British Prime Minister Theresa May has ordered an investigation into claims one of her senior deputies made inappropriate advances to a Conservative activist, as allegations of sexual harassment and abuse in British politics spread.

Writer and academic Kate Maltby says Cabinet minister Damian Green "fleetingly" touched her knee in 2015 and later sent her a "suggestive" text message after she was pictured wearing a corset in a newspaper.

Green said Wednesday that claims of sexual advances were untrue and "deeply hurtful."

Meanwhile, an opposition Labour Party activist says officials of her party discouraged her from reporting a sexual assault at a Labour conference in 2011.

The allegations have triggered soul-searching about how to stop abusive behavior in politics, a world fueled by a sometimes toxic mix of power, ambition and secrecy.