[Jess Phillips: ... According to an investigation by the magazine Elle, a student alleged she was sexually assaulted and then endured terrible treatment from the university relating to her claim of violence. Post-graduation, she complained to the university about how it had handled her situation. She was eventually offered £1,000 compensation, without any admission of wrongdoing, and with a non-disclosure agreement to prevent her from talking about it. The student, exhausted by her experiences, signed the NDA.]
Dr Julian Lewis rose –
Alicia Kearns rose –
Jess Phillips: It does not seem very feminist, but I will give way to the right hon. Gentleman.
Dr Lewis: I have not heard of this case before. Did the student not go to the police? If she did, what happened?
Jess Phillips: I almost wish for the right hon. Gentleman’s sake that I had taken the other intervention. Has he seen the figures on police rape recording and reporting? In the first instance that I was talking about, the individual absolutely went to the police. Of the 66,000 women – I am speaking only about women now; there will have been more – who came forward and said that they had been raped last year, a charge will have been faced in about 600 of those cases; and then look at the number of convictions. Are we expecting our institutions, our workplaces, our university institutions not to have a role to play in supporting people when that has happened? As I am sure the right hon. Gentleman know, the balance of probability has a different relation to civil law than criminal law, so the idea that if a woman did not go the police she should not be allowed to complain to her institution is not one that I recognise and it is not one that this House recognised when we set up an independent complaints system. However, what often gets said to women when they come forward to their employer, to their institution, is, “Why didn’t you tell the police?”
... I took part in a debate on the television the other day about freedom of speech. A Government Member of Parliament, who I like and respect, turned to me and said, “The thing is, Jess, that no one can be forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement” – I just said my own name. Is that allowed? I don’t have to refer to myself as the hon. Member for Birmingham, Yardley?
Dr Lewis: It was a quote.