Which politicians have been punished for bullying and bad behaviour?

·5-min read
Liam Byrne was found to have bullied a member of staff at his constituency office (Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament/PA) (PA Media)
Liam Byrne was found to have bullied a member of staff at his constituency office (Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament/PA) (PA Media)

The behaviour of politicians in Parliament is coming under scrutiny after a Labour MP was found by an independent panel to have bullied a member of staff and a Tory MP was accused of watching pornography in the Commons.

The Independent Expert Panel (IEP) said Labour’s Liam Byrne, the Birmingham Hodge Hill MP, should be suspended from the House of Commons for two days after he was found to have bullied former staff member David Barker.

Mr Byrne has apologised to the complainant while Labour said it supports the proposed suspension.

Separately on Thursday, a female MP accused a member of Sir Keir Starmer’s shadow cabinet of making inappropriate comments towards her.

Meanwhile, Conservative party chief whip Chris Heaton-Harris has called for an independent investigation after the allegations about the unnamed MP watching porn surfaced during a meeting of Tory MPs on Tuesday.

The disciplinary process could lead to a recommendation that the MP is suspended or forced out of the Commons if a complaint is upheld.

Here is a list of other MPs who have been suspended or banned from holding a parliamentary pass in the last year.

– Former House of Commons speaker John Bercow

Former speaker John Bercow (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Wire)
Former speaker John Bercow (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Wire)

Mr Bercow received a lifetime ban from holding a parliamentary pass in March after being found to be a “serial bully” by the IEP.

The panel, which determines appeals and sanctions in cases where bullying complaints have been brought against MPs, backed an initial inquiry held by Parliamentary Standards Commissioner Kathryn Stone.

The role of the commissioner is to investigate allegations that MPs have breached the rules.

Ms Stone upheld 21 allegations against Mr Bercow from three complainants, all House of Commons staff at the time, relating to the period 2009 to 2014.

Mr Bercow, who was suspended from Labour pending further investigation, appealed against the commissioner’s findings to the IEP but it upheld her verdicts without exception.

Following the publication of the report, Mr Bercow disputed the findings, describing the investigation as a “travesty of justice”, and insisted there was no reason to apologise.

– Former Labour MP Keith Vaz

Former Labour MP Keith Vaz (Dominic Lipinski/PA) (PA Archive)
Former Labour MP Keith Vaz (Dominic Lipinski/PA) (PA Archive)

In September, the IEP published a report which said former Leicester East MP Keith Vaz bullied a member of parliamentary staff in a “hostile, sustained, (and) harmful” way.

It found there was “significant misconduct” and Sir Stephen Irwin, chairman of the IEP, said Mr Vaz “should be ashamed of his behaviour”.

He was banned from holding a parliamentary pass. He had retired as an MP in November 2019.

The report detailed how Mr Vaz had failed to engage in the investigation due to claims over ill health, with the inference that the investigation should be abandoned.

A spokesperson for Mr Vaz told Sky News he “has never seen the report, nor has he had the chance to question any witnesses or provide a response” to something they described as a “deeply fractured process which has cost the taxpayer thousands of pounds”.

– Conservative MP Daniel Kawczynski

Daniel Kawczynski MP (Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament/PA) (PA Media)
Daniel Kawczynski MP (Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament/PA) (PA Media)

In June, Daniel Kawczynski made a public apology in the House of Commons after being found to have bullied parliamentary committee staff.

A report by the IEP said the MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham acted in a “threatening and intimidating manner” towards the complainants after he was unable to join a committee hearing due to technical issues.

He was later suspended for one day from the House of Commons after he was said to have undermined his apology by the Commons Standards Committee.

Mr Kawczynski said he “acknowledged” that he had undermined the apology and would send a written apology to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, the chairman of the IEP and the original complainants.

– Independent MP Rob Roberts

Rob Roberts MP now sits as an independent (UK Parliament/PA (PA Media)
Rob Roberts MP now sits as an independent (UK Parliament/PA (PA Media)

Rob Roberts was stripped of the Tory whip last year after the IEP found he broke the sexual misconduct policy by making repeated and unwanted advances to a man.

Mr Roberts, who became an MP in 2019, apologised for the “completely improper” behaviour but insisted his actions were “romantic” rather than sexual.

The Commons approved a motion to suspend Mr Roberts from the House for six weeks in May, in line with the recommendation from the independent panel.

The Conservatives suspended him from the party for twice that duration while senior figures including Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg urged Mr Roberts to do the “honourable” thing and stand down as an MP.

He became a Tory party member again in November following the 12-week suspension. However he remains an independent MP as the Tories are withholding the party whip in the House of Commons.

– Former Labour MP Mike Hill

Last May, the IEP found former Hartlepool MP Mr Hill committed two breaches of Parliament’s sexual misconduct rules in relation to his behaviour towards a woman in both his parliamentary office and his flat.

Mr Hill resigned as an MP before the panel could impose a sanction for his behaviour.

The report said that had he not resigned “we would have likely considered recommending the sanction of suspension from the House”.

The IEP made the findings after an appeal was lodged following an initial report by the Parliamentary Commission for Standards, which found one breach was made.

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said Mr Hill should be denied a parliamentary pass as a former member.

An employment tribunal has also been held into the case, with a decision likely to be made towards the end of June.

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