MP Rob Roberts given six-week suspension as Commons leader says “honourable” for him to stand down
MPs have approved a motion to suspend Delyn MP Rob Roberts from the House of Commons for six weeks after an Independent Expert Panel (IEP) found he breached sexual misconduct rules.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the Delyn MP’s six-week suspension from the Commons would be an appropriate punishment for the rule breach.
Roberts had the Conservative whip removed earlier this week, he will sit as an independent MP until the party decides to restore it, once he returns to the Commons following the suspension.
Today, 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.
A recall petition to allow constituents to force a by-election is automatically triggered when an MP is suspended for more than 10 sitting days or they are convicted of a criminal offence.
However, Delyn constituents will be denied the right to force a by-election as the six-week sanction was imposed by the IEP.
Parliamentary rules mean that to trigger a recall petition, a ruling must come from a committee of the house such as the Standards Committee.
It means an allegation of financial misconduct for example can trigger an MP’s recall and therefore a by-election, but a potentially more serious allegation of sexual misconduct cannot because it goes through the IEP.
Mr Rees-Mogg said: “Following a case of this severity, in which it would be honourable for a member to stand down after the withdrawal of the whip.”
“We need to look at whether the process is striking the right balance between independence, protecting the confidentiality of complainants and ensuring consistent outcomes across different types of conduct case.”
“I can therefore confirm to the house that I have asked the chairman of the Independent Expert Panel for his views on whether changes should be made to the current process to enable recall to be triggered.”
“In my view, any changes in this regard should be made in the most straightforward way possible, and my preference would therefore be for a non-legislative solution.”
A report published on Tuesday by an Independent Expert Panel (IEP), found Rob Roberts had made repeated and unwanted sexual advances towards a former member of staff.
Mr Roberts also made inappropriate comments of a sexual nature and was overly intrusive about his personal life.
He has apologised for his actions, saying the “breach of trust” was “completely improper and should not have happened”.
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