Lib Dems must take a 'long, hard look in the mirror' admits Clegg as party is rocked by twin scandals

  • Nick Clegg forced to defend party amid claims of two cover-ups
  • Admits 'massive regrets' over handling of Lord Rennard scandal
  • Calls for inquiry into what Vince Cable knew of claims against Chris Huhne

By Gerri Peev and James Chapman

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Regrets: Nick Clegg admitted he had 'massive regrets' over the handling of sexual harassment claims made against Lord Rennard

Regrets: Nick Clegg admitted he had 'massive regrets' over the handling of sexual harassment claims made against Lord Rennard

Nick Clegg conceded the Lib Dems need to take a ‘long, hard look in the mirror’ last night as the party was forced to defend itself from cover-up claims in twin scandals.

In a nightmarish start to the party’s spring conference, Business Secretary Vince Cable had to deny claims that Chris Huhne’s ex-wife told him of his crime long before it was made public.

The Deputy Prime Minister, meanwhile, suggested he had ‘massive regrets’ over the handling of complaints of sexual harassment against former chief executive Lord Rennard when claims by alleged victims were swept under the carpet.

Yesterday there were calls for an inquiry into emails released after the conviction of Vicky Pryce for perverting the course of justice on Thursday, in which she claimed she had confided in Mr Cable two years ago.

Mrs Pryce, who will be sentenced alongside Mr Huhne on Monday, said she had told the Business Secretary and his wife Rachel over dinner she had taken her husband’s speeding points.

Mr Cable firmly denied the claims as he arrived at the Brighton conference last night.

‘My wife and I are absolutely clear that we knew nothing about the evidence that has emerged in this trial,’ he insisted.

That did not prevent Labour calls for an inquiry into what Mr Cable and other senior Lib Dems knew of the claims against Mr Huhne.

Labour MP Steve McCabe said: ‘Strange how no one at top of Lib Dems is ever told anything, remembers anything or does anything when something serious happens in their midst.’

Tory Party vice-chairman Michael Fabricant twisted the knife further, writing on Twitter: ‘So if there was a conspiracy of silence at top of the Lib Dem Party re Huhne, will the CPS  [Crown Prosecution Service] regard THAT as perverting the course of justice?’

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The Huhne affair followed allegations of inappropriate behaviour against Lord Rennard – which he strongly denies. Mr Clegg, told a conference to mark International Women’s Day, yesterday that ‘clearly something went very wrong’ in the party.

He said that many women had ‘felt they weren’t listened to’.

‘That’s clearly a very serious failure. I’ve got massive regrets.’ He has appointed City fund manager and mother-of-nine Helena Morrissey to oversee an independent investigation into the party’s treatment of the women’s complaints.

Jo Swinson, the Lib Dems’ women’s minister, was pressed again on when she had known about the allegations surrounding Lord Rennard.

Clearly rattled, she said that reporters should read her statement, insisting she had taken the claims ‘very seriously’.

Business Secretary Vince Cable has faced claims that Vicky Pryce told hm about her ex-husband's crimes two years before it was made public

Business Secretary Vince Cable has faced claims that Vicky Pryce told hm about her ex-husband's crimes two years before it was made public

She told one reporter that she should treat the issue with ‘a little more respect’ before firmly closing a door.

Mr Clegg later took the unusual step of addressing the controversy at a conference rally for activists. He denied the Lib Dems were in crisis but conceded they had ‘let people down’. He said it was ‘right that – following the events of recent weeks – we take a long, hard look in the mirror’.

He said he did not want to discuss specific allegations of sexual harassment in the party but said: ‘The women involved …deserved to have their concerns and allegations examined thoroughly and properly dealt with. Clearly, that has not always been the case.’

He said the party as a whole should have addressed the concerns. ‘We didn’t, and as a result we let people down.’

Huhne and Pryce are both expected to be jailed when they are sentenced together at Southwark Crown Court on Monday.

 

The comments below have not been moderated.

Nick Clegg has been forced defend his party****Sorry Nick you cannot defend the indefensible. The party you belong to is just a vacuous bucket of cr*p.

Click to rate     Rating   3

You can tell when nick clegg and vince cable are lying, their lips move.

Click to rate     Rating   4

The Liberals ! A dead horse party for decades suddenly revived in the 1980's when they hijacked the deluded members of the Social Democrats and finally rediscovered as the same organisation devoid of meaningful policies and led by men who still don't seem to accept that at the last election they were the people's 3rd choice. Next time they won't even be in the frame. Good bye Liberals !

Click to rate     Rating   2

Lib Dims don't have mirrors on their walls - just framed maps of Europe...

Click to rate     Rating   17

They're finished, and good ridance..Vote for UKIP.

Click to rate     Rating   27

The Libdems should of backed Labour at the last election and pushed through PR Labour and the Libdems share of the vote as over 50% so no one could say they didn't represent the majority of the people. UKIP is the best thing to happen to UK politics, why? Because it shows just how small the minority is for those who want out of the EU is, you can say you have the majority all you like but doesn't make it true. I'd raither be in the EU than allied to the like of Iran, Venezuela, North Korea, Assad's Syria and Cuba which is what UKIP will do, and they will hand over the Falklands tribute to their NWO master right away.

Click to rate     Rating   15

Why does anyone believe a word Vicky Pryce has said? She tried to implicate an innocent woman over the points taking. Why should she be telling the truth over what she claims to have told Cable or Mrs Clegg or anyone else?

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I lib dems look long and hard in the mirror they would give themselves a terrible fright.

Click to rate     Rating   21

A morally bankrupt politician is easy to spot, they use SPIN, which is another name for creative lying.

Click to rate     Rating   25

I hope those mirror will be made from plastics. They must not be allowed to litter the place with shards of broken glass.

Click to rate     Rating   17

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