More than 70 Parliamentary staff complain after Lords fail to suspend peer over sexual harassment claims

More than 70 Parliamentary staff complain after Lords fail to suspend peer over sexual harassment claims

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

More than 70 Parliamentary staff have written to the senior deputy Speaker of the Lords to protest the peers’ decision to stop the barring of Lord Lester who is accused of sexual harassment.

The Privileges and Conduct Committee ruled last week that Lord Lester of Herne Hill should be suspended from the House of Lords until 2022.

An inquiry found that he had breached the Lords code of conduct by groping a woman and promising her a peerage in return for sex.

Peers in the House of Lords voted against the ruling on Thursday, after objections from Lord Pannick, who said the process had been unfair. 

 

'Flawed and unfair' 

Lord Lester has denied the claims that he propositioned and groped women’s rights campaigner Jasvinder Sanghera in 2006.

"These allegations are completely untrue. I produced evidence which clearly demonstrated that what I was said to have done 12 years ago did not happen," he said.

"Independent counsel who previously advised the Committee on its procedures provided an advice which concluded that the investigation was flawed and unfair. I regret the Committee’s conclusions in the light of these materials.

"There has to be a fair process for investigating sexual harassment claims in Parliament.

"Parliament is supposed to be a bastion of the rule of law but calls for fundamental reform of this procedure have been ignored for 20 years. I hope to be judged by my work over decades for gender equality, race relations and free speech."

The case will return to the Privileges and Conduct Committee after peers voted 101 to 78 to support the motion put forward by Lord Pannick.

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