Former Labour MP breached parliament’s bullying and harassment policy, report finds

UK

Former Labour MP and minister Keith Vaz breached parliament’s bullying and harassment policy, an investigation by its standards watchdog has found.

The Independent Expert Panel said his actions towards former Commons clerk Jenny McCullough “represented sustained and unpleasant bullying” that had a “real and enduring psychological impact” and led to the complainant leaving her role in the Commons.

On her account, the effect of the Respondent’s behaviour was to undermine the Complainant and rob her of confidence in her judgment and abilities, so that ultimately she felt compelled to leave her work in the House of Commons,” the report noted.

“The respondent’s conduct to the complainant was hostile, sustained, harmful and unworthy of a Member of Parliament,” it also said.

“He should be ashamed of his behaviour.”

The allegations related to Mr Vaz’s conduct towards Ms McCullough between July 2007 and October 2008, when he was chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee and she was its second clerk.

She agreed to be identified in the panel’s report.

More on Keith Vaz

Mr Vaz stood down as MP for Leicester East at the 2019 general election, having represented the constituency since 1987.

The panel said that had he held a Commons pass as a former MP, “we would have determined that it was appropriate to remove that pass”.

It added: “As things are, we determine that eligibility to hold a former Member’s pass should never be restored.”

The report said Mr Vaz initially engaged with the panel’s investigator – but prior to a scheduled interview in September 2020 he informed the commissioner that he was “not well enough to engage further with the investigation”.

“She [the commissioner] concluded, after seeking further medical reports, that she should instruct the investigator to bring their investigation to a conclusion without interviewing the Respondent.”

The panel’s report said it had received “significant communication” from Mr Vaz’s medical adviser, as well as his sister, and “the thrust of these communications was to emphasise that the Respondent was too unwell to take part in the sub-panel’s proceedings, and, by inference, that therefore they should be abandoned”.

But the report concluded: “Following a review of publicly available material demonstrating the Respondent’s ongoing public media and political activity, the sub-panel concluded that it did not doubt that the Respondent has health problems, but that there was no good basis for concluding those health problems preclude him from engagement with the Panel, if only in writing.”

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