Labour MP resigns over transgressive behavior
PvdA parliamentarian Gijs van Dijk resigned after several reports of "undesirable behavior in the private sphere," the party said in a statement. An "independent external investigation" is being launched, the party said. "Due to these reports, Gijs van Dijk decided to step down as a member of parliament and to make his seat available."
"In my personal life, I have not always been honest in the relational sphere. If that has hurt people, I would like to offer my sincere apologies," Van Dijk said in the statement. "In order to give the required independent investigation space and not to get in the way of the party, I am withdrawing from my political position."
The statement did not make clear precisely what Van Dijk is accused of. NOS reported that he hugged and kissed women against their will, mentioning Ellen Geist and Cornelia Klaster. The latter is said to have gone to the police and filed a complaint with the party in 2019 without result. A conflict about initially declaring that complaint unfounded even allegedly resulted in her expulsion. According to NOS, several PvdA members objected to this.
PvdA leader Lilianne Ploumen confirmed that the complaints that resulted in Van Dijk's resignation followed an earlier report from a party member. According to her, the party completed the earlier report after "an external, independent investigation." She said she spoke to the women who recently filed reports against Van Dijk in the past few days. Their complaints were "serious enough" that the party called in an outside agency to conduct an independent investigation.
The women spoke of "inappropriate behavior" by Van Dijk, "which made them feel unsafe," according to Ploumen.
Ploumen contradicts that the party did not take previous complaints seriously and did not investigate them properly, independently. "I have no reason to doubt that," she said. The investigation was done "in good faith," and no PvdA member was involved, said Ploumen. According to her, they will share the findings with the agency that launched the new investigation.
The women Ploumen recently spoke to are women Van Dijk "knows from the private sphere." It does not concern faction members or employees of the party, although one of them is a member of the PvdA. "You can imagine that I also feel responsible for their safety," said the PvdA leader. And "if there are reports, if women say: I still want to say something, come to the reporting center," Ploumen said. This also applies to women who previously sounded the alarm but did not feel heard.
For many years, Van Dijk spoke on Social Affairs, an important theme for the PvdA. Among other things, he worked on a law to give employees the right to be unreachable for their employers outside working hours.
It is not known who will take Van Dijk's seat in the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of the Dutch parliament. The next candidate on the PvdA list is Zaandam alderman Songül Mutluer.
Van Dijk's decision to resign comes after a series of reports of transgressive behavior, including at The Voice and Ajax. In recent years, several politicians also stepped down as MPs after reports of inappropriate behavior. For example, D66 member Sidney Smeets resigned last year shortly after being sworn in as parliamentarian due to accusations of inappropriate sexual advances towards underage boys. In 2018, VVD member Han ten Broeke resigned from parliament due to an "unequal" relationship with an employee a few years earlier.
PVV MP Dion Graus was discredited after accusations of inappropriate behavior and sexual exploitation. A complaint against the MP was later dropped.
Reporting by ANP