Former Labour MP admits wanting sexual relationship with parliamentary worker
A former Labour MP admitted he wanted a sexual relationship with a parliamentary worker despite being married at the time, a tribunal has heard.
Mike Hill texted the woman, known only as Ms A, saying he “craved” her body, was “in love” with her and described himself as being “emotionally f*****”.
Ms A has accused the former Hartlepool MP of conducting a campaign of sexual harassment and bullying against her over a 16-month period during his four-year stint in office.
She claims he groped her and rubbed his penis against her body in his London flat.
Mr Hill, who stood down as an MP in March, has denied the allegations against him.
During cross-examination at the Central London Employment Tribunal on Friday, Mr Hill was questioned about the text messages he sent Ms A.
In one, which was read out to the tribunal, Mr Hill told her: “You know that I crave your company and intelligence and conversation all the time. But that I also crave your body too.”
Asked repeatedly by the claimant’s barrister, Samuel Nicholls, if that meant he wanted to “have sex” with Mrs A, Mr Hill responded: “Part of having a relationship would be that.”
If I could propose to you today, I would
In another message, Mr Hill said: “Of course I will escape when I can, I want you to be part of my future. You know how much I love you.”
Asked whether he loved the claimant, Mr Hill told the tribunal: “At some stage, I believe I was in love with her.”
He further texted: “I’m truly sorry, I hope we have a future in the long term.
“Hoping I could look after you and care for you like I have done. Didn’t know your feelings were a million miles from that. Sorry. I couldn’t cope with a loveless future as I have that now.
“If I could propose to you today, I would. But if you’re not interested, then what’s the point. I’d end up in torture.”
Mr Hill, who confirmed he was married at the time of the “embarrassing” messages, said he “accepted” that the claimant did not want a romantic sexual relationship with him.
He said he was “wearing my heart on my sleeve”, which was “not unusual” for him.
In a further message, Mr Hill described himself as being “emotionally f*****” and told the tribunal that his “emotions were all over the place” at the time.
Earlier in the hearing, he said he had received training on the issue of sexual harassment while in a previous role as a regional organiser for the trade union Unison.
He said he was aware the claimant had post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.
Extracts of a secretly recorded conversation between Ms A and Mr Hill were read out at the tribunal, with the claimant accusing him of “rubbing” up against her and “touching me up”.
Mr Hill told the hearing the comments were “contrived” as Ms A was referring to “cuddles” that he claimed were “quite often” initiated by her.
Asked what he meant by cuddles, Mr Hill said: “Ms A was a tactile person and would often want a hug.
“Short hugs mainly, reassuring hugs between friends. They stopped when the individual wanted it.”
Making reference to Mr Hill’s reaction at the time of Ms A’s accusations during the recorded conversation, Mr Nicholls said: “A reasonable man is not going to say ‘mhmm’, they are going to say, ‘Woah, what the hell are you talking about, this never happened’.”
Mr Hill responded: “The way in which you quote the ‘mhmm’, that kind of thing is (like) ‘here we go again’.
“My responses are ‘here we go again, you’re arguing again, you’re threatening again’.”
The tribunal heard that eventually two of Mr Hill’s Hartlepool office staff had pressured him into telling his wife about Ms A – more than 18 months after he had employed her.
Mr Hill said the claimant had vowed to bring him and everybody else in his office “down”.
“That’s what has happened because I’ve lost my position and so has everybody else,” he said.
The former MP denied being out to get the claimant for making a complaint about his behaviour, telling the tribunal: “I’m not a vengeful person, absolutely not, I’m a pushover that’s for sure.”
He added: “(The claimant) wanted her job on her terms. She was very pushy on things she wanted. It was her way or the highway.”
Mr Hill was suspended from the Labour Party in September 2019 over the allegations, but was reinstated in October of that year to fight the general election.
He resigned from his seat in March, triggering the by-election that saw the former red wall seat of Hartlepool swing dramatically to the Conservatives.
The tribunal, which is due to last a week and a half, continues.
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