A Conservative peer has said her party has a “problem” with handling allegations of bullying and sexual misconduct.
Baroness Warsi, who served as co-chair of the Conservative Party from 2010 to 2012, said there was “rot at the heart” of the party and that it had failed to respond to and support victims.
She told Times Radio: “I think [the party] does have a problem.
“Whether it’s bullying, whether it’s allegations of racism and now allegations of sexual misconduct, the party for years and years has simply failed to deal with responding to victims appropriately in all of those areas”.
She added: “And I really hope, rather than just batting this away again, that the party takes a long, hard look at itself”.
“We cannot be the party of government which governs in this country more than any other political party and still have this rot at the heart of us, whether that’s racism, whether that’s bullying, whether that’s sexual misconduct.”
According to The Mail on Sunday, the newspaper which is serialising the former culture secretary Nadine Dorries’ book on the recent history of the Conservative Party, Sir Jake Berry, a former party chairman himself, told the police that an internal “failure” to act on allegations had allowed the unnamed MP to “continue to offend”.
The prime minister Rishi Sunak said yesterday: “These are very serious, anonymous allegations. It may be that they allude to something that is already the subject of a live police investigation, so I hope you understand it wouldn’t be right for me to comment on that further specifically.
“More broadly the Conservative Party has robust independent complaint procedures in place, but I would say to anybody who has information or evidence about any criminal acts to of course talk to police, that’s the right course of action.”
Asked on Sunday about payments to an alleged victim on Times Radio, Dowden insisted it was not “something that crossed my desk as chairman of the Conservative Party”, although he acknowledged: “It may be the case. I’m not denying that it could be the case that those payments were made”.
Dowden also denied recognising claims in Dorries’ book that there are “30 bad” MPs “out there” at any given time.
Speaking to Sky News yesterday, Baroness Warsi also called home secretary Suella Braverman “dangerous and divisive”, arguing that some of her colleagues in government “project as patriots but are indeed arsonists”.
Warsi took issue with Braverman’s take on the demonstrations due to take place around Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday. Braverman has labelled such demonstrations as “hate marches”.
Warsi accused Braverman of making this “a political issue to embolden the far right”.
She said: “She’d been briefed by the Met of what the route of the march was going to be, and the fact that they didn’t have concerns at this stage, she has now made this a live political issue because that’s the way she operates, right?
“She fights culture wars. She doesn’t fix things, she breaks things.”