SIXTY female MoD civil servants claim they have been sexually assaulted and harassed by ‘toxic and hostile’ male colleagues in damning accusations
- Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said to be utterly appalled by the reports
There is a ‘toxic’ and ‘hostile’ culture within the Ministry of Defence, it has been claimed, with allegations women are ‘groped’ by male colleagues and rated on an Excel spreadsheet by military officers on ‘what they thought they’d be like in bed’.
Sixty senior women wrote an ‘official-sensitive’ marked letter to the MoD’s permanent secretary David Williams last month alleging sexual assault and harassment within the ‘male-dominated’ Government department.
The women say their ‘day-to-day professional lives are made difficult’ due to the behaviour of male colleagues which is ‘tolerated at the MoD’.
It has left them feeling unsafe and uncomfortable to work at the MoD’s headquarters in Whitehall, they say.
Grant Shapps was said to be utterly appalled by the allegations with a spokesperson for the Defence Secretary saying there was ‘no place for this 1970s behaviour’.
Defence Secretary Grant Shapps was said to be utterly appalled by the allegations with a spokesperson saying ‘no place for this 1970s behaviour’
The letter, seen by The Guardian, goes on to list a series of troubling allegations with a woman claiming she was ‘groped’ at a social function but was advised against complaining.
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Another alleged a senior officer repeatedly touched her on the lower back and legs. He was never punished.
‘We are spoken over during meetings, we are subject to pejorative language, we receive unwanted attention and face sexual harassment, including intrusive staring, sexualised comments, running commentary about what we wear, how we look, and how we smell,’ the group said in the letter.
Military officers where also accused of keeping an Excel spreadsheet which rated female colleagues on how attractive they were and how good they thought they were in bed.
One woman told in the letter how a sexual advance from a senior military official had ‘shattered my confidence’.
‘I hate having to say this, I couldn’t help but question whether it was my fault: what is it about me that made this man think he could do this?’ she said.
The group says women are crying in the bathroom and described being ‘sick with fear’.
The group of women wrote a letter to the department’s permanent secretary David Williams last month in which they say they feel unsafe and uncomfortable to work at the MoD’s headquarters in Whitehall (pictured)
The MoD said in a statement: ‘We are deeply concerned by the complaints made and we are taking action to tackle the issues raised.
‘No woman should be made to feel unsafe in Defence and this behaviour will not be tolerated. We also continue to encourage anyone who has experienced or witnessed this kind of inexcusable behaviour, to report it immediately.’
The group has called for immediate action to be taken and a ‘properly resourced external intervention’.
A spokesperson for Mr Shapps said: ‘There is absolutely no place for this kind of 1970s behaviour in the modern workplace, and he wants to see the department taking swift and certain action to root it out.’
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