UK Minister Embroiled in Sex Toy Scandal
Mark Garnier admits he asked ex-assistant to buy vibrators, but it was just 'good-humored high jinks'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 30, 2017 9:20 AM CDT
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This file photo dated Aug. 18, 2017, shows Mark Garnier, a UK trade minister who's been caught up in a Westminster sexism storm.   (Tim Goode/PA via AP)

(Newser) – The Harvey Weinstein case may even be making waves across the pond, with a Tory trade minister facing investigation for allegedly sexually harassing his ex-assistant. Among Caroline Edmondson's accusations, which Mark Garnier doesn't deny: asking her to buy sex toys for him and calling her "sugar tits," per the Guardian and the BBC. Garnier told the Daily Mail on Sunday that "I'm not going to be dishonest" and copped to asking Edmondson to purchase two vibrators, which he called "good-humored high jinks," after a 2010 holiday meal in Soho. He also admitted to making the "sugar tits" remark, but he said it was made during an "amusing conversation" about a popular British TV show in which the term is used to describe an attractive woman. "It absolutely does not constitute harassment," he insists, saying he and Edmondson later had a fight and now she's "disgruntled."

Edmondson, who says the two vibrators were for Garnier's wife and another woman who worked in one of his offices (he wasn't yet a minister), replied to his response by calling him a "sh--." She also says the "amusing" comment was made to her at a bar and that Garnier's exact words were: "You are going nowhere, sugar tits." Edmondson's allegations, which the Cabinet Office will now look into, are part of a larger debate over how women are treated in UK government, as other politicians have also recently come under fire for inappropriate behavior. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt tells the BBC that the reports are "totally unacceptable if true," while PM Theresa May has vowed to crack down on such behaviors, noting current disciplinary procedures lack the "teeth" to deal with them. "It's grim. The whole culture has to change," a former Conservative Party minister says, per the Guardian.

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