British Prime MinisterTheresa May gives a speech at 10 Downing Street after meeting with the Queen in London, Britain on June 9, 2017. (Xinhua/Richard Washbrooke)
LONDON, Oct. 30 (Xinhua) -- British Prime Minister Theresa May ordered an investigation on late Sunday after the Houses of Parliament were hit by a wave of complaints of inappropriate conduct by politicians.
May's intervention came after British weekly newspaper the Mail on Sunday reported that International Trade Minister Mark Garnier had admitted sending his secretary to a store in London's Soho district to buy sex toys.
Complaints about inappropriate conduct by Members of Parliament (MP) have emerged in the wake of the Hollywood scandal which erupted after allegations against famous film producer Harvey Weinstein.
Jeremy Hunt, secretary of state for health, was quizzed about the allegations against politicians on a Sunday morning political program on national television, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) said.
Hunt said reports about inappropriate behavior by MPs and government ministers were totally unacceptable if true.
He added that the working culture at Westminster has got better in recent years, but there is still some way to go.
Hunt told the BBC that the prime minister has asked the Cabinet Office to look at whether Garnier's reported actions broke a ministerial behavior code.
May is also writing to the speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, calling for a new contractually-binding grievance procedure to be set up for all MPs and their staff.
Garnier's former secretary, Caroline Edmondson, told the Mail on Sunday that Garnier had given her money to buy two vibrators at a Soho sex shop.
The Mail reported that 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."
Meanwhile, the Sunday Telegraph newspaper reported that the former Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb had admitted sending explicit messages to a 19-year-old woman after a job interview at Westminster in 2013.
The newspaper quoted Crabb as being "foolish" but said there had been no sexual contact with the woman, though he also admitted the two had met several times.
"I accept any kind of sexual chatter like this is totally wrong and I am sorry for my actions," Crabb told the newspaper.
In an article in the Mail on Sunday, Labor MP John Mann wrote, "It must be a wake-up call for Westminster. A number of us have been warning the parliamentary authorities for some time that the problem of male MPs who prey on young interns, secretaries, advisers and others, has been swept under the carpet for too long."
"For decades, men working in the halls of power have been able to get away with the kind of sexually inappropriate behavior that could land them in court if it occurred outside the closed world of politics," Mann added.
The Labor politician said he had raised this issue at a public hearing of the House of Commons Committee on Standards last year, when he said it was well known that female members of staff had been sexually harassed by male MPs -- including current MPs.
However, nothing had been done about it "because the victims believed that no one would listen to their complaints," Mann said.
The claims of misbehavior within politics follow the setting-up of an app on smartphones by women working in the Palace of Westminster to share their experiences. Their action came after women in the film industry shared their experiences of male misbehavior towards women in a similar way.