A former Labour election strategy chief and boss of the People’s Vote campaign “has a case to answer” in regards to multiple allegations of sexual harassment, according to a report commissioned by a company he used to lead.
An inquiry conducted by the anti-Brexit European Movement group and seen by City A.M. lists a string of complaints against its former chief executive Patrick Heneghan, including that he allegedly groped one young female member of an affiliated organisation while also allegedly flirting with other staff members and trying to get them to take cocaine with him back at his flat.
The report concludes that Heneghan, who no longer works at the European Movement, would have “a disciplinary case to answer” if he was still with the company and that the allegations were of “a very serious nature”.
Heneghan says the claims against him are untrue and are motivated by a revenge plot, after he was installed as leader of the People’s Vote campaign by City PR tycoon Roland Rudd in a move that effectively split the anti-Brexit movement. He also believes the report is invalid as he was still technically self-employed while acting as the European Movement’s chief executive.
Heneghan was hired as chief executive of the People’s Vote, which fought for a second Brexit referendum, last November in what was described as a “boardroom coup” and “hostile takeover”.
The action created a civil war within the anti-Brexit campaign, with the large majority of staff members refusing to work under Heneghan and instead siding with the two men who had been ousted from the campaign’s leadership – former Ed Miliband communications chief Tom Baldwin and former Nick Clegg chief of staff James McGrory.
Heneghan was forced to take a lengthy leave of absence just days after his appointment, after it was exclusively revealed by City A.M. that he was facing sexual harassment allegations by members of staff.
Open Britain, the shell company for the People’s Vote campaign, found no wrongdoing by Heneghan in December last year after none of the complainants cooperated with an internal investigation.
The sexual harassment allegations date back to when the political consultant was chief executive of European Movement, which had close links to the People’s Vote campaign.
One unnamed woman said at an October 2019 “karoake event” that Heneghan asked her to do cocaine with her at his place and also “placed his hand on her bottom”.
A second unnamed woman said Heneghan had been “handsy” with her at the same event, before asking her if she wanted “to come back to mine to do some coke?”
In a third allegation, a young female member of People’s Vote said he asked her on a night out if he was “fit as f**k?”, before also asking her: “Do you want to come back to my flat with me?”
The anonymous woman claimed he “was being very flirty when he said it and was chewing on a straw and making eyes at her”.
The report also included screenshots of Whatsapp messages sent just days after two of the three alleged incidents that detailed the women’s individual stories.
A spokesperson for Heneghan denies the charges and says he has an “unblemished record”.
“Following two lawyer-led independent investigations it was found that there was no case for Mr Heneghan to answer and the matter was closed,” they said.
“There were no allegations of any type until the board sacked Mr Baldwin and Mr McGrory for gross misconduct, which led to a number of staff taking illegal strike action to try and get them reinstated.
“Anonymous allegations about Mr Heneghan were then leaked to the press…[and] Mr Heneghan’s ex wife was contacted and asked is she would give any details of their divorce that could be used in the ‘war’ against Mr Heneghan and Open Britain.”
Open Britain, who found that Heneghan did not have a case to answer, said: “Open Britain takes allegations of inappropriate behaviour seriously.
“No allegations were made before Mr Heneghan’s appointment and an independent investigation found he had no case to answer.”