NEWS DESK: Downing Street has been dragged into the Westminster sexual harassment scandal after a well-known writer claimed one of David Cameron’s officials groped her, reported The Independent.
Daisy Goodwin, who wrote hit TV show Victoria, said that she had immediately called out the official, saying: “Are you actually touching my breast?”
She alleged that the incident occurred after the man “summoned” her to No 10 to discuss an idea for a television programme.
The claim takes the harassment scandal to the heart of power in British politics, after weeks which have already seen a cabinet minister’s career end over inappropriate behaviour and allegations of rape made in three different parties.
Describing what the man did during the meeting “a few years ago”, she said: “To my surprise he put his feet on my chair (we were sitting side by side) and said that my sunglasses made me look like a Bond girl.
“I attempted to turn the conversation to turning exports into unmissable TV. At the end of the meeting we both stood up and the official, to my astonishment, put his hand on my breast.
“I looked at the hand and then in my best Lady Bracknell voice said, ‘Are you actually touching my breast?’”
She went on to say how the official “dropped his hand and laughed nervously”, before she left “cross” but not traumatised.
Ms Goodwin relayed her allegation in an article for the Radio Times, published on Tuesday, in which she told how she had been “summoned to Downing Street during the Cameron administration” to talk to the official about a potential TV show.
She said she first met the man in question at a dinner, after which he had contacted her by email inviting her to No 10.
Without naming him, the 55-year-old writer described the individual as “a few years younger than me”, adding that on arrival at Downing Street he had taken her to a room “dominated by a portrait of Mrs [Thatcher] and we sat at a table carved, he told me, from one piece of wood.”
Ms Goodwin said it had not occurred to her to report it at the time and that instead she concluded that such things did happen and that the experience helped her learn how to deal with them.
But she explained that, in light of the harassment scandal that has taken hold of Westminster, she thought again, in particular because she feared the man may have tried something similar with someone who may not have been in a position to speak out.
No 10 said on Monday that it takes allegations of inappropriate behaviour “very seriously” and would task the Cabinet Office to launch an investigation if a formal complaint is made.
It is almost two weeks ago now that Sir Michael Fallon stepped down as Defence Secretary admitting that his behaviour in the past had fallen below expected standards.
He admitted touching one female journalist’s knee and faced a claim that he had made a “lunge” and tried to kiss another.
Fellow cabinet minister Damian Green faces a Cabinet Office investigation after being accused by a journalist of making inappropriate advances, something he denies.
Labour activist Bex Bailey has alleged that she was raped at a party event by an official more senior than her, meanwhile Conservative and Liberal Democrat members have also made allegations of rape.
Conservative MP Charlie Elphicke has been suspended from his party pending an investigation into “serious allegations”. He denies any wrongdoing.
Minister Mark Garnier is also being investigated after admitting asking a secretary to buy him two sex toys and referring to her in a sexual inappropriate manner.
Labour MP Clive Lewis denies groping a female party member at this year’s Labour conference, and fellow Labour member Kelvin Hopkins also denies inappropriately rubbing himself on a female party member to whom he had sent text messages.
Scottish childcare minister Mark McDonald has resigned after admitting “inappropriate behaviour”.
An inquest has heard that the death of sacked Welsh Labour minister Carl Sargeant was “an apparent act of self-harm” after allegations of misconduct were made against him, which he denied.