As three women who claim to have been sexually harassed by Lord Rennard call for him to be expelled from the Lib Dems, former Liberal leader Lord Steel says he should be brought back into the fold.
Despite these calls, his friends say he will now seek to have the Lib Dem whip restored after complying with the recommendations of an independent inquiry.
Lord Steel told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme he thought Lord Rennard had brought “closure” to the “very unfortunate episode” with his apology.
He said: “I’m glad it is now over and we can get back to normal. I think he should come back, he has made an apology. He thinks his conduct was less than it should have been.”
A dilemma for Nick Clegg as Lord Rennard apologises. Read Cathy Newman's blog
More than a year ago, Channel 4 News broadcast allegations that Lord Rennard had abused his power by behaving inappropriately to a series of women.
Until Thursday, he had always denied the claims and had also defied Mr Clegg’s demands for an apology.
An inquiry carried out for the Lib Dems by Alistair Webster QC concluded there was broadly credible evidence he had violated the women’s personal space, and said the peer should apologise.
He refused to do that and was suspended in January for bringing his party into disrepute. In his letter, he apologised “sincerely” and said any “intrusion” by him “would have been inadvertent”.
Ms Goldsworthy told Channel 4 News on Thursday that if Lord Rennard had apologised earlier, “then things may be very different”. But the fact it had taken so long for him to do so meant he should be expelled.
A friend of Lord Rennard insisted the peer would have apologised sooner if he had been allowed to see the Webster report in full.