Delyn MP Rob Roberts returns from suspension to cast first parliamentary vote as an Independent
Delyn MP Rob Roberts has cast his first parliamentary vote as an Independent member.
The disgraced politician has retaken his seat in the House of Commons following a six-week suspension for sexual harassment.
Roberts returned to vote by proxy on the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill on Monday evening.
He was the Conservative MP for Delyn when an Independent Expert Panel (IEP) found he breached parliament’s sexual harassment policy.
The IEP found Mr Roberts had made repeated and unwanted sexual advances towards a young male staff member, he also made inappropriate comments of “a sexual nature and was overly intrusive about his personal life.”
The IEP recommended Mr Roberts should serve a six-week suspension from the House of Commons as a result of the breach.
The whip was withdrawn leaving him an Independent MP.
Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg said it would be “honourable for a member to stand down” after losing the whip “in a case of this severity.”
But Mr Roberts has ignored calls to resign and was able to retake his seat in the House last week.
Despite Mr Roberts now sitting as an Independent MP, Conservative counterpart Stuart Andrew, the deputy government chief whip, cast a proxy vote for the Delyn member on Monday.
Proxy voting enables MPs to cast a vote on behalf of another MP who is absent for public health reasons related to the pandemic, for example.
According to Politico’s email newsletter this morning, Mr Roberts returned from his suspension on Monday night to vote against Labour in the freedom of speech debate.
The Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill is a proposed Act of the Parliament that would impose requirements for universities and students’ unions to protect freedom of speech.
Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green described it as a “bill that amounts to legal protection for hate speech” and means “Holocaust deniers and anti-vaxxers could sue their way to a platform at universities.” She said.
It has passed its second reading with 367 MPs backing the legislation and 216 voting against it.
Crediting the Press Associations Richard Wheeler, Politico notes:
“Disgraced former Tory MP Rob Roberts returned from his suspension last night to vote against Labour in the freedom of speech debate.
“The Tories might publicly distance themselves from Roberts, but that didn’t stop Stuart Andrew, the deputy government chief whip, casting the “independent” backbencher’s proxy vote for him to help defeat the opposition.”
Following the IEP report, the Delyn MP issued a statement vowing to carry on doing his “utmost” to serve his constituents and apologised for what he called a “breach of trust” over unwanted sexual advances to a member of staff.
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