Labour MP Liam Byrne should be suspended from Commons for breaching bullying policy, expert panel recommends | Politics News


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

Liam Byrne, the MP for Birmingham Hodge Hill, was found to have “ostracised” a former assistant after an office dispute.

He ceased personal contact with him for five months in 2020 and denied him access to his parliamentary IT account.

After an independent investigation, Kathryn Stone, the parliamentary commissioner for standards, upheld the allegation against Mr Byrne.

The former Cabinet minister said he was “profoundly sorry” for the incident.

The Independent Expert Panel, which decides sanctions when complaints have been brought against MPs, said he should be temporarily banned from Parliament for two days for breaching its bullying and harassment policy.

“It was bullying,” the panel said.

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

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Mr Byrne, 51, was also asked to write an apology to the complainant and have training “to address the causes of his behaviour”.

The MP said he had “apologised in full to the individual concerned”.

“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”, he said.

“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.”

Labour said it supported his proposed two-day suspension.

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

The GMB union, which represents the former staff member, called for an overhaul of the way MPs’ staff are employed.

Jenny Symmons, chair of the GMB branch for members’ staff, said: “GMB welcomes the decision to uphold our member’s complaint of serious bullying and harassment.

“However, the sanction of an apology, a recommendation for training and a suspension of just two days is far beneath what is needed to address this kind of abuse.”


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