Tory MP Rob Roberts set for six week suspension for sexual misconduct
The New European
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Tory MP Rob Roberts faces being suspended from the Commons for six weeks after a complaints panel found he broke parliament’s sexual misconduct policy.
The Independent Expert Panel (IEP) found that Roberts, MP for Delyn in North Wales, made repeated and unwanted sexual advances towards a man.
The suspension can only be imposed if agreed by MPs.
Sir Stephen Irwin, chairman of the IEP, said: “The misconduct demonstrated here was significant.”
He added: “Our conclusion is that the determination of six weeks suspension from the service of the House was proper and proportionate.”
Despite the lengthy proposed suspension, Roberts may escape facing a by-election in his Delyn seat as the process for a petition under the Recall of MPs Act 2015 is not triggered by a punishment imposed on the recommendation of the panel.
For a recall to be initiated, the sanction must be imposed on the recommendation of the Committee on Standards or a similar Commons committee.
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The complaint was made in June 2020 that Roberts made “repeated and unwanted sexual advances” to the person who made the complaint and also made “inappropriate comments of a sexual nature and was overly intrusive about his personal life”.
The IEP report said Roberts acknowledged that aspects of his behaviour towards the man who made the complaint were inappropriate, and offered an apology.
But he rejected the categorisation of his conduct as “sexual”, preferring the term “romantic”, the report said.
The case was investigated by the Parliamentary Commission for Standards who found Mr Roberts had breached the sexual misconduct policy.
The MP appealed to the IEP, first against the ruling and then against the proposed sanction.
The recommendation of a six-week suspension takes into account the “abuse of power or authority” by Roberts as an aggravating factor.
But the IEP acknowledged that was going through “several challenges and significant changes in his personal life when he breached the sexual misconduct policy”.
Roberts split from his wife and announced he was gay in 2020.
The panel said the sanction “reflects our view that the sexual misconduct found proved in this case amounts to a serious breach of the behaviour code which has significantly impacted the wellbeing of the reporter and has the propensity to undermine the legitimacy and authority of the House of Commons”.
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