ALLEGATIONS of sexual abuse and harassment in Westminster have come as no surprise, according to a Bolton MP.

Yasmin Qureshi says that, while she has not experienced harassment herself, more needs to be done to stop ‘unacceptable’ behaviour.

Prime Minister Theresa May will meet other party leaders next week to agree plans on tackling the issue.

The Bolton South East MP said: “Personally, I have not experienced any problems myself. But I am sure that others have.

“What is important is that we have proper, robust procedures in place to deal with these allegations and ensure they are investigated fully.

“Whether it is Westminster, Hollywood, or wherever, these allegations do not surprise me.

“I have been arguing for years that wherever you have one person in a position of power and others who are vulnerable then there may be unscrupulous people who take advantage of that.”

Mrs May has ordered an inquiry into claims made against her deputy, Damian Green, after he became the most senior politician yet to be caught up in a tide of allegations and rumours.

The investigation was launched after activist Kate Maltby claimed that Mr Green ‘fleetingly’ touched her knee during a meeting in a pub in 2015, and a year later sent her a ‘suggestive’ text message.

Meanwhile, Labour has launched an independent inquiry into claims that activist Bex Bailey was discouraged by a party official from reporting an alleged rape on the grounds it might damage her political career.

Ms Qureshi added: “Touching someone’s knee is not at the highest level of sexual assault, but it is still pervy, creepy behaviour. It is not the way to behave and I would be disappointed in anyone who thinks it is.

“It may not be so serious that you take that matter to the police, but to say that it doesn’t constitute inappropriate behaviour would be wrong. As a society, we need to educate people. I hope that these revelations will make more people realise that this behaviour is not acceptable.”

Former Bolton West MP Julie Hilling added: “I think there is still a bit of a lads’ culture in Parliament. I have seen men making bosom gestures when a women gets up to speak. But I have not witnessed or experienced anything more than that.

“You do have to be careful not to conflate consensual relationships with abuse, but I am sure people aren’t making it up.

“We really need to question how people are employed. Maybe they should be employed by their political party, not by the MP.

“People also need to have an independent place they can go to and make these kind of complaints and an independent panel that will listen to the grievances.”