Statement from Lord Rennard

A spokesman for Lord Rennard issued the following statement last night:

All allegations made about Lord Rennard have now been investigated thoroughly.  This included a seven month investigation by specially trained officers of the Metropolitan Police.  The police decided that there could be no charges and did not even a send a file to the Crown Prosecution Service.

In addition, there was a lengthy investigation by independent QC Alistair Webster.  He also concluded that there was insufficient evidence even to proceed to a disciplinary hearing.

The Liberal Democrat Party has now dealt with all the allegations and the matter is closed.

We must advise anyone against publishing or broadcasting defamatory remarks. Accusations that were rejected by both the Metropolitan Police and an independent QC would be treated as such.

All comments on this post will be pre-moderated.

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  • Lord Chris Rennard
    We must advise anyone against publishing or broadcasting defamatory remarks. Accusations that were rejected by both the Metropolitan Police and an independent QC would be treated as such.

    Alistair Webster QC

    Let me be clear from the outset that the evidence suggests that Lord Rennard’s behaviour has caused distress to a number of women, so much so that they came forward several years after the events in question.

  • That last paragraph there: if anything illustrates the combination of entitlement complex and illiberal bullying better, I’ve yet to see it.

  • Stephen Harte 21st Aug '14 - 9:11am

    I have not followed all the twists and turns of this matetr and I am not as well versed in the different allegations as some will be. The purpose of this comment is not to express a view on guilt or innocence.

    However, it is celar that this matter has been very damaging for the Party and has cuased upset to many individual party members, whetehr they have made accusations, had accusations made against them or had offered support to any of the foregoing. This is not a situation where anyone should feel that they have been victorious over anyone else.
    Accordingly, the tone of Lord Renard’s statement greatly despresses me. Notwithstanding his conviction that he is innocent of the accusations made against him, issuing threats will not help this matter heal or go away. Lord Renard’s greatest service to the Party in the months to come would be a a deliberate period of silence.

  • This sends out a very clear message……….

  • Nick Barlow 21st Aug '14 - 9:17am

    Thank you for your statement, ‘spokesman’. I look forward to checking all my opinions with you in future before expressing them. Could someone please confirm what other matters are now closed and not requiring us to possess opinions on any more?

  • Just Liberal 21st Aug '14 - 9:31am

    Can I repeat what I said a couple of days ago.
    Every party makes mistakes.No one individual has all wisdom. It is time to say – let’s stop tearing ourselves apart. Let’s act to make sure that our actions and decisions in the future learn the lessons of the past. Only then will we honour the commitment and sacrifices of the scores of thousands to whom Liberalism was and is a cause worth every ounce of effort and second of time that we could muster.Otherwise we will be the ones who bring the party into disrepute.

  • Is it defamatory to point out that the claims made were found to be broadly credible?

  • Ruth Bright 21st Aug '14 - 9:55am

    Jennie sums up to perfection, as ever.

  • wow and the lessons learnt from this sorry affair is ……..

    None it would seem.

    One would hope that although Lord Rennard has been reinstated as a member of the party he is not given any kind of senior position within the party.

    It seems as though the ugly face of power and wealth has raised it’s head once more to intimidate “lesser people”

  • Eduardo Reyes 21st Aug '14 - 10:12am

    The puzzling thing for me in all this is that the party’s leadership, and people advising Lord Rennard, think that elaborate legal process is the only fit and appropriate response available to us as a party faced with these challenges.

    Even though I write about lawyers and the law for a living, this strikes me as dysfunctional and a total moral cop-out.
    It is odd to think of there being a “right” to membership of a political party, when parties grow out of mutually consenting, voluntary association of people with common cause.

    And although we work with people we accept we have a range of differences with, that pact of association can’t be a unilateral declaration. And it shouldn’t be managed by QCs, however eminent or independent. It’s just not appropriate.

    In that context, issuing statements bandying around legal threats isn’t just profoundly unclassy – it also misses the point. Perhaps willfully.

  • We must advise anyone against publishing or broadcasting defamatory remarks. Accusations that were rejected by both the Metropolitan Police and an independent QC would be treated as such

    On Channel 4 News last night a complainant accused Rennard of putting a hand on the knee and stroking his hand down the back. I have not seen anything credible beyond this, yet I have seen wildly incredible accusations in the media web pages and even in print from those who appear to be extrapolating hyperbolically from these patronising actions.

    Under such circumstances, this course of action would appear to be the only way to staunch the flow of defamatory remarks. Everyone should have the right to protect themselves from defamation., if this means that Rennard would confront his more febrile accusers in court the outcome could prove interesting.

  • Of course the defence to an action for libel is that the statements are true. I look forward to any libel action therefore as the complainants would then have the benefit of a proper court process to put their case. Having been already found to be credible it should be interesting. Perhaps Lord Rennard and his legal advisers have forgotten about McLibel. #McRennard

  • Stephen Campbell 21st Aug '14 - 10:25am

    Wow. That last paragraph truly is nothing more than an effort to bully/intimidate people into silence. Truly, in so many ways, the people at the top of this party aren’t really much different from the people at the top of the other parties.

    Is this the “New Politics” we were promised?

  • Duncan Borrowman 21st Aug '14 - 10:45am

    “The police … did not even a send a file to the Crown Prosecution Service”. Not what they told me when I went back a second time to sign my statement.

    “We must advise anyone against publishing or broadcasting defamatory remarks. Accusations that were rejected by both the Metropolitan Police and an independent QC would be treated as such.” Ah, we’ve now resorted to public bullying.

  • Liberal Neil 21st Aug '14 - 10:55am

    @Jo Shaw remind me, is the proof test in a libel action one of beyond reasonable doubt or balance of probabilities, out of interest?

  • To people complaining about the last paragraph – I have seen CR being compared to a sex offender and comments implying that women are not “safe” around him. Ask yourselves, honestly, if you would not react angrily to such comments being made about you? And if you maintained your innocence and both the police and an independent inquiry found there was insufficient evidence of wrongdoing, would you not be tempted to assert yourself in asking people to stop repeating the allegations as if they were incontrovertible gospel truth? You’re condemning someone for failing to show contrition for something he says he didn’t do.

  • Grace Goodlad 21st Aug '14 - 10:58am

    Here’s hoping that Private Eye read this….

  • If it had been my decision, I wouldnot have published Rennards statement at all. I certainly wont waste my time reading it. My message to rennard is simple, please go away, quietly.

  • This episode has aptly illustrated that the criminal standard of proof demanded by our consitution is not fit for purpose.

  • @LiberalNeil – It’s the civil standard of proof – balance of probabilities. The burden is on the defendant (ie if Rennard decides to sue the burden of proof would be on any complainant or anyone making a statement which he alleges is defamatory) so the defendant has to prove, on the balance of probabilities, that what they are saying is true. The complainants have been found to be credible by Alistair Webster.

    Lord Rennard’s apology is interesting. What was he apologising for if he had done absolutely nothing wrong? Even “inadvertently encroaching into four women’s personal space” (which is the subject of his apology) is pretty extraordinary behaviour for an intelligent man. As I’ve said elsewhere, surely you would realise after the first time that this was not acceptable? I think any judge (or jury as libel actions can be heard by a jury although the Defamation Act 2013 makes the presumption that it would be heard by a judge) might find it a challenging case to accept that Lord Rennard had issued an apology after months of saying he would not apologise when in fact there was nothing to apologise for. That would be very odd behaviour.

  • @ Jo Shaw

    “Even “inadvertently encroaching into four women’s personal space” (which is the subject of his apology) is pretty extraordinary behaviour for an intelligent man.”

    Really? Personal space is not some easily defined area of a certain radius that you can just look up on Wikipedia. There was a comment on LDV back in Jan/Feb (I think) by a man who said CR had once put his hand on his shoulder and it had made him slightly uncomfortable. To most people a hand on the shoulder would be absolutely fine but to others it’s an encroachment on personal space. I’m quite tactile (not in a sexual way, I hasten to add) so it’s quite possible I have encroached on someone’s personal space without realising it. Unless you never touch people at all, it’s quite possible you have done it too. Are you so sure that you haven’t, ever? If the person you encroached upon didn’t say anything, how would you ever know?

    As for the apology, there is a world of difference between saying “sorry I inadvertently infringed on your personal space” and saying “sorry for sexually harassing you”. He has apologised for the former, which the inquiry found him “likely” to be guilty of. He vehemently denies the latter, for which the inquiry (and the police) found there was insufficient evidence. Whatever happened to innocent til proven guilty? Isn’t that supposed to be kind of an important principle, especially for liberals? 

  • David Allen 21st Aug '14 - 1:14pm

    “My message to Rennard is simple, please go away, quietly.”

    I’m not criticising the poster, but, his message on its own is not enough. The Party needs to make it clear that it has merely decided against expulsion, and will allow Rennard to remain an ordinary member, only.

  • Eddie Sammon 21st Aug '14 - 1:23pm

    I agree with the strong response against defamatory remarks. There is a very small minority in the party who seem to regularly make hate-fuelled defamatory remarks and they need to be stopped.

    I don’t agree with much else, but the last paragraph is a good one. People say it is bullying, but the liberal lynch mobbers are experts at bullying, so I don’t think they can complain.

  • George Carpenter 21st Aug '14 - 1:29pm

    Does the leadership not realise how bad this makes their organisation look??
    The point of a political party, guys, is to get people to vote for it. Most people, particularly younger voters will not vote for a party perceived to be racist and misogynistic, despite what its values are supposed to be.
    No other organisation in this country would behave in this way, pretending that nothing is wrong, all we can hope for is that female LDs don’t leave and stay in order to effect change in party attitudes to women.

  • Matthew Huntbach 21st Aug '14 - 1:39pm

    Stephen Harte

    Accordingly, the tone of Lord Rennard’s statement greatly depresses me.

    Yes, when this case first surfaced, the allegations were made and a response like that given here was given, essentially “You can’t prove I did anything, so that’s it”, I too felt depressed and angry with Rennard.

    What caused me to get worked up in a different way about this issue, and to risk being accused of being some sort of woman-hater or someone who doesn’t treat sexual abuse seriously by attempting to make comments on it here (only some of which have been permitted to get through) which take a different line from what now seems to be the consensus were three things:

    1) What seemed to me to be an over-the-top attack on Rennard, in which the worst possible interpretation of what he was alleged to have done was taken to be absolute fact, and it seemed to me he was being denied the right to any sort of defence.

    2) The way this case was taken and used to attack our party and to make accusations made at all of us, as if there was something particularly rotten about our party which this case had revealed.

    3) The way in which much of the discussion in the media assumed that how this case should have been deal with was for the Leader of the party to have dictatorial powers to throw out from membership or influence any member against whom an accusation had been brought.

    On 1), yes if those allegations are accurate, and not just a misinterpretation of innocent moves and comments, I do very much regard what was done as unacceptable, particularly in the context in which it was done. However, I do take it as a level below what it would be had it been accompanied by promises of career rewards and threats of recriminations, which I don’t think (and please anyone correct me if I have missed it) there were. On those grounds I do think the greatest possible punishment – lifetime expulsion from the party – would be too much. I can just about see the defence line that innocent actions have been misinterpreted or exaggerated by his accusers, though I do also accept that if we have here four entirely independent accusers (and not a contrived plot) it stretches the boundaries of probability if one really wants to believe that. However, as this case rumbled on, I began to see how some of the over-the-top assumptions being made about Rennard in the media and from people who perhaps had a vested interest in doing him down, were denying him the right any accused has to a defence, and could have pushed him into a position where he felt had he made any sort of apologetic confession it would have led to the worst of the over-the-top accusations about his motivation sticking.

    I accept that unless it really is all a misinterpretation of innocent actions, how this case should have been resolved is that, yes, Rennard should be denied any role in which he would be left alone with women for the foreseeable future. But also that meetings with him and his accusers, with a third party present and mediating, should have been arranged in which there was a proper and frank discussion and a proper personal apology. That would surely have been the best resolution. I felt that the over-the-top and one-sided attacks that were being made on him and on the whole party over this issues had worked to stop this sensible mediation approach from being a possibility. So I did feel, and still feel, that the unsatisfactory conclusion to all this is not all Rennard’s fault and much of the blame falls also on those who have taken this case and made the over-the-top attacks, in many cases for political purposes.

    That leads to 2). I do think there is a genuine difficulty here which would be faced by any organisation which had a case where accusations were being made which boiled down to one person’s word against another. I resent the fact that this has not been recognised, and instead it’s been painted as if the difficulty in resolving it is down to anti-women attitudes which are particular to the Liberal Democrats. I’ve seen so many cases like this in so many other circumstances (not necessarily sexual harassment cases, but certainly allegations of other forms of bullying) where the sort of decent but informal apology that would actually have best resolved the situation doesn’t happen because legal advice is “if you give an inch, they’ll force you to give a mile”. I think there’s a serious general problem here, not a particular Liberal Democrat problem.

    On 3), we know how a case like this would be resolved in most organisations when it comes to paid employees. The lower-ranking person is forced out of their job regardless of who is the guilty party. The exception to this is when a lower-ranking person brings an accusation against a middle-manager and senior management don’t like that particular middle manager. As a democratic member-oriented party, we can’t and shouldn’t do it like this. I’m sorry if people looking on from outside can’t see this and so can’t see that due process has to be observed, and think there is something wrong when the Leader of the party can’t act as if he is the Boss of a company.

    If there was a facility for a member to be thrown out by the Leader without a right of defence on the mere presentation of an allegation, that facility COULD be seriously abused should we have a Leader who was trying to force the party, by foul means as well as fair, down a particular political route. There is a very serious point of principle here. I am not saying I believe that’s what’s happening here. However, like much constitutional stuff, it’s best to have the safeguards in place well before they ever have to be used, and that is why I think it’s important to be clear that we must preserve the right of anyone who is accused of doing something wrong within the party to be able to stand their ground and retain their democratic rights as a member.

  • The tone of the statement is a rather interesting one – it seems to be directed at those in the business of “publishing or broadcasting”. Do we know whether the statement was explicitly intended for publication? Perhaps someone at LDV could clarify on this point?

  • Tony Dawson 21st Aug '14 - 2:36pm

    Catherine, I am afraid you make a serious mistake. There has been no ‘Inquiry’ into whether these events happened or not. There has simply been inquiries as to whether or not there was sufficient evidence to commence an expulsion process based upon the ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ burden of proof – and, similarly, with respect to possible criminal prosecution. The ludicrous thing is I do not know a single person who ever believed either of those processes could turn out other than how they did :ie they were an effective waste of time and money.

    One of the alleged victims has alleged a form of deeply-intrusive and intimate unsolicited touching which could not take place accidentally in any circumstances. She has not had the opportunity to have that allegation tested – nor has Chris Rennard had the opportunity to defend himself against this and other allegations in a forum where the burden of proof would be the same as in an industrial tribunal ie ‘balance of probabilities’. That is the Party’s fault, as is permitting the ludicrous suspension for refusing to apologise for something which had not been established. We do not suspend people when serious legal processes hang over them but we do suspend them when there is an idiosyncratic reaction by someone senior to an unwelcome outcome of a process which was unlikely ever to be anything else. What does that make us look like? Stupid for doing it and even more stupid for later having to back down. 🙁

  • David Allen 21st Aug '14 - 3:23pm

    “There is a world of difference between saying “sorry I inadvertently infringed on your personal space” and saying “sorry for sexually harassing you”.”

    What’s wrong with “sorry I upset you / annoyed you / caused you distress”? And why didn’t the Party specify that that was the level of apology that was needed?

  • Excellent comment from Eduardo Reyes. Rennard doesn’t seem particularly interested in the impact of his actions and statements, either for the women he was inadvertent around or for the party he professes to love.

  • @Stewart

    Greater love hath no man than this.

  • Eduardo Reyes 21st Aug '14 - 4:11pm

    Just to go back to part of Catherine’s comment above – people have more trouble working out other folks’ personal space when they’ve not had it set for them. If no-one in authority helps you see where it is, and what is wrong, then it may be harder to establish that “range”. That’s why turning a deaf ear to harassment complaints does no one any favours.
    That’s true in a work context, and in a political party. If I received complaints as a manager about an employee or volunteer, I wouldn’t let the issue fester till the press and a few QCs were involved. That would be rubbish leadership.

  • David Evershed 21st Aug '14 - 4:32pm

    It seems to me to be generally good advice not to defame anyone from both a moral and personal finance view.

  • David Allen and others
    I don’t think it is up to the party, ie there are no sanctions which say “you can only remain an ordinary member”. You can, I believe say a person cannot stand for elected office for a particular period, or I am sure on state or Federal Committees. You can make it pretty damn hard to be an employee again – which, after all, was the role he was acting in, either as Director of Campaigns or Chief Exec, when he carried out (or not) the alleged behaviour.

  • Tony Dawson 21st Aug '14 - 5:12pm

    And that, Eduardo, is what we have had on this matter (and one or two other) 🙁

  • Peter Chegwyn 21st Aug '14 - 8:20pm

    I’m surprised that some people wish to continue this debate but as they do (and at the risk of continuing the debate still further) it’s worth noting that the Police inquiries and both party investigations concluded that there was insufficient evidence of any serious wrong-doing to take the allegations against Chris Rennard any further.

    That being the case the Party had little alternative but to withdraw Chris Rennard’s suspension and allow him back into the Party to which he has given a lifetime of service. The only wonder is that it took so long to reach this inevitable conclusion.

    As Keith House has said: “Right decision. Now let’s move on.”

  • Eduardo Reyes 21st Aug '14 - 10:23pm

    Peter, much intellectual capital has been expended on the question of if or how Chris Rennard might find a way back to party involvement. Next to none has been devoted to a route back to women who had a complaint. I hope you can see that “move on” sounds a bit like “shut up” in this context. Folk urged to “move on” need a better narrative. If it’s not provided, then for many, “move on” becomes “move out”. Which is exactly what is happening, and will continue to happen. The challenge for you, and others more senior in our party, is to find something to say that does not just sound like “shut up”. We march towards a great deal of gunfire in 2015. Now, for those tempted to go AWOL off the back off this episode, what do you have to write on s piece of paper to put through our letterbox? I’ve not read a form of words yet that meets the right standard, or even tries to. I joined the party in 1989, and am sad and disappointed by the asymmetry of the “move on” message.

  • Paul Turner 22nd Aug '14 - 7:50am

    I am an “ordinary” member of the party, and I don’t have a spokesman, so this comes from me. Lord Rennard’s reaction to this complaint tells me a lot, and I don’t feel that he should be allowed back, however a skilful manipulator he may be.
    I think his presence on any level representing the party would be both wrong, and disastrous.

  • Nick Tregoning 22nd Aug '14 - 9:09am

    “We must advise anyone against publishing or broadcasting defamatory remarks. Accusations that were rejected by both the Metropolitan Police and an independent QC would be treated as such.”

    I’ll say what I want, when I want, and to whom I want, thanks. Also like Nick Barlow, I’d appreciate some guidance about any other subjects which are now subject to gagging orders.

  • The party has had a wake up call on its internal procedures and will have no excuses for a repeat of this sorry affair in the future. Many in the House of Lords live on a different planet to the rest of us and I suggest we leave them there to get on with it. Let’s hope that in any future coalition discussions with either Labour or the Tories House of Lords reform is a red line in the negotiations.

  • Lord Rennard’s statement and warning about making defamatory remarks appears to be having an effect. I have looked at articles in The Guardian on line and it does seem that the moderators are more careful with what is posted there.

    Nick Tregoning can think and say what he likes, however as to where and when he may have to weigh up the possible consequences if it goes beyond fair comment.

    Lord Renard has consistently maintained that his actions have lacked any malicious or manipulative intent (irrespective of how his actions were perceived by complainants). If this is indeed the case, it is possible that some sort of exemplary legal action might be his most effective means of closing down this furore.

  • @ Catherine and Matthew Huntbach
    I think you’ve pretty much summed up how I feel about this. I’ve hoped from that start that the party would be both tough and fair over the CR allegations – but in an attempt to appease both sides they’ve ended up being neither. But now that the proces has run its course and CR found not to have a case to answer, it saddens me when many in pur part, without knowing the facts (and let’s be honest, there was good opportunity for anyone who did know the facts to present them to the inquiry) condemn CR as if an allegation is proof of guilt.

    It isn’t even clear that CR would have been found against had there been a civil standard of guilt. “Broadly credible” suggests there may have been a prima facie case to answer on a balance of probabilities, but it is not the same as True or even More than likely.

  • Martin Pierce 22nd Aug '14 - 10:22am

    I do find the tone of the original post astonishing, given Alistair Webster found the complaints ‘broadly credible’. One thing I also found surprising was a statement from Susan Gaszack this week that Alistair Webster did not actually meet and interview the complainants. Is that true? As there were only 4 of them (at least those that went public) I had always imagined that the lengthy and ‘thorough’ investigation would have included personal interviews?

  • Tony Rowan-Wicks 22nd Aug '14 - 10:54am

    Every party could be in a big hole with the issue of respect for its members, voters and general public – unless it was far-sighted enough to have a suitable complaints procedure as most good unions have already. Every party will be looking at its procedure again including to see if there can be a correct ending for everyone. Especially where there is no finite verdict for anyone. Yes, there can be finite statements but not everyone can be happy with them as they come out of a lack of the correct organisation. What a pity that those in positions of executive or leadership roles do not look at issues which will include themselves too. The whole issue is disappointing as all senior people should recognize – as we do!

  • All processes were paper based Martin, apart from the mediation… But I can’t talk about that.

  • Liberal Neil 22nd Aug '14 - 3:13pm

    @Martin – spot on. All the processes used were completely inappropriate for the matter at hand. The complaints were about inappropriate behavior/sexual harassment but the processes used were for a) criminal charges and b) expulsion.

    What was needed was an evidence finding inquiry approach with the aim of getting to some form of settlement, what we got was an adversarial approach with a criminal standard of proof that has left the original complaints unresolved and everyone on both sides feeling aggrieved.

  • Eleanor Scott 22nd Aug '14 - 5:30pm

    I resigned from the Party on the 30th June, having resigned from the Portsmouth Lib Dem Cabinet and Group in January over the Mike Hancock debacle.

    Eduardo Reyes is right to wonder where is the route back in for the women who are the collateral damage in these appalling cases. However I fear the answer is, there is no route. We are expendable, and of no no consequence compared to the political careers and ambitions of a certain clique and its followers.

    I went up to London from Portsmouth last June and back in March this year to meet with senior party figures, and still nothing has been done about my complaints and concerns.

  • Worrying Eleanor. There is much talk about better support from complainants etc but I don’t know what this is amounting to in practice. Certainly when I had a complaint (which led me to resign from the party) I didn’t feel that the support amounted to much than being told what the process was.

  • Matthew Huntbach 23rd Aug '14 - 7:02pm

    Eleanor Scott

    Eduardo Reyes is right to wonder where is the route back in for the women who are the collateral damage in these appalling cases. However I fear the answer is, there is no route. We are expendable, and of no no consequence compared to the political careers and ambitions of a certain clique and its followers.

    But this is simply not the case.

    It is quite clear that after this controversy, Rennard is never going to be given a leading role in the party again. Whatever the right and wrongs of his case, the public relations impact would simply be too damaging for that to be done. Whatever, his career as an influential member of the party is over.

    I think it is clear also that Rennard is not part of the clique that runs our party. He is associated with the old-style Liberal Democrats and Liberal Party before the Clegg coup. He is not associated with the Orange Book move to the economic right which most of those in leading positions in our party were part of. He was all about a bottom-up localised community-oriented approach to campaigning, the very opposite of the slick ad-man’s based image, with its concentration on the party’s national leader and policies, which is now being heavily pushed by those at the top of our party. I suspect to this sort, Rennard, with his reminder of the Liberal Democrats as they used to be when they did much better than they are doing now, was an embarrassment, and they are pleased to see him go. I think it very obvious that those who have been trying to put up some sort of defence of him are the losers, the people who have been pushed out of influence in the party following the Clegg coup. I don’t see anyone who is identifiably part of the Cleggie wing of the party coming here to try and argue against the “the man’s a monster, he should have been thrown out instantly” line.

    Media commentary has pushed the line that somehow Rennard was indispensable, a necessary part of the Liberal Democrats’ election success. I think that just shows how ignorant the media are of what is happening in the Liberal Democrats. Rennard and what he stood for have already been sidelined in the party, if anything, the clique running it had an interest in him being pushed out of influence so they could exert complete dominance, rather than retained. Many on the left of the party have also been critical of “Rennardism”, and have felt it was limiting the party, and we needed to move on from it (although not in the Clegg direction …). That is, I think he was a man whose influence was waining anyway.

    Once this case gained publicity, and the overwhelming media line was the “this man’s a monster” one, it was quite clear that if the party was to act cynically and without principles but in its best interest in purely promotional terms, what it needed to do was to fix things to get rid of the man completely, not to fix things to retain him.

    So I really hope it can be accepted that the suggestion that there was some sort of leadership conspiracy to retain him is nonsense. Rather, as I have already suggested, there is the genuine dilemma on how to deal with someone against whom serious accusations have been made, but who insists on his own innocence and where no proof of guilt can be found because it does come down to one person’s word against another. I really am sorry to see that outside a few old-time lefty losers in the party, no-one seems to be able to get this point, and our attempts to put it have been ignored. Does the principle of “innocent until proven guilty” mean nothing to modern liberals these days?

    You mention Mike Hancock as well, Eleanor. The evidence against him was much more clear, and what he provably did was much more serious. He deserves the punishment he has received. Yet he was always a thorn-in-the-flesh to the Cleggies, so again I think to suggest they had any interest in fixing things in his defence is wrong.

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