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Thursday 23 September 2021

Unwillingness to address Vaz bullying at the time should 'weigh heavy' on Parliament, says FDA

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Responding to the publication of the Independent Expert Panel report into the conduct of former MP Keith Vaz, FDA General Secretary Dave Penman paid tribute to the courage of Jenny McCullough, who brought the complaint and agreed to waive her right to confidentiality. Penman described how, by doing so, she had “not only shone a light on reprehensible conduct and behaviour of a senior member of Parliament, but also the inability of both Parliament and political parties to address these issues in the past".

In setting out its decision, the Independent Expert Panel described Vaz's conduct as "hostile, sustained, harmful and unworthy of a Member of Parliament", and said he "should be ashamed of his behaviour." The panel recommended that his eligibility to hold a former member's parliamentary pass "should never be restored". 

As reported by the Mirror and the Herald, Penman described how the report “could not paint a clearer picture of sustained, inappropriate conduct that not only caused harm to a committed public servant, but caused her to leave the service”. He added that the conduct would have been visible to fellow MPs, whips and managers, and the failure to address these issues at the time “should weigh heavy on all who had the opportunity and power to address them”.

Penman commended the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards and the Independent Expert Panel “not only on the thoroughness of their report, but in their determination to bring it to a conclusion despite the attempts by Keith Vaz to avoid being held accountable for his conduct,” adding that it was “clear that an independent process was – and remains – necessary to ensure this kind of behaviour does not go unchallenged”.

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