Political parties must tear up their rule books and re-write them if they want to rid themselves of sexual predators, a leading criminal lawyer has said.
Nick Freeman, aka Mr Loophole, made the call after an internal Liberal Democrat Party investigation found claims of sexual misconduct by its peer, Lord Rennard, were “broadly credible”, but could be not proved beyond doubt.
Alistair Webster, QC, who conducted the review, concluded that although the lord’s behaviour had not only caused “distress and violated the personal space and autonomy of the complainants”, there was not enough proof he had acted with “indecent intent”.
Mr Freeman, whose clients include David Beckham and Sir Ranulph Fiennes, said: “This is a clear case where the Party’s constitution should be changed immediately so that the burden of proof is the balance of probability.
“Mr Webster found that the claims against Lord Rennard were broadly credible, but, because he was applying the criminal and not the civil definition, he could not sure.
“Despite some very damning conclusions, no further action will be taken against the peer of the realm because that the Liberal Democrat rule book restricts itself to the criminal burden.
“This decision not to take further action could countenance the behaviour of a sexual predator. The alleged victims should consider pursuing a civil case against Lord Rennard which would be tried in a civil court on the balance of probability.
“Politics has sunk to a new low if it allows probable sexual predators to remain as party members.”
Mr Freeman added: “In 1995 OJ Simpson was acquitted in a criminal court of murdering his wife and her friend, yet two years later a civil jury unanimously found Simpson liable for the wrongful death of and battery against the friend and battery against his wife.
“That being the case, OJ Simpson would make a very good bed fellow for the Liberal Democrats.
“If politicians are serous in their desire to re-embrace the public they need to rigorously clean up their act.”
For Further Information, please contact:
Nick Freeman, 0161 236 7007/ 07778 159 882
David Simister, Different PR, on 0845 389 26 26 / 07870 550 760