Buckets of Data

May 8, 2004

National Post: May 8, 2004: MP fires aide on harassment charges

Filed under: Uncategorized — bucketsdata @ 3:37 pm

MP fires aide on harassment charges: B.C. woman linked to controversial stalking cases
Peter O’Neil
CanWest News Service, with files from National Post

May 8, 2004
National Post, A2

OTTAWA – B.C. Conservative MP Gurmant Grewal yesterday terminated the contract of Rachel Marsden, a self-described political pundit with “model-like good looks” who has been at the centre of two major stalking controversies in British Columbia.

Ms. Marsden, who appears in B.C. provincial court next week to face harassment charges involving a Vancouver radio personality, would have had potential access to numerous personal files at Mr. Grewal’s Surrey office.

Ms. Marsden, who went by the name “Elle Henderson” while working in the MP’s office, was hired over the objections of Conservative officials.

“This individual was hired against the express wishes of both the party and the leader’s office,” said Jim Armour, director of communications for Conservative leader Stephen Harper.

“MPs, however, are free to hire anyone they want.”

Mr. Grewal said he was aware of Mr. Harper’s concerns, but hired Ms. Marsden because he thought she had considerable talent as a writer and could produce materials such as news releases.

He said he would have been concerned about the security of constituents’ files, which cover such areas as taxes and pensions, had Ms. Marsden been convicted, but noted her case is still before the courts.

Ms. Marsden’s first brush with controversy occurred in 1996, when Simon Fraser University swim coach Liam Donnelly was fired after Ms. Marsden alleged he raped her.

But Mr. Donnelly was reinstated after he produced evidence Ms. Marsden was stalking him and had sent him gifts and sexually explicit e-mails. She claimed they were intended to draw him into a discussion of his alleged sexual harassment. According to Mr. Donnelly, Ms. Marsden had been stalking him for months.

The school’s president resigned over the incident — citing depression — and Ms. Marsden was later accused of harassing the former head of SFU’s harassment office, Patricia O’Hagan, and, later, SFU criminology professor Neil Boyd.

Ms. Marsden is now in court charged with harassing former radio personality Michael Morgan between Oct. 1 and Nov. 14, 2002.

Mr. Grewal said Ms. Marsden had the nickname “Elle” in the office and said there was no attempt to hide her identity.

Ms. Marsden, who regularly comments on U.S. political developments, has been lionized on some conservative U.S. Web sites because of both her strong views and her scantily clad poses, including one where she’s wearing a bustier, a micro miniskirt and black stockings. One site, JerseyGOP.com, last year named Ms. Marsden its “Republican Babe of the Week.”

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