Bullying on the Commons Media Committee: FDA condemns media speculation and calls for a fully independent investigation of complaint

29 April 2012
For immediate release

Responding to comments reported in today's Mail on Sunday by Paul Farrelly MP and other unnamed MPs, about complaints of bullying against Mr Farrelly by five staff at the House of Commons, Rob O'Neill, the FDA's national officer for the House of Commons, said:

"MPs are well aware that Commons staff are not able to comment and defend themselves in public. Five staff have made complaints against Mr Farrelly of bullying. It is not unreasonable to expect that allegations of workplace bullying should be investigated with the full co-operation of all involved without the added complication of media intervention and speculation.

"It is absolutely unacceptable that hard working public servants who observe high standards of confidentiality and impartiality in their working lives should have details of their employment leaked to the press by MPs, and thus become subject to unpleasant and misinformed speculation. For the avoidance of doubt, we do not believe it was Mr Farrelly who leaked any such information to the media in respect of the allegations made against him.

"This case is the first test of the new Respect procedure developed by the House of Commons to tackle staff allegations of bullying and harassment by MPs. While welcoming the recognition that bullying of staff by MPs needed to be tackled, the FDA has significant reservations about the effectiveness of the Respect procedure and has argued for a fully independent process to investigate such complaints. MPs cannot continue to regard themselves as people apart from ordinary taxpayers and be able to ignore the standards of behaviour that would be expected in any modern workplace."

Notes for editors

1. The FDA is the trade union and professional body representing 18,000 of the UK's senior civil and public servants. Our members include policy advisors, senior managers, tax inspectors, economists, statisticians, accountants, special advisers, government lawyers, diplomats, crown prosecutors and NHS managers.

2. Members in HMRC are represented by the Association of Revenue and Customs (ARC), a section of the FDA.

3. The FDA (formerly the First Division Association) should be referred to simply as "The FDA" and can be described as "the senior public servants' union".

4. For further information contact:

  • Rob O'Neill, FDA National Officer, tel: 07764 655747.
  • Kay Hender, Communications Officer, tel: 07980 700747.