Lord Rennard claims: Alleged victim speaks to police

Alison Smith: "Even people you think of as very senior MPs, they're actually scared of this man"

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A former Lib Dem activist who has accused the party's ex-chief executive Lord Rennard of sexually inappropriate behaviour, has spoken to police.

Alison Smith, now a lecturer at Oxford University, said she had contacted a confidential police hotline.

Ms Smith says she left the Lib Dems as a consequence of how it had dealt with the claims against Lord Rennard.

Lord Rennard, who stepped down as chief executive due to ill health in 2009, denies the allegations.

She said in a BBC interview on Wednesday she had decided to go public with the claims against Lord Rennard because she was "very worried that he would make a comeback".

Ms Smith said she would not be making any further comment on the matter.

'Hopelessly exaggerated'

On Wednesday the party reprimanded Lib Dem peer Lord Stoneham following reports he telephoned and angrily remonstrated with one of the women who had complained to newspapers about Lord Rennard's conduct.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg's aides said he regarded Lord Stoneham's conduct as "completely unacceptable".

Over the last week Lord Rennard has faced accusations of sexually inappropriate behaviour towards a number of female activists.

Police have spoken to party officials about the claims, and are working to establish whether or not any criminal behaviour had taken place.

But senior Lib Dem Baroness Williams called Lord Rennard a "very fine man". The situation had been "hopelessly exaggerated", she said.

In previous statements, Lord Rennard has said he was "deeply shocked" by the allegations and described them as a "total distortion" of his character.

The peer said he knew of no complaints against him in his 27 years working for the party but he has temporarily stood aside from the Lib Dem group in the Lords to avoid "embarrassment" to the party.

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