Nick Clegg insisted today he has "nothing to hide" over claims of alleged sexual harassment by former Liberal Democrat strategist Lord Rennard that broke just days before the crucial Eastleigh by-election.
The Deputy Prime Minister faces further questions after admitting he knew five years ago about the claims regarding the party's ex-chief executive - after initially denying he did.
Mr Clegg was facing the music ahead of Thursday's by-election in marginal Eastleigh, triggered by the resignation of Chris Huhne after he pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice.
Lib Dem president Tim Farron admitted: "We screwed this up" when he was questioned on BBC Radio 4's Today programme about the handling of the issue.
Last week Channel 4 News featured several women who claimed they had been touched inappropriately by Lord Rennard, one of the most formidable election campaigners of recent times.
A spokesman for the former party chief said: "He regards the report as a total distortion of his character."
One of the accusers, party activist Alison Smith, said she had spoken to both the Lib Dems' then chief whip Paul Burstow and spokeswoman for women and equality Jo Swinson.
However, she claimed no action was taken. Ms Swinson, now Equalities Minister, has confirmed she looked into the claims - "All the time I was careful to respect their wish for privacy."
Mr Clegg insisted he had acted appropriately at the time given the level of information available to him. He told BBC Radio Solent: "I have got nothing to hide. The party has nothing to hide.
"We have now got to listen to the women who feel they weren't properly listened to and get to the truth."
Prime Minister David Cameron's spokesman said: "I am not going to get into the specific allegations that have been reported in the press in recent days.
"I would simply make a general point that of course harassment of all kinds is unacceptable."
Lord Rennard stood down in 2009. He was a key strategist and adviser to a succession of Lib Dem leaders.