Ex-Labour MP Keith Vaz should be ashamed of bullying behaviour, Parliament watchdog says

© PA Keith Vaz

Former senior Labour parliamentarian Keith Vaz should never get an ex-MP’s pass back after being found to have committed “sustained and unpleasant bullying, with a real and enduring psychological impact” on the victim.

An Independent Expert Panel found he had breached the Commons bullying and harassment policy with his actions which led to a clerk quitting her job.

Sir Stephen Irwin, Chair of the IEP, said: “The Respondent’s conduct to the complainant was hostile, sustained, harmful and unworthy of a Member of Parliament. He should be ashamed of his behaviour.”

The IEP gave its verdict on Mr Vaz, chairman of the Commons home affairs committee from July 2007 to September 2016, following complaints from the committee’s second clerk.

The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards concluded that Mr Vaz had, on several occasions between July 2007 and October 2008, breached the bullying and harassment policy in his interactions with the complainant.

A sub-panel of the Independent Expert Panel was appointed to determine the sanction to be imposed.

Mr Vaz was said to have not communicated with the sub-panel in “any way”.

The sub-panel “carefully considered” claims from Mr Vaz’s medical adviser that he was too ill to participate in its proceedings.

A review was carried out into the former MP’s ongoing public media and political activity.

The sub-panel concluded that it did not doubt that he had health problems, but found that “there was no good basis” for concluding that those health problems precluded him from engagement.

The sub-panel concluded that, if Mr Vaz currently held a Commons pass as a former MP it would have been appropriate to remove it.

It added that his eligibility to hold a former Member’s pass should never be restored.

A 2019 report from the House of Commons Committee on Standards, approved by the House, concluded that Mr Vaz should not be eligible for a former Member’s pass for a separate breach of the House of Commons Code of Conduct.

Sir Stephen Irwin, Chair of the IEP said: “The sub-panel found that the Respondent’s misconduct represented sustained and unpleasant bullying, with a real and enduring psychological impact; and that it led to the Complainant leaving her career in the House of Commons. It concluded that if he currently held a pass to the House of Commons as a former Member it would have been ap-propriate to remove it. His eligibility to hold a former Member’s pass should never be restored.

“The Respondent’s conduct deserves a clear and formal reprimand. The Respondent’s conduct to the complainant was hostile, sustained, harmful and unworthy of a Member of Parliament. He should be ashamed of his behaviour.”

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