Former premier Gordon Campbell accused of groping woman in London in 2013

Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell is being investigated by police after a woman complained that he groped her when she was employed by the Canadian High Commission in London, a British newspaper is reporting.

Campbell was high commissioner at the time, and Scotland Yard is handling the case, the Daily Telegraph said.

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The woman said she was groped in 2013 and filed a complaint with police in January, the newspaper said.

Campbell, 71, could not be reached for comment, but the Daily Telegraph quoted a spokesman for him who said the alleged incident was investigated and dismissed.

“This complaint was transparently disclosed and became the subject of a full due diligence investigation at the time by the government of Canada and was found to be without merit,” the newspaper quoted the unnamed spokesman as saying.

The newspaper said Scotland Yard issued a statement confirming it is investigating an allegation of sexual assault that occurred in 2013 after it was contacted by a 54-year-old woman on Jan. 3. The statement said the woman alleged she was sexually assaulted at an address in Grosvenor Square and that no arrests have been made as it continues its investigation.

The Daily Telegraph said the woman alleged a “hand went up my backside” as she climbed the main staircase at Canada House, where the high commission is based, on her way to a meeting.

In a statement, Global Affairs Canada said it cannot comment on specific allegations for privacy reasons.

“The government of Canada takes any allegations of sexual assault and harassment extremely seriously,” the emailed statement said.

“This kind of alleged misconduct in the workplace is absolutely unacceptable.”

Campbell was premier of British Columbia from 2001 to 2011 and was mayor of Vancouver from 1986 to 1993. He was appointed high commissioner in 2011 and left the diplomatic post in 2016.

In a formal complaint submitted to the high commission, the woman said she had been “humiliated and disrespected,” but at the time it happened, she simply “froze.”

“In that moment it just felt as though someone had just invaded my home or robbed me,” she said, speaking to the Daily Telegraph. “I distinctly remember this hand went up my backside. It was significant. It wasn’t: ‘Oops, sorry I brushed you.’ It was definitely someone having a feel.”

The mother of three, who lives in the U.K., said she decided to speak out in the wake of the MeToo movement.

Sheila Orr, who worked with Campbell for about 12 years in the B.C. Liberal Party and as MLA for Victoria-Hillside, said she knows him well and never saw him behave inappropriately with anyone during that time.

“Gordon Campbell is not a warm and fuzzy person, but under no circumstances have I ever seen him groping anybody,” she said.

Orr said she did not wish to diminish the woman’s allegation and only wished to speak about her personal experience working with Campbell. “Gordon Campbell was such a cold fish, I could never imagine him groping anybody,” Orr said.

Former MLA Ida Chong, who worked with Campbell in various capacities for 15 years, said Campbell “showed nothing but respect around me.”

Chong, who was MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head, said Campbell would be warm with caucus colleagues during difficult times, such as the loss of a family member, but never offered anything more than a hug. He never touched anyone inappropriately, to her knowledge, she said.

“Some of us went through terrible traumas,” she said. “He was nothing but comforting.”

Carole Taylor, a former Liberal cabinet minister, said she had hadn’t heard of the allegation. The two had a friendly, professional relationship, she said. “I never had any experience or knowledge of that with Gordon.”

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