As the allegations against Lord Rennard continue to emerge – and confusion continues over who knew what, and when, here is a timeline of the allegations, according to The Telegraph’s correspondence from 2010, and Cathy Newman’s Channel 4 News report from the 21st February 2013.
Bridget Harris, who left her position as Clegg’s Spad just a few months ago, alleges that Rennard behaved in an ‘inappropriate’ manner, touching her legs three times whilst having coffee at a conference in Swansea in 2003. He then invited her up to his room, an incident which she then reported to her line managers.
At an ‘away day’ in Peterborough, in 2004, Lord Rennard allegedly invited an intern to a Lib Dem MP up to his room. He then ‘propositioned her’, after which she fled in tears into a large group including senior party officials – an incident which allegedly then became known as the ‘Peterborough incident’.
September: At the Lib Dem party conference in Bournemouth, Rennard is said to have ‘intimately groped’ a female Lib Dem PPC, while posing for a group photograph.
Prior to the general election, two women PPCs – including one who the Channel 4 report named as the politics lecturer Alison Smith – were allegedly locked inside Rennard’s home after a dinner, told to ‘go upstairs’, and were only released when one threatened to call the police.
January 7th: Charles Kennedy steps down as leader of the Lib Dems.
2nd March: Sir Menzies Campbell is elected as party leader.
15th October: Menzies Campbell resigns as leader. Vince Cable takes up acting leadership of the party.
18th December: Cable steps down, and Nick Clegg becomes party leader.
At a party in December 2007 to celebrate Clegg’s triumph in the leadership election, Rennard once again groped the PPC that he had groped in 2004, it is claimed.
This is when Clegg now admits to being first made aware of some ‘indirect and non-specific’ rumours surrounding Lord Rennard. He claims that Danny Alexander then spoke to Rennard with regards the allegations, and warned him about his behaviour.
September: A ‘senior member’ of the Lib Dem’s national committee claims to have personally informed Clegg of the allegations, to which he replied that he ‘would deal with it’.
October: An email was sent to women in the Liberal Democrat party, stating that: ‘there has been a long-standing problem with a number of women where the abuse of Chris [Lord Rennard]’s position was clearly inappropriate.’ It goes on to say that Jo Swinson had informed the campaigns officer that Rennard had been informed by a senior member of the party that ‘the behaviour has to stop’.
May: Rennard resigned as Chief Executive of the Lib Dems in May 2009, citing ill health. However, these tweets between Norman Smith of the BBC and Jason Beattie of the Mirror, highlight the fact that Rennard left his job ‘shortly after’ he received the warning about his behaviour.
30th April: The Daily Telegraph wrote to Jonathan Oates, who was then the Lib Dem Director of Communications, detailing the above allegations, and asking for a response.
The paper also asked whether it was correct that the allegations had previously been ‘brought to the personal attention of Nick Clegg’, and stated that both Jo Swinson MP and Danny Alexander (then Clegg’s Chief of Staff) had helped in an investigation into Rennard’s behaviour.
30th April : Jonathan Oates replied that it was ‘untrue’ that Clegg was aware of the allegations, and again untrue that an investigation had taken place. The Telgraph decide not to run the story, following advice from their legal team.
21st February: Channel 4 News broadcast their report into the ‘allegations of sexual impropriety’ against Lord Rennard, which they claim occurred over a number of years.
21st February: The Liberal Democrats launched an internal review into how they handle allegations of sexual impropriety.
February 22nd: Channel 4 News reported that two more women had come forward with allegations against Lord Rennard.
February 24th: Nick Clegg stated that he knew of general concerns surrounding Rennard’s behaviour, but only became aware of the specific allegations after Channel 4 News approached him with them, ‘shortly before they were broadcast’.
February 24th : Danny Alexander makes a statement, saying that he: ‘did not know about these specific allegations until the Channel 4 broadcast.’