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Labour MP Charlotte Nichols defends sharing Westminster ‘sexual harassment list’ to WhatsApp group

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Labour MP Charlotte Nichols

Charlotte Nichols has defended naming alleged “sexual harassers” on a WhatsApp group for fellow Labour MPs, saying she is many things, but a “bystander isn’t one”. 

Nichols, MP for Warrington North, named 20 MPs in an alleged “sexual harassment list” shared to a WhatsApp group of fellow Labour MPs elected in 2019, as she was, the Daily Mail reported. 

The list reportedly contained the names of MPs who’ve been publicly accused of sexual misconduct, as well as some who have not.

After receiving criticism for posting the list, Nichols defended her actions as attempting to keep colleagues “safe”.

“Am I not meant to warn others about conduct I’ve seen, experienced, or been told about that many times by different people that it’s a clear pattern of behaviour?” Nichols, 31, wrote on Twitter.

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“What’s ACTUALLY irresponsible is the lack of real action to sort out Westminster’s sexual harassment problem which is so endemic other MPs and staff have to be warned about some colleagues’ behaviour to keep them safe… wish it wasn’t this way, but for now it is.”

She added that she “legally” can’t make a third party report to the police, which is why she chose to name the accused in the WhatsApp group instead.

Several people came to Nichols’ defence, with Women in Political Data founder Jade Azim claiming that naming alleged sexual harassers is something that women have always done to keep themselves safe at work.

“As staffers, we kept ourselves safe with whispers and solidarity,” she said.

“This is the necessary reality of protecting others, especially women, in Westminster.”

Another Twitter user added: “It strikes me that women looking out for each other on the parliamentary estate by sharing the names of risky persons is a) good personal solidarity and b) a damning indictment of rape culture at the heart of our democracy.

“I can scarcely think of something *more* responsible.”

Charlotte Nichols said that she stood by the list, adding that for one person on the list, she had “first-hand experience of their behaviour”.

Last year, Nichols claimed that she had been sexually harassed by male MPs at least “a dozen times” since being elected, claiming the unnamed perpetrators were from multiple parties. 

“As a younger woman MP, I’ve had instances of being propositioned in front of colleagues by an MP old enough to be my granddad repeatedly,” she told Yahoo News.

“People making sort of inappropriate comments about your appearance; people touching you in places they shouldn’t; or inviting you back to theirs.”

She added that when she started as an MP in 2019, she was warned about certain MPs she should avoid for her “personal safety”.

“I was sat down quite early on by a few people that I knew when I came into parliament who told me people to stay away from – never accept a drink from, to never get a cab with, or share a lift with, and all that sort of thing,” Nichols told the outlet.

“It’s not just about keeping yourself safe on a personal safety level, but it’s also your professional reputation.”

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