hill was found to have climbed into the victim’s bed and also sexually assaulted her in his office.

A central London employment tribunal found he marginalised her in parliament, changed her terms and conditions of employment and made her redundant when the staff member, known as Ms A, rejected his advances and declarations of love.

The ruling, seen by the Guardian, is expected by Ms A’s legal team to encourage other people who have been sexually harassed in parliament to pursue similar action.

In a statement released through her solicitor, Ms A said she was “extraordinarily disappointed” at the way Labour had responded to her complaint of sexual harassment and said she was likely to pursue a complaint to the police against Hill, which she had put on hold.

Ms A told the tribunal that Hill, who was then married, conducted a campaign of sexual harassment and bullying against her over a 16-month period in 2017 en 2018.

In a witness statement, Ms A said she had known Hill as a friend for several years when he suggested she move to London to work in parliament. She claimed Hill suggested they could live together in a flat to save her costs.

In September 2017, after she had made arrangements to leave her home in the north of England and move to London, she claims Hill called her and declared his love for her. After rejecting Hill’s suggestions, she claims he apologised and insisted she should still work for and live with him.

The tribunal was told Hill then pursued her while living with her, both in the flat in Pimlico, central London, and in Hill’s office on the parliamentary estate.

A reserved judgment released on Wednesday said Hill was in breach of the Equalities Act in subjecting the claimant “to unwanted conduct of a sexual nature”.

The breaches included a telephone call on the evening of 22 September 2017 in which he told the claimant he loved her; “getting into bed with the claimant on 11 December 2017 and rubbing his erection against her”; and “sexual assaults on occasions at the Westminster office”.

He was also found to have victimised her with behaviour that included deactivating her security pass; ignoring her work-related text and emails; and terminating the claimant’s employment while stating he would put notice on the shared flat in a text message.

Separate complaints of disability discrimination and discrimination under whistleblowing laws were not upheld.

Hill resigned as a Labour MP in March, resulting in a May byelection in Hartlepool and a victory for the Conservatives. His case has been funded by the taxpayer because of an insurance policy offered to all MPs, while Ms A’s has been funded in part through a crowdfunding campaign.

The Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen told the tribunal he had met Ms A on several occasions in parliament in 2018 en 2019 and she told him about Hill’s alleged sexual harassment.

During the tribunal, Kate Hollern, the MP for Blackburn, resigned from the shadow cabinet after being accused of trying to isolate Ms A for making allegations against Hill. The tribunal was told that Hollern warned Bridgen not to get involved in claims against Hill, saying there were rumours that Bridgen was having an affair with Ms A which would be damaging if they were disclosed by a newspaper.

A hearing looking at remedies to be paid to Ms A has been scheduled for November.

'N independent investigation looking at the same allegations found Hill had breached a new sexual misconduct policy, but he escaped any major sanction because he had already stepped down.

Suzanne McKie, Ms A’s legal adviser, said her client was likely to make contact with the police shortly regarding Hill’s behaviour.

In a statement released to the Guardian, Ms A said she was “extraordinarily disappointed and shocked at the lack of support from the Labour party” after she decided to pursue a case against Hill.

“I am hugely grateful for the support of Farore Law, who worked tirelessly on this matter, and very grateful for the support of and integrity of Andrew Bridgen MP, who gave evidence on my behalf, and Kirk Porter, van die Volksraad Commission, who helped me from day one," sy het gese.

Bridgen, the MP for North West Leicestershire, who gave evidence on behalf of Ms A, said he hoped other victims of harassment would be persuaded to come forward following the judgment.

“There may well be other alleged victims of powerful individuals, and they should draw strength from this landmark tribunal ruling," hy het gesê.

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