Posted: Tue 25th May 2021

Rob Roberts MP vows to carry on doing his “utmost” for Delyn constituents

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Tuesday, May 25th, 2021

Delyn’s MP has vowed to carry on doing his “utmost” to serve his constituents and has apologised for what he called a “breach of trust” over unwanted sexual advances to a member of staff.

A standards watchdog report published today, found he breached parliament’s sexual harassment policy.

The parliament’s independent expert panel (IEP) has recommended Roberts should serve a six-week suspension from the House of Commons as a result of the breach.

IEP report states that Mr Roberts made repeated and unwanted sexual advances towards a young male staff member.

The Delyn MP also made inappropriate comments of “a sexual nature and was overly intrusive about his personal life.”

The report – on Parliament’s website – states that Mr Roberts “acknowledged that aspects of his behaviour towards the Reporter [former staff member] 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 [Mr Roberts] 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 six-week suspension will only come into effect if MPs support it, by voting for a motion in the House of Commons.

The Delyn MP issued a statement, in it he says:

In the first half of 2020, I was in a particularly challenging place personally and had taken the decision to leave my marriage of 15 years and come out as being gay.

At around the same time, I asked a male member of Parliamentary staff to dinner in the hope of striking up a personal relationship.

I recognise that this breach of trust in the MP-Staff relationship was completely improper and should not have happened.

I apologised at the time and do so again to the complainant but also to my colleagues, family and most importantly my constituents.

I will continue to do my utmost to serve my constituency as I have over the past 18 months since my election, and this judgement will not alter my resolve to ensure that the people of Delyn get the assistance they need with pressing local issues.

It is the greatest honour of my life to represent the constituency in which I grew up and have lived my whole life, and I will work tirelessly to restore any faith which has been lost by this ruling.

I have no further comment to make on the situation and will continue to go about my non-Parliamentary work as before, providing as much assistance and representation to my constituents as I can.

It is reported that Mr Roberts has had the Conservative whip suspended.

According to POLITICO, “a loophole in the current system means Roberts’ suspension would not automatically trigger a petition to recall him as an MP. However, it is understood the government is considering a change to the rules.”

The former employee who reported Roberts said in a statement:

I am very relieved that the report published today has found that Rob Roberts committed a serious and malicious breach of policies put in place to protect staff from sexual misconduct, and I welcome the recommendation by the panel that he be suspended from the service of the House.

I hope that the House will now reflect on the findings in the report, and take quick action to uphold the suspension. I am pleased that this has shown the complaints procedure does work, and I hope it gives confidence to others to come forward.

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