Former Hartlepool MP accuses staffer of pursuing sexual harassment claim out of ‘vengeance’

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Former Labour MP for Hartlepool Mike Hill is facing a sexual harassment claim at an employment tribunal (UK Parliament)
Former Labour MP for Hartlepool Mike Hill is facing a sexual harassment claim at an employment tribunal (UK Parliament)

A former Labour MP has said his ex-parliamentary staffer is only bringing a sexual harassment case against him out of revenge.

Mike Hill, who served as Hartlepool’s MP from 2017 until earlier this year when he resigned, has already admitted earlier he did want a relationship with the woman, known only as Ms A, but denied harassing her when she rebuffed him.

Mr Hill was asked during the tribunal proceedings whether his efforts to change Ms A’s line manager and threats to fire her after she rejected his advances showed he was trying to take revenge on her.

“I am not a vengeful person, the only vengeful person in the room is the claimant," he said in response.

Ms A claims the 57-year-old carried out a campaign of sexual harassment and bullying against her for 16-months while he was in office. She also alleges the former MP groped her and rubbed his penis against her body in his London flat.

Samuel Nicholls, for the claimant, accused Mr Hill of “drip feeding" information about Ms A to other members of his parliamentary staff to imply she was not capable of doing her job.

Ms A, who has struggled with anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, also claims her former boss switched who was her line manager in an effort to undermine and belittle her.

But Mr Hill rejected this, saying the personnel changes were about trying to improve the efficiency of his office. He also insisted a texted message ordering Ms A to clear her desk and quit was an empty threat he did not follow through on.

His alleged victim also claims Mr Hill refused to increase her £45,000 salary vindictively after she rebuffed him.

"Had the claimant not rejected your advances, had she succumbed, you would have found a way to give her that pay rise," Mr Nicholls said.

"There was no relationship and that is not true," Mr Hill replied.

Although the former MP denied he and Ms A were ever in a relationship, the tribunal has already heard evidence he had been romantically interested in her.

He had sent her texts telling her he "craved" her body, was "in love" with her and described himself as being "emotionally f*****".

Mr Hill was suspended from the Labour Party in September 2019 over the allegations, but was reinstated in October of that year to fight the general election.

He resigned from his seat in March, triggering the by-election that saw the former red wall seat of Hartlepool swing dramatically to the Conservatives.

The tribunal, which is due to conclude on Wednesday, continues.

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