Labour MP set to be suspended from Commons for bullying employee

Politics

Labour MP Liam Byrne should be suspended from the House of Commons for two days for bullying a member of his constituency staff, a report has recommended.

Following an investigation by an independent investigator, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Kathryn Stone upheld the allegation of bullying against Mr Byrne made under Parliament’s Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS).

The Independent Expert Panel (IEP) considered the punishment for the MP for Birmingham Hodge Hill and said he should be temporarily banned from the Parliamentary Estate for two days for breaching Parliament’s Bullying and Harassment Policy.

Former cabinet minister Mr Byrne was found to have “ostracised” a former assistant after an office dispute, ceasing personal contact with him for several months and denying him access to his parliamentary IT account.

The incident occurred between March and July 2020.

“It was bullying,” the IEP said.

“He should, as he now accepts, have tackled any misconduct through a proper disciplinary process not by ostracizing the complainant.”

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Mr Byrne has also been asked to “make a written apology to the complainant and undertake training to take action to address the causes of his behaviour”.

Responding to the report, Mr Byrne said he is “profoundly sorry” for the incident and has “apologised in full to the individual concerned”.

“I am very lucky to work with an amazing, happy team of people, who together have almost 40 years of combined service to my constituents in our Westminster and Hodge Hill offices where we’re determined to provide the best possible service and voice to what is the most income-deprived constituency in England,” he said.

“However, two years ago at the beginning of lockdown, following a workplace dispute that led me to send the complainant home… I did not resolve the dispute correctly with a proper disciplinary process, and having nevertheless extended the complainant’s contract, thereby failed to fulfil my obligations as an employer and Parliament’s Behaviour Code.

“This constituted an ostracism which was a breach of Parliament’s Behaviour Code which I strongly support, and caused distress for which I am profoundly sorry. I have apologised in full to the individual concerned.

“I’m incredibly grateful to the panel for recognising the genuine remorse I felt about the impact on the individual concerned, the steps I have already taken to ensure this never happens again along with the work still to do, and for concluding that I did not deliberately act to delay the investigation.

“This has been a valuable lesson for me and one I am determined to learn as me and my team seek to offer the best possible service and voice for the residents of Hodge Hill.”

The Labour Party said it supported the proposed two-day suspension for Mr Byrne.

A party spokesman said: “The Labour Party fully supports the recommendations of this independent report, including the proposed sanction.”

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