The buck stops with me: Clegg takes responsibility for Rennard allegations

Mea culpa: Clegg prays forgiveness for Rennard sex harassment

Mea culpa: Clegg prays forgiveness for Rennard sex harassment

Nick Clegg has ratcheted up the pressure on Chris Rennard to apologise for alleged instances of sexual harassment, even as he spoke openly about his own failure to protect the women affected.

The comments come a day after an internal investigation found evidence against the former Lib Dem chief executive was "broadly credible" but did not satisfy the level of proof needed for a charge.

"We've taken a very unforgiving looks and it's been unflattering frankly – a party which didn't have the right procedures, which didn't protect these women," Clegg said during his weekly LBC phone-in show.

Clegg also said he had tasked Lib Dem president Tim Farron with reviewing whether the standard of proof should be changed in internal disciplinary reviews.

"The buck stops with me," Clegg added.

"The party as a whole and myself as leader must take responsibility for the concerns raised.

"The rule procedures were lacking and in some cases just absent.

"I apologised as leader of the party to the women both publically and privately."

Alistair Webster, the QC who conducted the inquiry, called for Rennard to apologise to the women – a call enthusiastically embraced by Clegg.

"It is a matter of very real regret, to put it mildly, that so far he hasn't apologised," Clegg said.

"I urge him this morning to do the decent thing. He's been asked by the QC very fairly, very decently, to give an apology."

Asked what he would do to press the issue, Clegg said: "If someone isn't prepared to do the decent thing and apologise, I can't frog march them to do so.

"He's not going to play a role in my general election campaign next year. I've made that very clear."

But Alex Carlile, Rennard's lawyer, said his client had been denied the basic standards of open justice.

"Astonishingly not even Lord Rennard or I as his legal representative is being allowed to see a copy of the report so we don’t know what else the report says," he said.

"It’s a terrible example of secret justice.

"Lord Rennard has always denied that he did anything wrong, the statements that were placed before Alistair Webster were four statements with complaint in them and about a hundred which refuted those complaints, some of them by people who were present or close to present at the times alleged.

"This is the first time I’ve ever been criticised as a lawyer for doing what was right and proper, in other words ensuring that due process was followed. Alistair Webster’s report found not only that there was no case to answer applying the criminal standard of proof, but no case to answer applying a lower standard of proof."