U.K. Conservative MP Faces Suspension Over Sexual Misconduct
(Bloomberg) -- A Conservative Party lawmaker should be suspended for six weeks for breaching Parliament’s sexual misconduct policy, an independent panel said Wednesday, triggering criticism that the punishment was too lenient.
The report came after Rob Roberts, 41, was accused of making unwanted sexual advances toward a male staff member, all of which were declined. The complaint also said he had made “inappropriate comments of a sexual nature.”
In October, the lawmaker was found, on the balance of probabilities, to have engaged in sexual misconduct. Roberts’ appeal that the probe was “materially flawed” has now been dismissed, an independent panel said on Wednesday.
Sexual harassment in the workplace came to the fore in the aftermath of 2017 accusations against movie producer Harvey Weinstein and subsequently spread to everything from business and government around the globe. Members of the opposition Labour Party have called on Roberts to resign and he has already been stripped of the Tory party whip.
In a statement, Roberts said the misconduct took place during a “particularly challenging” time having “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,” Roberts wrote. “I recognize that this breach of trust in the MP-Staff relationship was completely improper and should not have happened.”
The suspension still has to be confirmed by the House of Commons.
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