LONDON : Westminster came under further scrutiny of its handling of sexual harassment after a Labour activist said she was raped by a party member and another woman said she was assaulted by an MP. Bex Bailey, a former member of Labour’s governing body, the National Executive Committee, said she was 19 years old when she was raped at a party event in 2011. She told BBC Radio 4 that two years after the crime, which she did not report to police out of fear and shame, she confided in a senior party official.

Meanwhile, one of British Prime Minister Theresa May’s closest ministerial colleagues on Wednesday strongly denied inappropriate behaviour towards a journalist, as he became the most senior figure caught up in a Westminster sex scandal. May has ordered an investigation into an allegation that Damian Green, her de facto deputy and an old university friend, touched the woman’s knee and sent her a suggestive text message before he joined the cabinet.

Green said it was “absolutely and completely untrue that I’ve ever made any sexual advances” towards journalist and Conservative activist Kate Maltby, who is 30 years younger than him.

“This untrue allegation has come as a complete shock and is deeply hurtful, especially from someone I considered a personal friend,” he said.

A Downing Street spokesman said May had asked the head of the civil service, Jeremy Heywood, to “establish the facts and report back as soon as possible”.

Allegations of sexual harassment and abuse have been circulating in Westminster for almost a week, with all party leaders pledging to do more to tackle what many admit is a pervasive problem.