A TORY MSP says he has been through a “living hell” after being cleared of sexual harassment following a party disciplinary hearing into the claims.
Miles Briggs insisted that the accusations made by a female worker with another party were “completely false”.
But the woman behind the claims says she is “sad and angry” at the way the Tories handled the claims and suggested the outcome of the two-hour hearing yesterday was a foregone conclusion.
A number of witness testimonies considered by a disciplinary panel yesterday claimed the MSP and complainer had been arguing about the so called “rape clause”, although the woman claimed Mr Briggs had “draped himself over her” and used sexual language.
Campaign groups warned the Conservatives’ procedure was “inappropriate” and will deter women coming forward in future with harassment claims.
The claims centre on a series of exchanges between Mr Briggs and the woman which started at a Scottish Parliament/French Rugby team reception at the French Consulate in Edinburgh on February 10 and continued at a flat party later that night.
The woman formally lodged a complaint with the Conservatives in July. Following a hearing in front of a four-person panel yesterday, which saw Mr Briggs’ version of events backed by some SNP researchers, he was cleared of wrongdoing.
The Lothians MSP said afterwards: “The last two months have been a living hell for me and my family as I have had to face these false allegations of sexual harassment made against me.
“Damage has clearly been done to my character, especially among those who don’t know me, and I hope I have the chance to address that in the coming weeks and months.”
He said that he had got into an argument with the woman at a flat party in Edinburgh and left 20 minutes after arriving. Although the MSP admitted he had been drinking, he said he was catching a flight to London the next morning at 6.30am and was not intoxicated.
Mr Briggs insisted that his behaviour on the night did not “fall short” of that expected of an MSP. However, the panel heard that he had called the woman a “crazy bitch” as they argued, which he later apologised for.
Eight other witnesses backed Mr Briggs’ version of events, with most claiming they saw the MSP and the complainer arguing about the Conservatives’ so called “rape clause” policy of cutting off benefits to mothers unless they show conception of a third child occurred through rape.
Sandy Brindley from Rape Crisis Scotland, said: “This is why women are reluctant to come forward with sexual harassment complaints.
“In our view the Scottish Conservatives need to urgently change their approach to investigating sexual harassment complaints.
“This is not about party politics, it’s about ensuring that anyone experiencing sexual harassment feels secure about coming forward and expects fair treatment if they do.”
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