Scotland Yard investigating sexual assault allegation against former BC Premier Gordon Campbell committed while serving as High Commissioner to the UK

Scotland Yard is investigating an allegation of sexual assault made against the former Canadian High Commissioner to Britain by a female London embassy worker.

The Daily Telegraph can disclose that Gordon Campbell, a prominent politician who served as premier of British Columbia for more than a decade, has been reported to police, accused of groping a member of staff in 2013.

The complaint has been passed to the Foreign Office, which is facilitating discussions between the force and the Canadian authorities.

Whitehall sources indicated that Canada may open its own inquiry and could waive Mr Campbell’s diplomatic immunity if asked to do so.

A spokesman for Mr Campbell said: “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.”

Mr Campbell’s alleged victim, Judith Prins, today breaks her silence to accuse him of groping her before a meeting at Canada House, the country’s embassy in Trafalgar Square.

She claims she felt “completely violated”, yet Mr Campbell merely carried on as if it was “business as usual” and went on to chair the meeting.

The Dutch-Canadian mother-of-three, who lives in the UK, told The Telegraph she chose to speak out in the wake of the MeToo movement and the claims surrounding Sir Philip Green.

Ms Prins, 54, made her formal complaint in January 2014, which she resolved on terms she is prohibited from discussing.

However, she passed details of the complaint to The Telegraph, describing the allegation plus several more claims of inappropriate behaviour over a seven-month period.

She also claims she was warned by Mark Fletcher, the then Consul General, that three other women raised concerns about Mr Campbell’s behaviour before she took up the role.

Mr Fletcher, who is now director general for Global Affairs, did not respond to requests for comment, whilst his government department refused to say whether other complaints had been made or whether it had acted on them.

Last night a spokesman for the Canadian government said it had “zero tolerance for sexual assault and harassment”, adding: “This kind of alleged misconduct in the workplace is absolutely unacceptable.”

Ms Prins says whilst the decision to waive her right to anonymity is “extremely daunting, she believes her experiences are similar to other women who have felt unable to speak out against those in a “position of privilege, respect and power”.

Ms Prins made a formal allegation of sexual assault to police last month.

In a statement, a spokesman the Metropolitan Police confirmed that officers were “investigating an allegation of sexual assault that occurred in 2013.”

They added: “A 54-year-old woman contacted police on 3 January 2019 and alleged she had been sexually assaulted at an address in Grosvenor Square. No arrests have been made at this stage. Enquiries are ongoing.”

When Judith Prins saw her alleged abuser standing only metres from the Queen in the shadow of the Cenotaph, she knew she had to act.

She claims that two months before the Remembrance Sunday service, Gordon Campbell’s hand – which was now clutching her country’s tribute to the Glorious Dead – had found its way below her midriff, uninvited, before landing firmly on the right side of her bottom.

Ms Prins, then a Canadian embassy worker, had been climbing the main staircase of Canada House to a meeting, unaware that Mr Campbell, her country’s top diplomat in London, had been following close behind her.

In a formal complaint submitted later to the embassy, Ms Prins claimed she had been made to feel “humiliated and disrespected”. But at that moment, she simply “froze”.

“In that moment it just felt as though someone had just invaded my home or robbed me,” she says, speaking to The Daily Telegraph about the incident for the first time.

“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.”

Mr Campbell, she says, couldn’t have reacted more differently. “I was shocked when we were in the meeting because he just carried on as if it was business as usual.

“He was just unashamedly being normal, absolutely no regard for what he had just done to me. I think that’s just where I had to file it away in my mind. I didn’t know how to process it at the time.”

It is easy to see why.

Mr Campbell, married for 43 years, was one of her country’s most recognisable politicians, having previously served as leader of British Columbia and mayor of Vancouver.

He had arrived in London in 2011, entrusted by Stephen Harper, the then Canadian prime minister, with representing his nation in the capital of one of its closest allies.

During his six-year stay, he met the Queen and other members of the Royal family regularly, along with senior British politicians and dignitaries.

He was, as Ms Prins describes him, “a very powerful man”.

Having had a few weeks to think it over, Ms Prins initially raised the incident with Mark Fletcher, the then consul general, whom she says had warned her when taking on the role that three other women had raised concerns about the high commissioner’s behaviour.

But when she went to him in October and “blurted it out”, she says he simply shook his head and asked her to give him time to think about it.

When approached by this newspaper, Mr Fletcher, who is now a director general of Global Affairs Canada, declined to comment on the allegations. He refused to say whether he had received complaints from other women or had acted on them, or if he had been aware of a pattern of behaviour that should have been addressed.

By November, Ms Prins’s patience had worn thin. And when Mr Campbell appeared on her television screen, she says it simply pushed her over the edge.

“My blood was boiling. It was like a dirty little secret that we’re not supposed to be talking about,” she continues.

“I saw him lay our wreath on the Cenotaph and saw him right beside the Queen. It wasn’t just about him and me. The same hand… was laying the wreath representing 7,600 Canadians who died in Holland liberating my parents, my family, my grandparents.”

She went back to Mr Fletcher on the Monday, and confirmed that she would initiate a formal complaint.

After several weeks she was provided with the relevant forms, and at the start of the year she was asked to meet with the inspector general of foreign affairs, who flew to London to look into allegations.

The complaint, details of which she has disclosed to The Telegraph, contains a number of other alleged interactions with Mr Campbell.

They include remarks about her appearance and non-sexual touching such as rubbing her shoulders, which she stated made her feel “uncomfortable” and did not seem “appropriate for a professional relationship”.

When she joined the High Commission, she believed she would be walking into a “safe working environment”, where “appointed officials behave with the highest degree of moral virtue”. But looking back now, Ms Prins says she should have spotted the “subliminal messages”.

She later entered into a settlement agreement, details of which she cannot disclose, other than to confirm that her complaint was later withdrawn and the investigation dropped.

Afterwards, she met with Mr Campbell for a coffee in Grosvenor Square, Mayfair. Her contract at the embassy had expired, and she needed his reference for job applications.

She took the opportunity to ask him about his alleged previous actions, asking if it was “something that I did?”

She claims he responded: “No, it’s just that you didn’t want to.”

“Everybody can interpret that the way they want,” she adds, drily.

Asked why she had not gone to the police at the time, Ms Prins says she was unaware that Mr Campbell’s alleged actions could constitute a criminal offence, and insists that nobody involved in the process told her otherwise.

“Gordon Campbell is a very powerful man. You’ve got to remember, he’s appointed by our prime minister,” she said.

When approached for comment, the Canadian department for global affairs declined to comment on the allegations, or whether it had been aware of other complaints against the high commissioner.

Last year, Ms Prins began reading reports about the Harvey Weinstein scandal and an unnamed British businessman who had taken out an injunction against The Telegraph, preventing this newspaper from revealing allegations of bullying, intimidation and sexual harassment made against them.

A High Court judge has since dropped the gagging order, allowing this newspaper to reveal a series of allegations made against Sir Philip Green that have led to calls for him to be stripped of his knighthood.

While Ms Prins does not draw any comparison between Mr Campbell and those men, she says the revelations have exposed a culture that has been “festering” for years.

She says the recent decision to appoint Mr Campbell as an officer of the Order of Canada, the country’s second highest honour, partly in recognition for his service as high commissioner to the UK, was the “straw that broke the camel’s back”.

“This is not something I’m taking lightly at all,” she continues.

“My children are going to read about this, my family. This is about saying, ‘What are we doing about this?’

“Maybe men don’t quite understand the stress levels that you go through, the lack of dignity you feel, the invasion of your private and personal space. It’s got to stop.”

In January, she attended a police station in central London, where she lodged a formal allegation of sexual harassment against Mr Campbell.

Details of her complaint have since been passed to Foreign Office officials, who last week wrote to Canada informing the authorities of the allegations.

A spokesman for Mr Campbell said: “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.”

Ms Prins says the “culture of enablement has to stop”.

At the very least, she hopes that by speaking out, others will come forward, too.

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