A lobbyist who was promised a peerage by a Lib Dem if she slept with him today revealed how he chased her around the kitchen during a campaign of pestering her for sex.
Lord Lester of Herne Hill, 82, also repeatedly grabbed Jasvinder Sanghera’s thigh instead of the gearstick of his car and allegedly told her: ‘If you sleep with me, I will make you a baroness within a year.’
Ms Sanghera, a campaigner against forced marriage, had been working closely with him as a bill passed through Parliament when he was 70 and she was 41.
But he allegedly became ‘obsessively attracted’ to the woman three decades his junior, repeatedly pestering her for sex.
On one occasion she agreed to stay with him and his wife at their £3million home after she missed her train following a late meeting but became so concerned for her safety she later barricaded herself inside his guest bedroom using a chair.
Describing what allegedly happened the next morning she said: ‘He came up behind me and put his arms around my waist. I pushed him away. Again, he placed his arms around me and further up my body. I had to force myself away. He pursued me around the kitchen and I pleaded with him to stop’.
TJasvinder Sanghera, 53, claimed that in the car journey Lord Lester of Herne Hill repeatedly grabbed her thigh instead of the gearstick, leaving her so concerned for her safety she later barricaded herself inside his guest bedroom using a chair
She added in a statement to the Commissioner for Standards: ‘In the car on the way to his house, he kept repeatedly missing the gearstick with his hand and instead very firmly placed his hand on my right thigh.
‘The first time it happened I thought it must’ve been an accident, but when it continued I realised it was not. I removed his hand and asked him to stop. He just smiled. He continued to grope my thigh for the length of the journey, despite my protests’.
Yesterday Lord Lester, who called the allegations a ‘pack of lies’, was warned he faces a record suspension from the House of Lords for the sexual harassment and could be barred from until June 2022 for breaching its behaviour code.
The Lords privileges and conduct committee yesterday found that Lord Lester had breached conduct codes by ‘sexually harassing the complainant and offering her corrupt inducements to sleep with him’.
It recommended that he is suspended until June 2022, which will be the longest suspension from Parliament in modern times if it is approved by peers in a vote on Thursday.
Supporters of Lord Lester last night suggested they could try to block the move in the Lords.
Lord Lester (file image) flatly denies the allegations against him, branding them ‘completely untrue’
The peer also rejected the allegations as ‘completely untrue’ and denounced the investigation – conducted by the Lords’ Commissioner for Standards, Lucy Scott-Moncrieff – as flawed.
Miss Sanghera, who has a partner and adult children, made claims about Lord Lester last November following the Westminster sex harassment scandal.
Waiving her anonymity, she told The Times that she did not make a complaint at the time because she thought her word against his was ‘not an equal contest’.
Lord Lester dismissed the allegations as a ‘pack of lies’ and said Miss Sanghera later signed a book for the peer thanking him for his ‘love and support’.
A report by the Lords’ sub-committee on conduct said the peer became ‘obsessively attracted’ to Miss Sanghera to the extent that he ‘completely lost all sense of judgment and propriety’. Lord Lester was a special adviser to Roy Jenkins in the 1970s and moved with him from Labour to help found the Social Democratic Party in 1981.
In a statement, he insisted the allegations were ‘completely untrue’ and claimed the ‘investigation was flawed’. A Liberal Democrat spokesman said the peer has been suspended from the party.
Lord Lester has claimed £9,485 in expenses since the accusations were levelled at him, the Daily Mirror reported last night.
‘He put his arms around me … I felt violated’
In her statement to the Commissioner for Standards, Jasvinder Sanghera said:
I attended a meeting followed by a meal in the House of Lords with a number of others including NGOs and Lord Lester. By the end of the meeting I had missed my intended train. I could have caught a later train but this would have meant arriving home sometime in the early hours of the following morning. Lord Lester suggested that I stay at his home in London. I initially said no as I did not wish to impose on his hospitality, but he insisted and said he would call his wife. Shortly after this he said he had telephoned his wife who is looking forward to meeting me, that his wife was at home and that she worked in an area that related to my work, and would love to meet me. I had no reason to be concerned about staying overnight, especially with his wife present and had by that time been working with him for a few months, and so I accepted his invitation.
In the car on the way to his house, he kept repeatedly missing the gearstick with his hand and instead very firmly placed his hand on my right thigh. The first time it happened I thought it must’ve been an accident, but when it continued I realised it was not. I removed his hand and asked him to stop. He just smiled. I felt incredibly uncomfortable knowing that I was on the way to staying at his house. He continued to grope my thigh for the length of the journey, despite my protests.
When we arrived at his house, we were greeted by his wife who had made tea for us. We chatted, and his wife told me she would bring me a cup of tea to my room in the morning. Lord Lester then said he would show me to my bedroom for the night. Once we had reached where I would be sleeping, he said it was not far from his bedroom, which he insisted on pointing out to me, saying he would not be far from me. This made me feel very uncomfortable, as his remarks and his earlier behaviour made me feel that he had other intentions notwithstanding my unequivocal rejection of his advances.
I went into my bedroom and immediately placed the chair under the door; I felt afraid, recalling what had happened in the car. I immediately called T, who had been a friend for many years. I was in the bedroom at this time and I told her what had happened and I felt trapped in his house. She advised me that I put the chair under the handle of the door, which I had placed as I feared Lord Lester might come into my room in the night and she suggested I leave first thing in the morning. I scarcely slept all night, sleeping fully clothed.
I removed the chair in the early hours of the morning as I knew his wife will be coming to bring me a cup of tea. This she did, and I then got ready and came down to leave for home.
By this time, his wife had left, it was only Lord Lester in the house and I went into the kitchen. I went over to place the crockery in the sink. It was then that he came up behind me and put his arms around my waist. I pushed him away. Again, he placed his arms around me and further up my body. I had to force myself away. He pursued me around the kitchen and I pleaded with him to stop. Once he stopped, I told him that I wished to leave. I wanted to call a cab, but he insisted that he went with me. I allowed him to, as I just wanted to get out of the house.
Once we got to the train station, he told me that he had strong feelings for me. I responded by saying I did not feel the same way. I said that he should know better as he had a wife. I made it very clear that I did not feel the same way and did not want to be involved with him in any way other than professionally. He persisted and told me that he loved me and said he could not help himself. I was relieved to get my train home, feeling uncomfortable and violated by this behaviour.
Report finds that ‘boorish’ male MPs groped and propositioned women
‘Boorish’ male MPs groped, lunged and propositioned women in Parliament, a damning report into the sexminster scandal revealed.
Dame Laura Cox said many MPs will be ‘horrified’ at the conduct of their colleagues.
Some male politicians were guilty of ‘predatory’ behaviour, the judge said.
Women who worked in Westminster complained that male MPs had touched their bottoms and breasts, patted their heads and had been abused in ‘vulgar gender-related terms’.
Dame Laura said: ‘The most serious allegations related to the alleged ‘predatory’ conduct of a few individuals, but overall the allegations indicate that sexual harassment has been a more widespread problem, and it crosses the political sphere.
‘All of the allegations were made against men. Some are no longer in the House but others continue to serve as elected Members.’
Some male MPs were so well known for their lewd advances that women were privately warned never to be in a room alone with them, the report said.
She added: ‘There were reports too of groups of male MPs becoming increasingly boorish on occasions when they were together, of frequent sexual innuendos, lewd comments or sexual gestures, or women repeatedly being asked questions about their sex lives, or about their personal lives generally, which they found offensive and humiliating.’
Dame Laura added: ‘Some men who came forward spoke of witnessing ‘some atrocious treatment of young women by MPs,’ and of ‘some women being treated as their personal servants, with veiled threats to have them moved if they failed to comply with requests.’
‘Some men also spoke of their shame, looking back now, that they had stayed silent at the time when such incidents occurred, and that they had not done more to help.’
Parliament was dominated by a ‘macho’ culture which saw some male employees – including some ‘serial predators’ – also target women.
The report states: ‘Young women graduates in their first job have been particularly shocked and upset by such treatment when ‘running the gauntlet’ in this way.’