An MP has had the Conservative whip removed after a complaints panel found that he broke Parliament’s sexual misconduct policy.
Rob Roberts made repeated and unwanted sexual advances towards a male former member of staff, an Independent Expert Panel (IEP) found, as it recommended he face a six-week suspension.
Following the publishing of the panel’s report on Tuesday, the Conservative Party has taken away the whip from Mr Roberts, the MP for Delyn in North Wales.
Mr Roberts will now sit as an independent member but will only have the panel’s proposed six-week suspension imposed on him if it is agreed to by MPs.
The prime minister’s official spokesman said: “The government is now considering next steps and will update shortly.
“There might be more from the Leader of the House who is committed to bringing forward motions to implement sanctions recommended by the independent panel.”
Labour Party chairwoman Anneliese Dodds said Mr Roberts should “resign with immediate effect”.
Sir Stephen Irwin, chairman of the IEP, said the misconduct demonstrated by Mr Roberts was “significant” and that the proposed six-week suspension is “proper and proportionate”.
The independent panel was instructed to look at the case following a complaint made under the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme of the House of Commons by a male ex-staff member in June 2020.
The individual alleged that during the brief period he worked for Mr Roberts, the Conservative MP made repeated and unwanted sexual advances and used his position as his employer to place him under pressure to accede.
The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards found that Mr Roberts had acted in breach of Parliament’s sexual misconduct policy.
But Mr Roberts appealed the commissioner’s decision and the case was subsequently referred to the IEP.
Publishing the report on Tuesday, Sir Stephen said: “The misconduct demonstrated here was significant.”
He added: “Our conclusion is that the determination of six weeks suspension from the service of the House was proper and proportionate.”
Despite having the whip removed and the proposed suspension Mr Roberts, who was elected to his Delyn seat in 2019, will not face the prospect of a by-election due to the sanction being set by the IEP rather than a Commons committee.
Responding to the IEP’s findings, Ms Dodds said: “The report fully upholds the sexual harassment allegations made against Rob Roberts MP.
“He should therefore resign his seat with immediate effect.”
She added: “That such serious and proven abuse doesn’t automatically result in the recall of a sitting Member of Parliament is both absurd and unjust.”
A Conservative Party spokesperson confirmed Mr Roberts had had the party whip removed, adding: “We would like to apologise to the individual concerned for the inappropriate and unwarranted treatment they were subjected to by someone in a position of authority.
“There is no place for the behaviour they were subjected to and we praise their courage in coming forward.”
The IEP determines appeals and sanctions in cases where complaints have been brought against MPs of bullying, harassment or sexual misconduct under the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS).
The panel is entirely independent, with no MPs taking part in its decisions.
The case involving Mr Roberts is one of the first to be judged by the panel appointed last November to look at bullying and harassment cases.
Source: Read Full Article