Former Liberal Democrat comms chief criticised in Morrissey Report

Former Liberal Democrat head of comms Jonny Oates has come in for criticism in the independent report into the party's handling of sexual harassment complaints.

Lib Dem chief of staff: Jonny Oates
Lib Dem chief of staff: Jonny Oates
Oates, who is currently chief of staff for the party, was director of electoral campaigns when The Daily Telegraph sent details of specific allegations from women about party members to him on 30 April 2010.

The report, which was authored by businesswoman Helena Morrissey, concluded that Oates could have been clearer about party leader Nick Clegg’s awareness of the situation. It stated:

‘Oates’ denial of Clegg’s awareness was more black-and-white than the reality of the situation. While it was technically true that Clegg was unaware of the specific alleged incidences as detailed by the newspaper in its correspondence with him, Oates could have made it clear that Clegg was aware of several anonymous, "non-specific" allegations.’

Oates was director of communications and policy for the party before moving to Bell Pottinger Public Affairs in 2008.

The Telegraph said that after taking legal advice it did not publish details of the allegations as none of the women wished to make public their concerns at the time.

The report was commissioned by the party in the wake of a number of women coming forward to complain about the behaviour of former party chief executive Lord Rennard, who denies the allegations.

A Liberal Democrat spokesman said: ‘We accept the report and its findings in full.’

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