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Daily Echo

Gidley 'told Clegg about Rennard'

Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author

Reported by Patrick Knox

Web journalist

Published / News
13 comments

A FORMER Romsey MP last night joined the political storm surrounding sex pest allegations against the Lib Dem’s former chief executive.

Sandra Gidley, who was MP for Romsey for a decade before losing her seat in 2010, said she told Nick Clegg about “general concerns” about the party’s then chief executive Lord Rennard shortly after he became leader.

A number of women have accused the peer of sexually inappropriate behaviour.

Lord Rennard denies the allegations.

Ms Gidley’s comments come on the eve of the Eastleigh by-election where the party had hoped to win after Lib Dem MP Chris Huhne resigned after admitting perverting the course of justice.

Mr Clegg has said he heard only “indirect and non-specific concerns”

about the Lib Dem peer until last week, when a Channel 4 News investigation alleged that he had behaved improperly towards women in the party on a number of occasions.

But when asked by The Daily Telegraph whether she told Mr Clegg “face-to-face” about the allegations, she replied: “Yes, that is true, but at this point I don’t want to go any further.

I am hoping his memory might be jogged. Shall we leave it at that?”

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Ms Gidley later said that she did not have precise details of alleged incidents when she approached the Lib Dem leader.

In a statement issued by the party, she said: “I spoke to Nick Clegg about general concerns. I didn’t knowof any specific incidents and neither did he.”

A spokesman for Mr Clegg said: “Sandra Gidley once raised general concerns with Nick Clegg about Lord Rennard’s conduct. She did not know of or raise specific allegations.

“As Nick Clegg has said, he was aware of general concerns which were acted upon by this then chief of staff, Danny Alexander.”

Lord Rennard, who stepped down as chief executive on health grounds in 2009, yesterday said he was ready to “co-operate with any properly-constituted inquiry” into allegations of inappropriate behaviour.

The peer issued a strenuous fresh denial of any wrong-doing as senior Liberal Democrats met Metropolitan Police officers to discuss the case.

Scotland Yard said the meeting was held to help ascertain whether any criminal activity had taken place, adding: “That work continues.”

A party spokesman said that two internal inquiries into the allegations will continue, adding: “It is important that people with information have the confidence to come forward and that their information is dealt with sensitively and appropriately.”

One woman, who claims the peer followed her to the toilet at a candidates’ event in Peterborough and propositioned her when she came out, said she knew of nine women claiming to have had similar experiences.

The former county councillor, who gave her name only as Susan, told BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme she was “extremely distressed”

after the peer allegedly touched her leg and invited her back to his hotel room.

Lord Rennard held an “almighty amount of power” in the party and was a “man who could control your future”, she said.

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