House of Commons inquiry risks giving MPs accused of harassment ‘clean slate’, FDA warns
Responding to the launch of an independent inquiry into bullying and harassment in the House of Commons, FDA Assistant General Secretary Amy Leversidge said:
“Whilst we welcome the launch of the inquiry by Dame Laura Cox QC as an important step in revealing the extent of bullying and harassment in the House of Commons, our fear is that the inquiry is doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past if it does not consider previous and existing cases.
“It is disappointing that Dame Cox has announced the inquiry will not make determinations about past and existing cases of bullying and harassment, instead recommending that staff should use the existing Respect Policy which is not fit for purpose.
“Our view, supported by the testimony of many members of staff to the Newsnight investigation, is that the current policy has failed and must be replaced with a one that is truly independent from MPs at all stages, including any decisions on sanctions. Since the inquiry was set up with the intention to investigate the failings of the current Respect Policy it is evidently clear that directing staff to continue to use that policy is inappropriate.
“The failure to consider existing and past complaints by the inquiry will potentially result in a ‘clean slate’ for the perpetrators of bullying and harassment, rather than the promised closure for staff. This was a significant issue of concern when the Respect Policy was introduced and one of the reasons why staff have no confidence in the current system.
“The FDA urged the inquiry team to consider these fundamental issues before publishing their terms of reference and are frustrated that once again a ‘year zero’ approach could be adopted if any new policy is introduced.
“We will, of course, contribute to the inquiry and urge members to come forward with their experiences to build the broadest picture possible of the culture within the House of Commons.”