Updated: City of Chester set for by-election after MP Chris Matheson resigns following “Serious Sexual Misconduct” findings
Update: Chester MP Chris Matheson has resigned following an investigation by a Parliamentary watchdog into allegations of “serious sexual misconduct.”
Earlier report: Chester MP Christian Matheson should be suspended from the Commons for four weeks for “serious sexual misconduct” a Parliamentary watchdog has said.
The Independent Expert Panel (IEP) has today published a report recommending that the Labour MP should be suspended for breaching Parliament’s Sexual Misconduct Policy.
The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards upheld two allegations of sexual misconduct against Mr Matheson by a former junior member of his staff made under Parliament’s Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS).
One allegation is that in 2019 Matheson invited the female staff member to take a private trip to Gibraltar with him.
The Commissioner found that the invitation “was sexually motivated, unwanted, and had placed the complainant under pressure and intimidated her.”
The other allegation is that during a work-related corporate event held outside the Parliamentary estate; the Chester MP “linked arms with her; made personal comments about her appearance while looking at her suggestively; made her hold his hand as they left and insisted on accompanying her to her bus stop; and once there invited her back to his flat, kissed her twice on the forehead and attempted to kiss her on the mouth.
The Commissioner also concluded that several further incidents complained of by the complainant were breaches of the Behaviour Code, but, as she was not satisfied that they constituted “conduct of a sexual nature”, that they were not breaches of the Sexual Misconduct Policy.
The Commissioner concluded that these were all unwanted and unwelcome sexual advances.”
Mr Matheson did not appeal the Commissioner’s decision, but has nevertheless contested some of her findings during the process for determining sanction. The IEP sub-panel determining sanction concluded that, on the Commissioner’s findings:
The IEP said: “There is no doubt that [Mr Matheson] was seeking to initiate a sexual relationship with the complainant, his junior employee. This wished-for relationship was unwanted and unwelcome throughout. The evidence confirms that his actions were entirely non-consensual, as well as threatening, intimidating, undermining and humiliating for the complainant.”
“Although it took into account the fact that Mr Matheson accepted that he had breached the sexual misconduct policy, and other mitigation, the sub-panel found that his “continuing failure to acknowledge the full extent of his misconduct [was] an aggravating factor” and “insulting to the complainant”. “The clear imbalance of power” between Mr Matheson and the complainant, her vulnerability, and reliance on him for employment, were further serious aggravating factors.”
“It determined Mr Matheson should be suspended from the House for four weeks for this “serious breach of the Behaviour Code”.
Mr Matheson appealed the sub-panel’s decision.
“However, the new sub-panel appointed to consider his appeal dismissed it, concluding that he had not raised any substantive grounds of appeal.” The IEP has said.
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