Dozens Of MPs and Commons Staff Urge 'Immediate' Uptake Of Bullying Report Recommendations

Isabel Togoh

Dozens of MPs and parliamentary staff who have experienced bullying or harassment have signed a letter urging the Commons supervisory body to implement recommendations of a report into abusive behaviour in the institution.

The cross-party effort was signed by 83 former and current members of staff who have all “personally experienced, or seen first hand, bullying or harassment by Members of Parliament left to go unchallenged”.

Labour’s Jess Phillips and Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston were among the signatories calling for the Commons Commission to “immediately” heed the recommendations of a damning report by ex-judge Dame Laura Cox into misconduct and a culture of abuse in Westminster.

The letter read: “Dame Laura Cox’s report has exposed Westminster’s open secret - a minority of parliamentarians have been allowed to get away with this behaviour for years.

“We support the conclusions of the Cox report and call upon the House of Commons, led by the House of Commons Commission, immediately to implement its three key recommendations.”

A minority of parliamentarians have been allowed to get away with this behaviour for years

The recommendations include abandoning two policies - the ‘Valuing Others’ and ‘Revised Respect’ rules - which the Cox report criticised for being obstructive, ineffective and lacking independence.

The Cox inquiry also recommends the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme, established last November in response to high-profile allegations, is expanded to investigate historic complaints.

It also recommends the Commission takes steps to ensure MPs do not interfere in complaints made against their parliamentary colleagues.

The letter added: “Our House of Commons is at the core of our democratic system and has been seen as a model around the world. We want a parliament we can be proud of.

“The Commission owes a duty of care to the staff it employs. Fulfilling this duty should be a matter of HR not politics.”

Dame Laura’s investigation was launched after allegations of inappropriate behaviour were launched against a number of senior staff, including Commons speaker John Bercow.

Her report called for a “seismic shift” after it found that staff had been “tested to breaking point by a culture of deference, subservience, acquiescence and silence”.

Among the allegations of bullying and harassment detailed in the report were frequent and inappropriate touching, men attempting to kiss women or to grab or stroke women’s arms or breast.

Some members of staff complained of being belittled and being treated “like servants” in bullying allegations that stretch back at least 10 years.

The Commission will next meet on Wednesday.