NICK Clegg was last night forced to admit he was aware of sexual harassment claims made against a senior Liberal Democrat official four years ago, as the growing scandal engulfed his party.
The Deputy Prime Minister cut short his holiday to deal with the crisis after several women alleged they had been molested by Lord Rennard, the party’s former chief executive and key strategist.
Rennard denies any wrongdoing.
Clegg’s team had previously insisted he was unaware of allegations against the peer until they were aired by Channel Four on Thursday. But yesterday the Lib Dem leader admitted acting on “indirect and non-specific concerns” about Rennard back in 2008.
Clegg said that at the time he instructed his chief of staff Danny Alexander – now chief secretary to the Treasury – to put the allegations to the peer, who denied them. Rennard subsequently resigned on health grounds.
“As my office only received concerns indirectly and anonymously, as those involved understandably wanted to maintain their privacy, there was a limit to how we could take this matter forward following Chris Rennard’s resignation,” Clegg said yesterday.
Last night ITV News and The Telegraph alleged that a senior official personally told Clegg about the allegations in September 2008.