Following the news that former foreign secretary Boris Johnson and his barrister wife Marina Wheeler are to divorce, rumours have swirled regarding the reasons for the split.
Several news outlets have alleged that Johnson was not faithful to his wife, insinuating that he has been “growing close” to former government special adviser Carrie Symonds.
Following these accusations, Symonds has been the target of several stories in the press intruding into her private life and relationship history. Several newspapers also published pictures of Symonds dressed in revealing clothing, taken from her Facebook page.
Following this coverage, which has been branded “intrusive”, “vile” and “misogynistic”, Symonds has gone into hiding. Though politicians and commentators from across the political spectrum have condemned how Symonds has been treated.
In the current febrile environment it does Labour people no favours to say this, but basic decency requires it. The… https://t.co/MF4Gq54XiO
Labour's Frankie Leach also voiced a similar experience, imploring people to rise above politics to put a stop to this treatment of women.
Now 70 women from across the political spectrum have joined forces to sign an open letter in support of Symonds, criticising the way that she has been hounded by the press and characterised in a sexist manner.
Originally published by Huffington Post, the letter says:
There was and is absolutely no need for newspapers and websites to trawl through a woman’s social media, repeatedly indulging in innuendo and publishing dozens and dozens of pictures of her, all taken from her private life – with some dating from over ten years ago.
Being a woman in politics isn’t easy, and each of us has had to overcome a lot to get to where we are, and so has she. We are often treated in a way that men wouldn’t be, and this debacle is only the latest example of a political and media culture still steeped in misogyny.
It is often asked why women are hesitant to get into political journalism, become MPs, or simply start a career in Westminster; incidents like this go some way towards explaining why.
To the journalists and editors who have used a news story as an excuse to infringe on the personal life of a young woman and titillate their readers, and the people in Westminster who have helped them make this shameful coverage happen, we say: do better. Be better.
Signatories include Conservative MPs Anna Soubry and Heidi Allen, journalists Suzanne Moore and Marie Le Conte and Labour MP Stella Creasy.
Read the full letter and list of signatories here.