Yesterday, Amy Kitcher, whose name was passed to the Metropolitan police as an alleged victim of sexual harassment by Lord Chris Rennard, waved her right to anonymity in a public statement which shone a light on the murky ordeal involving the Lib Dem peer.
Kitcher puts forward an interesting new perspective which we reproduce in full for you:
It seems everyone in the Lib Dems has a view on the recent events surrounding Chris Rennard. My Facebook timelime is full of of people expressing those views, at length. For the last few days I also haven’t been able to open a newspaper, turn on the radio or visit a news site without it popping up.
In the eleven months since the allegations were made public I have watched, listened and read with interest the coverage of the case. I haven’t publicly commented or made a statement, preferring to maintain my anonymity in this matter. I think I would have carried on doing so if it were not for the events of the last forty-eight hours.
The phrase ‘speaking truth to power’ has been used in commentary around this issue. I have listened to the truth of others. Now I will tell you my truth; it is my uncensored view. Not coached by a lawyer and not rewritten by a journalist.
My name was passed to the Met Police, as being someone who was ‘sexually harassed’ Chris Rennard in 2006. The Police wouldn’t tell me who gave my name to them. Several journalists also contacted me in February and March 2013, again, I don’t know who gave them my contact details. I feel harassed by this stranger’s incessant interference in my private life.
Whilst I hadn’t contacted the Police, I did cooperate fully with them. They wanted facts from me, so I gave them the facts as I saw them. They came to my home and it took two hours for them to take a full statement from me. They returned a second time, for me to read they transcribed statement and to ‘sign it off’. The Police were very thorough, impartial and professional. I had complete confidence in them.
To save conjecture I’ll summarise the two hour interview:
Chris Rennard touched my knee. This was inappropriate. Did I think it was sexual harassment? No. Did I feel threatened in anyway? No.
This was my personal experience. Other people’s experiences may differ and I don’t presume to speak for them.
The whole case and the coverage of it has overlooked something, that for me at least, is vitally important. My own ability to deal with this kind of behaviour. Am I helpless victim that needs the Party hierarchy to intervene on my behalf? Am I a such a pathetic figure that I believe only the Police or the ‘patriarchy’ can deal with this for me? Of course not. As I said to the Police at the time, if the worst thing that ever happened to me was someone touching me knee under a table then I would have lived a very sheltered life indeed. The fact is that women face this, and worse, everyday – and we cope! We deal with it, one way or another. Is it right? No, but it is reality.
To claim that such behaviour was an abuse of power suggests that one party has all the power and the other party has little or none. I refute this notion. Chris Rennard had power from his position in the Party. However, I was also a woman in my power. Twenty-five years old, confident and self-aware. I took power from that and I exercised that power. I handled the matter myself and for me that was the end of it.
What has not come out during the course of this case is that some people at the time sought to manipulate Chris Rennard. One woman in the Party advised me to be ‘friendly and flirty’ with Chris Rennard as it would ‘help me politically if he noticed me’. A paid Party officer told me to exploit my contact with Chris Rennard to get a much sought after ‘constituency visit’ from him.
One of these people is now claiming to be the victim of harassment, and I have often mused as to their true motivation in doing so.
People have cited his position of power as a reason that they didn’t feel confident addressing inappropriate behaviour directly. It is claimed Chris Rennard was someone who could make or break political careers. After this event in 2006 I went on to have perfectly cordial dealings with Chris Rennard and my selection and the Party support my campaign in the 2010 General Election was given shows that I was in no way treated in a punitive manner.
Seven months after the Channel Four story, in September 2013, the Police rang me to tell me that they didn’t think that there was enough evidence to pursue the case in the courts. For me this was the end of the issue. I was content to let something that had been put to bed once, be returned there once again.
Two days ago I turned on the Radio to hear some women being interviewed by Eddie Marr on the PM show. They were demanding an apology from Chris Rennard. All day yesterday and this morning there have been claims and counter claims by both sides. Open letters are being drafted, legal advice is being sought and legal action is being threatened. The women in case, and their allies in the wider Party, seem to think that they speak for all of us – us being the women directly involved. I am directly involved and they do not speak for me. Whilst I remained anonymous I was unable to say that. So now I must say it publicly if I am to say it at all.
I can understand why Chris Rennard is not apologising. The Police have said that there is no case to answer. Of course his legal counsel has advised him not to apologise. If he apologises now, it would admit guilt on his part. To expect him to do anything else is naïve. Do I want an apology from Chris Rennard? No. Do I want people to respect the decision of Scotland Yard and the Met Police? Yes.
If this case says anything about the Party it says that we didn’t have the right processes in place. Changes have been made. I am satisfied with those changes. Does the continued pursuit of one man further the aims of respect and equality within the Party? No, it doesn’t. The Police decided there was no case to answer. Personally, I think that that should be an end to the matter. Let’s move on. — with Chris Rennard.
The link to the full statement and interaction can be found here.
Update: A previous version of this article referred to Ms Kitcher as a ‘Victim’ in inverted quotes to show she was not one. We understand this may have been insufficiently clear and so apologise for any misunderstanding
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