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Women call for Rennard's removal from LibDems

Two of the women at the centre of sexual harassment claims against a Liberal Democrat peer have demanded he be kicked out of the party.

Nick Clegg's former special adviser Bridget Harris, who was among the women, also announced she was quitting the the party after Lord Rennard was told he would not face disciplinary action over the allegations.

Another, former Aberdeen councillor Alison Smith, called for the former LibDem chief executive to be barred from taking his old roles within the party.

The calls came as the LibDem leader was accused of taking the "coward's way out" over the allegations.

He moved yesterday to say that Lord Rennard would play no role in his party's 2015 election campaign.

But the peer is expected to help shape their's next manifesto as part of its Federal Policy Committee (FPC).

Mr Clegg also called on Lord Rennard to apologise to the women involved.

In a statement Lord Rennard said that he now looked "forward to resuming my roles within the Liberal Democrats."

An investigation by QC Alistair Webster concluded there was a "less than 50% chance" that a charge against Lord Rennard could be proved to the required standard.

Mr Webster said that there was broadly credible evidence of "behaviour which violated the personal space and autonomy".

He also suggested that Lord Rennard should apologise and make a "commitment to change his behaviour in future".

Mr Webster's investigation followed an earlier decision by the Metropolitan Police not to press charges against Lord Rennard.

Mr Clegg said it was clear that a number of female LibDems were subject to behaviour by someone who had a position of considerable authority which caused them real distress.

He added that the party's rules had been found wanting, clearly these women were not being listened to early enough and that is why they do deserve an apology.

LibDem Party President president Tim Farron is now reviewing its disciplinary procedures "from top to toe".

Ms Smith said she would not support Lord Rennard taking up his previous roles.

She added: "The rules are very heavily biased towards the defendant, and there are no systems in place whatsoever to protect witnesses."

A review last year into the handling of complaints against Lord Rennard criticised Mr Clegg as well as LibDem ministers Jo Swinson and Danny Alexander.

A LibDem spokesman said last night that neither were commenting on the latest developments.

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