British Minister sent secretary to buy sex toys in Westminster scandal latest
Mark Garnier. Pic Evening Standard
London, Oct. 29, 2017 (AltAfrika)-There appears to be no end in sight over sex scandal currently rocking the British Parliament as serving Tory minister admitted he called his secretary “sugar t***” and sent her to buy sex toys for him.
International trade minister Mark Garnier is the latest to be caught up in the Westminster sexism storm, but described the two incidents as “good humoured high jinks” and “amusing conversation”.
According to a British tabloid, the Mail on Sunday, the junior minister strongly denied the two interactions constituted sexual harassment. He said he did not deny they happened and added he is “going to have to take it on the chin”.
The revelation comes after Downing Street warned that Prime Minister Theresa May would take “serious action” against any minister found to have acted inappropriately.
Meanwhile, former Conservative cabinet minister Stephen Crabb was reported to have admitted sending “explicit” messages to a 19-year-old woman after a job interview at Westminster.
It is the second time the married father, who is said to be a devout Christian, has reportedly sent explicit messages to a young woman after a first scandal in July last year.
Mr Garnier’s former secretary Caroline Edmondson told The Mail on Sunday he had given her the money to buy two vibrators at a Soho sex shop – one for his wife and one for a woman in his constituency office.
Ms Edmondson, who has since left to work for another MP, was quoted as saying that on another occasion in a bar, in front of witnesses, he told her: “You are going nowhere, sugar t***.”
The Mail reported that Mr Garnier had admitted the claims, saying: “I’m not going to deny it, because I’m not going to be dishonest. I’m going to have to take it on the chin.”
According to the paper, he said the “sugar t***” comment was part of an “amusing conversation” about the TV comedy Gavin and Stacey, while the sex toys were bought after a Christmas lunch.
“We bought some soap sets, that sort of stuff, scented candles. The vibrator shop was high jinks,” he is quoted as saying.
“I hung around outside and she went into this shop. That was it.”
The Mail said Mr Garnier had conceded that, in the current climate, his actions could look like “dinosaur behaviour”, but insisted: “It absolutely does not constitute harassment.”
In the case of Mr Crabb, the Mail said that he had sent “explicit” messages to a 19-year-old woman he interviewed for a job in 2013, when he was a Welsh minister.
The Welsh Conservative MP was quoted by the paper as saying he had been “foolish” but that there had been no sexual contact.
“We exchanged messages which talked about sex but none of it was meant seriously,” he was quoted as saying.
“We met for coffee a few times and had a glass of wine once at the Commons, but nothing more.
“I accept any kind of sexual chatter like this is totally wrong and I am sorry for my actions.”
Mr Crabb resigned last year as a cabinet minister following reports of a similar incident.
The reports come amid speculation at Westminster that at least four MPs have been caught up in various allegations of sexual misconduct.
Downing Street said such behaviour was “completely unacceptable” and urged women affected to report it to the police.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn warned of a “warped and degrading culture” where the abuse of women had gone unchallenged for too long.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove was forced to apologise on Saturday after a “clumsy” attempt at a joke in which he likened being interviewed by BBC presenter John Humphrys to “going into Harvey Weinstein’s bedroom”.
Additional reporting Evening standard