PROMINENT barrister and former spouse of prime minister Boris Johnson is set to take on a pivotal role as Labour’s adviser on protecting women against workplace harassment.
Marina Wheeler KC will assist the party in enhancing employment rights to protect women from hostile coworkers, reports said.
Labour’s initiative aims to grant women subjected to workplace harassment “whistleblower” status, encouraging them to report abuses without the fear of reprisals.
The party also seeks to extend legal rights, including property rights, to women in cohabiting relationships, mirroring those enjoyed by married women.
Marina Wheeler, renowned for her expertise in employment law, will advise to help shape these reforms.
Shadow attorney general Emily Thornberry is expected to unveil these proposals in her speech at the Labour’s annual conference in Liverpool on Tuesday (10). These measures are significant steps towards addressing workplace harassment and promoting gender equality, according to reports.
“Women in the workplace too often suffer sexual harassment and assault and they pay a heavy price for speaking out. Knowing this, and to keep their jobs, they suffer in silence,” Wheeler said in a statement.
She pointed out a recent survey that revealed instances of sexual harassment or assault experienced by female surgeons from their colleagues over the past five years.
“Having spent over two decades litigating employment disputes, I am delighted to be working with Emily Thornberry to help formulate solutions – including law reform where necessary – to encourage women to come forward,” she added.
Wheeler is the second prominent outsider to join Keir Starmer’s team, following Sue Gray, the former civil servant whose report on Downing Street parties during Johnson’s leadership played a part in his political decline. Gray now serves as Labour’s chief of staff.
Wheeler is the daughter of journalist Sir Charles Wheeler and Dip Singh. Before marrying Sir Charles, Dip was married to renowned writer late Khushwant Singh’s younger brother, Daljit Singh.
Johnson and Wheeler were married for more than two decades and they often travelled to India to visit her extended family.
They separated in 2018 after marrying in 1993, and reached a divorce settlement in February 2020.