Delyn MP Rob Roberts facing six-week suspension for sexual misconduct
Delyn MP Rob Roberts faces a six-week suspension from the House of Commons for breaching parliament’s sexual harassment policy.
According to a report published today, Tuesday, May 25, by parliament’s independent expert panel (IEP), Roberts made repeated and unwanted sexual advances towards a former member of staff.
The former staff member made a complaint under the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme of the House of Commons.
The reporter alleged that there had been breaches of Parliament’s sexual misconduct policy, namely that during the brief period he worked for Mr Rob Roberts MP, Mr Roberts made repeated and unwanted sexual advances towards the reporter, using his position as his employer to place him under pressure to accede.
Mr Rob Roberts MP also made inappropriate comments of a sexual nature and was overly intrusive about his personal life.
The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards found that the Mr Roberts had acted in breach of Parliament’s sexual misconduct policy.
The report on Parliament’s website states that Mr Roberts “acknowledged that aspects of his behaviour towards the Reporter were inappropriate, and offered the Reporter an apology; however, the Responder rejected the categorisation of his conduct as “sexual”, preferring the term “romantic”.
“The Responder also denied making repeated advances.”
“He asserted that his initial “approach” towards the Reporter was clumsy and therefore required a subsequent meeting so that he could articulate his thoughts and feelings in a more thoughtful and considered manner.”
“His subsequent efforts to get the Reporter to go for a drink with him, including scheduling a meeting in the Reporter’s work diary for drinks, amounted to no more than an attempt to reset their professional working relationship.”
Mr Roberts appealed the Commissioner’s decision and the case was referred to the Independent Expert Panel.
The report states: “On 26 October 2020 the independent investigator (the Investigator) reported in a Formal Assessment Report that in his opinion there was sufficient evidence on the balance of probabilities to determine that sexual misconduct had occurred in this case.”
“In a letter dated 11 November 2020 the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards (the Commissioner) wrote to the Responder informing him that she had upheld the complaints against him.”
“The letter states: “I have read carefully [the Investigator’s] full assessment report, enclosed, and reviewed the evidence he collated.”
“I have also considered the comments that you submitted during the factual accuracy checking stage.”
“I am satisfied that the allegations against you have been investigated fairly and thoroughly.”
The Panel determined that Mr Rob Roberts MP should be suspended from the House for six weeks.
This decision was upheld on appeal.
The suspension can only be imposed following a motion in the House.
The process for a petition under the Recall of MPs Act 2015 is not triggered by a suspension imposed on the recommendation of the Panel.
For a recall to be initiated, the sanction must be imposed on the recommendation of the Committee on Standards, or another Committee of the House of Commons concerned with standards of conduct.
Sir Stephen Irwin, Chair of the IEP has said: “The misconduct demonstrated here was significant.”
“It is evident that Mr Roberts MP was in a very powerful position as an employer in relation to the reporter.”
“Our conclusion is that the determination of six weeks suspension from the service of the House was proper and proportionate.”
Responding to the publication of the Independent Expert Panel’s report Anneliese Dodds MP, Labour Party Chair, said:
“The report fully upholds the sexual harassment allegations made against Rob Roberts MP. He should therefore resign his seat with immediate effect.
“That such serious and proven abuse doesn’t automatically result in the recall of a sitting Member of Parliament is both absurd and unjust. The Conservative Government cannot dance around gaps in legislation if it is serious about upholding standards in public life.
“That is why we expect the Government to take immediate action – Labour will support efforts to pass emergency legislation or measures to rectify this situation.”
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