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Wednesday 08 November 2023

FDA calls for party leaders to commit to action on precautionary exclusion at Westminster

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The FDA, along with Prospect, have called on the leaders of the major parties at Westminster to commit to a “formal protocol” that would see relevant information shared with the House of Commons Service when an MP is placed under a party investigation for an alleged sexual offence.

FDA General Secretary Dave Penman said:

“Just as the House authorities have a responsibility to protect staff when they are made aware of serious allegations against MPs, so do the parties themselves. We cannot have a situation where the parties are aware of serious allegations and do not act to protect employees of the House.

“Precautionary exclusion would be used in workplaces up and down the country where allegations of violent or sexual misconduct are being investigated. Parliament should be no different and the parties need to live up to their rhetoric on taking these issues seriously, and protecting those for whom Parliament is a workplace like any other.”

In the joint letter to the party leaders, Penman and Prospect General Secretary Mike Clancy said that a “new approach to information sharing” was required that “both maintains the confidentiality that is so crucial in these investigations, while permitting the limited sharing of information… that would allow precautionary measures to be put in place to protect all staff and visitors to Parliament”.

The letter pointed out that repeated reports of alleged sexual misconduct were “not confined to one political party” and that “some of these allegations have taken months, if not years, to investigate, while in the meantime the alleged perpetrators are free to attend the Parliamentary Estate, and the House Service is unable to take any precautionary measures to protect its staff”.

Calling for party leaders to commit to action, Penman and Clancy concluded:

“The reputation of Parliament - and of politics more generally - continues to be tarnished by the seemingly endless allegations of sexual misconduct by MPs. The trust and confidence of parliamentary staff - let alone the wider public - cannot be re-established unless the parties themselves commit to take stronger action, and to act with Parliament to ensure the highest possible standards.”
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