SHEFFIELD MP Nick Clegg has insisted he has ‘nothing to hide’ over the way he dealt with concerns about alleged inappropriate behaviour by his party’s former chief executive.
The Liberal Democrat leader faced questions over a cover-up after he admitted knowing five years ago about claims of alleged sexual harassment by Lord Chris Rennard.
But Mr Clegg, Sheffield Hallam MP, said yesterday he ‘didn’t use the word screwed up’ about the way the party had handled the incident, a description used by Tim Farron, the party’s president.
However, he admitted he ‘suspected’ the inquiries he has ordered into the allegations would show party procedures were flawed.
He said: “I hope I have given a full, frank, honest account.
“I have nothing to hide, the party has nothing to hide.
“We have now to listen to the women who feel they weren’t properly listened to and get to the truth.”
Mr Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, said the party had confronted Lord Rennard with the concerns, which had been made anonymously, and he denied them.
Mr Clegg said: “I’ve got nothing to hide.
“I happen to know some of these women very well.
“One of them worked for me. She never said anything about this until now.
“I know her well enough and I’m actually fond of her so I feel for her and I want us to do the right thing, which we will do by these investigations.
“The problem is that until last week no specific allegations were put to me.
“We acted on general concerns expressed sometime ago but, of course, now those concerns have evolved into specific allegations, we can act and we will.”
The peer – a key party strategist and adviser to a succession of leaders before standing down in 2009 – has said he is ‘deeply shocked’ by the allegations, which he ‘strongly disputes’.
An independent-chaired review will be held into Lib Dem procedures and how they were applied at the time.
A separate investigation will be carried out into Lord Rennard under the party’s disciplinary rules.
A spokesman for Prime Minister David Cameron said the PM retains full confidence in Mr Clegg.
He said: “I would simply make a general point that harassment of all kinds is unacceptable.
“With regard to the current series of allegations, that is a matter for the Liberal Democrat party.”
What do you think about Mr Clegg’s handling of the affair? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org