NORTH-EAST politicians have spoken out about the sexual harassment scandal threatening to engulf Westminster.

A number of the region’s MPs are backing calls to overhaul Parliamentary disciplinary procedures in the wake of bombshell allegations of sexual misconduct and inappropriate behaviour.

At the weekend, Theresa May called claims of sexual harassment in and around Westminster “deeply concerning” as she urged anyone affected to come forward.

She spoke after reports emerged of female employees at Westminster creating a WhatsApp group to warn members about the behaviour of MPs and other senior Parliamentary figures.

On Monday, a dossier came to light that allegedly named 36 Tory MPs and accused them of inappropriate behaviour, including sexual misconduct.

North West Durham MP Laura Pidcock said the problems coming to light at Westminster were echoed in workplaces across the world and were symptomatic of a society “that is violent towards women”.

Ms Pidcock called for changes to be implemented immediately to protect workers and politicians from harassment and abuse.

She said: “I have not been sexually harassed at Westminster, but I have faced sexism and people often think I’m someone’s wife or assistant. That’s s on the lower end of what would be considered offensive, but I can see how this institution creates that kind of environment.

“Sexual harassment in the workplace is endemic and where there are powerful people, that will be exacerbated. Parliament still runs from a male template, though it has improved over the years, it can be a masculine and cut-throat environment. I can see how that could lead to a culture where you don’t feel safe to speak out and where people could abuse power. There needs to be an independent body in place and a clear and transparent procedure implemented. There also needs to be more understanding of how abuse of power takes place – the only thing I’m surprised about is how this kind of thing has not come out before.”

Durham City MP Roberta Blackman-Woods added: “This is not about MPs, this is about a whole culture. A modern and professional working culture needs proper procedures in place. There needs to be an independent grievance process so that nobody is made to feel uncomfortable reporting sexual abuse, harassment or bullying and to ensure any concerns are properly investigated.”

North Durham MP Kevan Jones urged victims to report abuse. He said: “Until people come out with actual allegations then there is a lot of talk but not a great deal of facts.”

Simon Clarke, MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, welcomed moves towards a new code of conduct at Westminster. He said: “It’s hugely important we have a culture of professionalism and respect in Parliament. Any unwanted sexual behaviour is completely unacceptable. Where wrongdoing is established then people should be held to account.”

Darlington MP Jenny Chapman warned against allowing more trivial incidents to overshadow serious allegations of wrongdoing.

She said: “It is probably a very small number of individuals who need to face consequences but I suspect there are a lot of minor incidents that will get swept up in this. I do not want to suggest there is no issue to tackle, there obviously is, but I would not want anyone to feel that Parliament is not a good place to work. I welcome better transparency and if this resolves things that need to be resolved, that is a good thing.”