Tory MP Rob Roberts facing six-week ban from Commons over sex pest allegations

·3-min read
 (UK Parliament)
(UK Parliament)

Tory MP Rob Roberts should be suspended for six weeks for breaching Parliament’s sexual misconduct policy, an independent panel has concluded.

The Conservative MP for Delyn in North Wales has been accused of making “repeated and unwanted sexual advances” towards a male member of parliamentary staff.

The report by the Independent Expert Panel claimed that Mr Roberts also made “inappropriate comments of a sexual nature” and was “overly intrusive” about his personal life.

If agreed by MPs, Mr Roberts now faces a suspension.

Sir Stephen Irwin, chairman of the IEP, said: “The misconduct demonstrated here was significant”.

He said “It is evident that Mr Roberts MP was in a very powerful position” in relation to the member of staff.

“Our conclusion is that the determination of six weeks suspension from the service of the House was proper and proportionate”, he added.

Mr Roberts has had the Tory whip suspended following the report’s release.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said the government is now considering its “next steps” and added: “There might be more from the Leader of the House who is committed to bringing forward motions to implement sanctions recommended by the independent panel.”

Asked about the loophole which means constituents might not be able to force a by-election, the spokesman said: “We are considering next steps and will update shortly.”

In a statement following the release of the report, the reporter of the allegations said he felt “relieved” and he welcomed the recommendation that Mr Roberts be suspended.

He added: “This has been a long process, and I am grateful to the Commissioner, the Investigator, and the members of the various panels for their considered approach in this case.

“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.”

Mr Roberts said: "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 judgment 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."

A Conservative Party spokesman said: "We would like to apologise to the individual concerned for the inappropriate and unwarranted treatment they were subjected to by someone in a position of authority.

"There is no place for the behaviour they were subjected to and we praise their courage in coming forward.

"In light of the outcome of the standards investigation, Rob Roberts MP has had the Conservative Party whip suspended."

Labour's chairwoman Anneliese Dodds called for Mr Roberts to resign and pressed for emergency legislation to address the recall issue.

"The report fully upholds the sexual harassment allegations made against Rob Roberts MP. He should therefore resign his seat with immediate effect," she said.

"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."

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