Rennard allegations: Who knew what and when?

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Following allegations of inappropriate behaviour by their former chief executive, Lord Rennard, the Liberal Democrats are to conduct two inquiries.

The first will look at the specific complaints against Lord Rennard, which he denies, and the other will consider how the allegations have been handled.

Here is a timeline of the alleged events and the response to them by senior party members.

People involved in making or dealing with the allegations against Lord Rennard

Pictures of Bridget Harris and Alison Smith courtesy of Channel 4 News

Timeline of accusations

Lord Rennard

Lord Rennard is appointed as the Liberal Democrats' chief executive. He gained his reputation as a key member of the party's by-election campaign teams in the 80's and then, after been made director of campaigns and elections in 1989, helped to more than double the party's MPs in the 1997 general election.

Bridget Harris

Bridget Harris, working at the time in a senior role in the Welsh parliament and later a special adviser to Nick Clegg, complains to her line managers that Lord Rennard has touched her legs inappropriately at a conference.

2004 - 2007


At least two other unnamed women, one of them a prospective parliamentary candidate, claim that Lord Rennard groped them during the period that he was the Lib Dems' chief executive.

Alison Smith

Alison Smith, a party activist at the time, alleges that she was touched inappropriately by Lord Rennard in 2007 after having dinner with him in central London. She complained about the incident to the chief whip, Paul Burstow, and the equalities spokesperson, Jo Swinson.

Nick Clegg becomes Lib Dem leader

Nick Clegg wins the party's vote to become the new leader of the Liberal Democrats in December 2007, taking over from Sir Menzies Campbell.

Sandra Gidley

Sandra Gidley, at the time Liberal Democrat MP for Romsey, approaches Nick Clegg shortly after he becomes leader of the party and tells him in person of general concerns about Lord Rennard's behaviour. She now says she did not raise any specific allegations with him because she did not know of any at the time.


Norman Lamb

Susan, a county councillor, alleges that she was touched and then propositioned by Lord Rennard at a training conference for potential Lib Dem candidates held in Peterborough. She made an informal complaint to Jo Swinson, Baroness Scott and Norman Lamb, then the Shadow Secretary of State for Health.

Nick Clegg at 2008 conference

Nick Clegg is told about the allegations by a senior party member in September 2008. He now says he was made aware of "indirect and non-specific concerns" about the behaviour of Lord Rennard.

Danny Alexander

Nick Clegg claims that Danny Alexander, his chief of staff at the time, warned Lord Rennard that any such behaviour towards women was "wholly unacceptable". Lord Rennard is reported to have "categorically denied" that he had acted inappropriately.


Lord Rennard

In May, Lord Rennard announces he is standing down from his position as chief executive of the party for health and family reasons. Nick Clegg has confirmed that the resignation was for health reasons but now says that concerns over his behaviour had been "in the background".

Baroness Scott

Alison Smith claims that Baroness Scott, the president of the Liberal Democrats, told her that Rennard was forced out over allegations and not his health as reported. Baroness Scott has since declined to comment on why Lord Rennard resigned and stated that she would have acted on a formal complaint about his behaviour had one been made, but that she'd received no such complaint.


Alison Smith and Bridget Harris

More than three years after Lord Rennard stepped down as chief executive, Channel 4 News broadcasts interviews with Alison Smith, Bridget Harris and an unnamed woman, in which they describe their claims of inappropriate behaviour and the party's failure to act on their complaints.

Lord Rennard

Lord Rennard responds to the allegations the next day saying, "I absolutely deny any suggestion of improper touching... I am disappointed and angry that anonymous accusations from several years ago are once again being made public in this manner in a clear attempt to damage my reputation." He also stated that he knew of no complaints against him in his 27 years working for the party.

Nick Clegg in Eastleigh in 2012

Following the Channel 4 report and Lord Rennard's denial, party leader Nick Clegg comments on what he knew and when concerning the claims of inappropriate sexual behaviour to women by Lord Rennard.

Tim Farron

Tim Farron, the current president of the Liberal Democrat party, says that "we screwed this up as a party", when talking about how the complaints were handled. He believes that the events are "something that we have to learn from, apologise for and make sure it never happens again."

Lord Stoneham

The Liberal democrat peer Lord Stoneham is reprimanded by the party, following reports that he telephoned and angrily remonstrated with one of the women who had complained to newspapers about Lord Rennard's conduct.

Alison Smith

A week after her allegations were first broadcast, Alison Smith says she has now spoken to police about her complaint against Lord Rennard. The Metropolitan Police had already begun the process of speaking to party officials to establish whether any criminal activity had taken place.

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