Jewish MP Ivan Lewis has denied that he sexually harassed a teenager but has nevertheless apologised for his behaviour, after he became the latest politician to be accused of sexual harassment.
Lewis, who represents Bury South, said he had “never made non-consensual sexual comments or sexual advances to women” but acknowledged that “a few women have claimed that my behaviour made them feel uncomfortable”.
It follows claims from a woman who said Lewis repeatedly stroked her leg at a constituency fundraiser before asking her to go back to his house when she was 19.
Lewis said: “I have on occasion asked women I work with out for drinks or dinner, or developed strong feelings for them, and I am genuinely sorry if this was unwelcome or inappropriate in the circumstances, and caused anyone to feel awkward.”
This is the second time that father-of-two Lewis, 50, has had to apologise for his behaviour towards women, after it emerged that he sent a series of suggestive messages to a 25-year old aide in 2008. She later asked to be reassigned.
Lewis is the latest MP to be caught up in an avalanche of accusations of sexual harassment. The flurry – triggered in solidarity with the victims of disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein – has already claimed the scalp of Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon.
Last month, the new chair of Conservative Friends of Israel, Stephen Crabb MP, admitted sending sexually explicit messages to a 19-year old woman who had come in for a job interview.
Crabb, 44, a devout Christian who is married, admitted “sexual chatter,” saying he had been “foolish,” after a friend of the woman said she had seen Crabb’s messages, in which he said he wanted to have sex with her and kiss her “all over”.
It is the second time Crabb, who ran for the Tory leadership last year, has been forced to apologise for his behaviour towards women, and a Cabinet Office inquiry is to examine the MPs’ behaviour.