MP Rob Roberts faces six-week suspension for sexual misconduct

An MP who has repeatedly made unwanted sexual advances to a staff member faces a six-week suspension from the House of Commons.

Rob Roberts was fired as Conservative whip after a complaints committee found he abused his position of authority and violated Parliament’s sexual misconduct policy.

The disgraced MP apologized and said the “breach of trust” was “completely inappropriate and should not have happened”.

The Independent Panel of Experts (IEP) found that Mr Roberts made repeated and unwanted advances to the man, although the MP insisted his actions were “romantic” rather than sexual.

The suspension will only be imposed if approved by MPs and a loophole means Mr Roberts can escape the prospect of his constituents forcing a by-election despite the severe sanction.

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

“It is evident that Mr. Roberts MP was in a very powerful position as an employer compared to the journalist.

“Our conclusion is that the determination of a six-week suspension from House service was appropriate and proportionate.”

Despite the prospect of a six-week Westminster suspension, the petition process to force a by-election under the MPs Recall Act 2015 is not triggered by a sanction imposed on the recommendation of the IEP , which did not exist when the law was passed.

For a recall to be issued, the sanction must be imposed on the recommendation of the Standards Committee or a similar committee of the Commons.

The complaint was filed in June 2020 that Mr. Roberts made “repeated and unwanted sexual advances” to the person who made the complaint and also made “inappropriate comments of a sexual nature and overly intrusive in his personal life” .

The IEP report states that Mr Roberts admitted that certain aspects of his behavior towards the man who complained were inappropriate and apologized.

The case was the subject of an investigation by the Parliamentary Standards Committee which found that Mr. Roberts had violated the policy of sexual misconduct.

The deputy appealed to the IEP, first against the decision, then against the proposed sanction.

The recommendation for a six-week suspension takes into account Mr. Roberts’ “abuse of power or authority” as an aggravating factor.

But the IEP admitted he was going through “several significant challenges and changes in his personal life when he broke the Sexual Misconduct Policy.”

Mr Roberts has separated from his wife and announced he was gay in 2020.

The panel said the sanction “reflects our view that the sexual misconduct found in this case amounts to a serious violation of the code of conduct which has had a significant impact on the well-being of the journalist and tends to undermine the legitimacy and authority of the House of Commons “.

The former staff member of the MP who complained told BBC Wales that Mr Roberts had offered her on several occasions and asked her to “be less attractive”.

The former employee said he was “uncomfortable”, “shocked” and “horrified” by the MP’s behavior.

The complainant started working for the newly elected Roberts in early 2020 and said the MP made his “first advance” 10 days later.

The staff member, who wishes to remain anonymous, told BBC Wales they were alone in a car together on a constituency visit when Mr Roberts said: ‘I find you very attractive and attractive and I have need you to try to be less attractive in the office. because it becomes very difficult for me.

Mr Roberts said: “In the first half of 2020 I was personally in a particularly difficult situation and made the decision to leave my 15-year marriage and go gay.

“Around the same time, I asked a male member of the parliamentary staff for dinner in the hopes of forming a personal relationship. I recognize that this breach of trust in the MP-staff relationship was totally inappropriate and should not have happened.

“I apologized at the time and I do so again to the complainant, but also to my colleagues, my family and, most importantly, my constituents.

“I will continue to do my best to serve my constituency, as I have done for the past 18 months since being elected, and this judgment will not change my determination to ensure that the people of Delyn receive the help they get.” need to address urgent local issues.

“It is the greatest honor of my life to represent the riding in which I have grown up and lived all my life, and I will work tirelessly to restore any faith that was lost by this decision.

A spokesperson for the Conservative Party said: “We would like to apologize to the individual concerned for the inappropriate and unjustified treatment to which he was subjected by a person in a position of authority.

“There is no room for the behavior they have been subjected to and we praise their courage to come forward.

“In light of the outcome of the standards inquiry, MP Rob Roberts has suspended the Conservative Party whip.

Downing Street has suggested the loophole preventing a by-election could be closed.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesperson said: “The government is now considering the next steps and will update shortly.”

Labor President Anneliese Dodds has called on Mr Roberts to step down and pushed for emergency legislation to address the recall issue.

“The report fully confirms the allegations of sexual harassment made against the MP Rob Roberts. He should therefore resign from his seat with immediate effect, ”she said.

“That such serious and proven abuses do not automatically lead to the recall of a sitting MP is both absurd and unfair.

“The Conservative government cannot get around the loopholes in the legislation if it is serious about respecting the standards of public life.

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