Feb 27 2013
Nick Clegg has conceded that his party made "very serious mistakes" in failing to deal properly with complaints of sexual harassment against its then chief executive Lord Rennard.
The Deputy Prime Minister continued to insist that he was personally unaware of any specific allegations by women in the party until they were broadcast by Channel 4 last week.
But he suggested that the issue was "in the background" when the peer - who strenuously denies the alleged inappropriate behaviour - retired from his senior role on grounds of ill-health.
"There were some very serious mistakes and the women were not listened to and were let down," Mr Clegg said as he was grilled on the controversy during his weekly phone-in on LBC 97.3 radio.
"I so much believe that it is crucial that you treat people with respect and dignity in everything you do - and that is what I expect of people in the organisation I lead.
"That, clearly, did not happen here, to put it mildly."
Mr Clegg said an email sent to a senior aide by the Daily Telegraph shortly before the 2010 election setting out detailed allegations "was not passed on to me".
And he insisted that a face-to-face conversation with then MP Sandra Gidley soon after he became leader in 2007 had been "of a general nature".