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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Aubrey Allegretti

Misbehaving MPs: some of the 24 suspended from the current parliament

Peter Bone.
An independent panel recommended Peter Bone be suspended from parliament for six weeks. If upheld he would be the 25th MP to be suspended since the last election. Photograph: Neil Hall/EPA-EFE

Badly behaving MPs have made this “the worst parliament in history”, according to Chris Bryant, the former chair of the House of Commons standards committee.

He put the number of MPs who have faced at least a one-day suspension since the 2019 general election at 24.

Bryant said this was due to those in power turning a blind eye to poor conduct, a temptation by politicians to protect their own, and hard-to-change behaviours and attitudes in Westminster.

But it was also, he said, proof of improved systems to report and investigate those accused of inappropriate conduct.

As well as Peter Bone, the Conservative backbencher now facing a six-week suspension for bullying staff, a significant number of MPs have been castigated for inappropriate behaviour.

Chris Pincher

The deputy chief whip of former prime minister Boris Johnson faced an eight-week suspension for groping two men at a private members’ club in the summer of 2022. He unsuccessfully fought the sanction imposed by the standards committee for “completely inappropriate” behaviour, which was judged to be an abuse of power. Pincher quit as an MP before a recall petition could be opened in his Tamworth seat, speeding up the byelection process that will culminate on Thursday.

The row over Pincher’s behaviour posed uncomfortable questions for No 10, as Johnson had initially denied any prior knowledge about complaints against Pincher when he was appointed, later being forced to admit that was untrue.

Dominic Raab

In one of the biggest dents to Rishi Sunak’s promise to lead a government of integrity, his then deputy prime minister, Dominic Raab, was found to have intimidated civil servants after an inquiry into bullying allegations. A report, compiled by an employment barrister, said Raab acted in an “intimidating” manner towards Ministry of Justice officials, insulted their work and went beyond what was appropriate in delivering critical feedback. He also exhibited “unreasonably and persistently aggressive conduct” as foreign secretary, the report said. Raab argued that the findings created a “dangerous precedent” by setting the threshold for bullying “so low” – but he quit as he had promised to do if any allegations against him were upheld.

Gavin Williamson

Days into Sunak’s premiership, the prime minister saw one of his newly appointed Cabinet Office ministers forced to quit. Gavin Williamson was accused of telling a senior civil servant to “slit your throat” and “jump out of a window” when he was defence secretary, the Guardian revealed. He did not acknowledge wrongdoing but said he was standing down to avoid being a distraction. Texts later emerged from Williamson complaining to Wendy Morton, the chief whip, about not being invited to Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral – claiming he was being punished for not supporting Liz Truss in the Tory leadership contest. He wrote: “It’s very clear how you are going to treat a number of us, which is very stupid and you are showing fuck all interest in pulling things together. Don’t bother asking anything from me.”

Priti Patel

Patel was found to have broken the ministerial code in 2020 by bullying staff while home secretary, but she escaped punishment. Instances of shouting and swearing were uncovered by Alex Allan, the then prime minister’s ethics adviser. However, he was overridden by Boris Johnson, who ordered Tory MPs to “form a square around the Prittster”. Allan quit in protest.

Patrick Grady

The SNP’s former chief whip was suspended from parliament for two days for making an unwanted sexual advance on a teenage member of staff in 2019. The incident took place in 2016, at a work social event in a pub where Grady “made an unwanted sexual advance to the complainant that included the touching and stroking of the complainant’s neck, hair, and back”. Grady said afterwards that he was “profoundly sorry” for his behaviour. He had the SNP whip suspended for six months, but it was then restored.

Liam Byrne

The Labour MP and former minister committed a “serious breach” of bullying rules, a report in April 2022 found. Byrne was handed a two-day suspension from parliament for ostracising a staff member after sending him home in the aftermath of a falling-out at the constituency office. Byrne ceased contact with the employee for several months and denied him access to his IT account.

Rob Roberts

The MP for Delyn in north Wales repeatedly sexually harassed a member of staff, making unwanted advances and inappropriate comments of a sexual nature, an independent panel found. It recommended a six-week suspension and he had the Conservative whip withdrawn.

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