politics

Sex pest MP Rob Roberts suspended from Commons for six weeks – and is now being urged to quit


SEX pest MP Rob Roberts has been barred from the Commons for six weeks for harassing a member of staff – and is now facing calls to quit.

The ex Tory member for Delyn in North Wales will be banned from Westminster until mid-July after breaching sexual misconduct rules.

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Ex Tory MP Rob Roberts has breached Parliament's sexual misconduct rules

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Ex Tory MP Rob Roberts has breached Parliament’s sexual misconduct rules

And senior minister Jacob Rees-Mogg said he should now do the “honourable” thing and resign altogether.

MPs today overwhelmingly backed backed a motion calling for Mr Roberts’ temporary banishment.

But there has been fury that he’s set to dodge being kicked out of his seat because of a loophole in recall laws.

Mr Rees-Mogg fumed it’s “frankly ridiculous we have a higher sanction for somebody who uses a few envelopes incorrectly than for somebody who is involved in sexual misconduct”.

The Independent Expert Panel has concluded Mr Roberts breached Parliament’s sexual misconduct policy and recommended he be barred.

He’s also had the whip suspended by the Tory party.

But the defiant Welshman has vowed to fight on to continue to be an MP.

Over the next six weeks he will be banned from coming into Parliament and his salary will be suspended.

The panel upheld a complaint from a parliamentary staffer that he made unwanted sexual advances, calling him “attractive” and “alluring”.

Mr Roberts said that the incident occurred when he had left his marriage and come out as gay.

But the 40-year-old admitted that the “breach of trust was completely improper and should not have happened”.

MPs have voted to ban Mr Roberts from the Commons for six weeks

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MPs have voted to ban Mr Roberts from the Commons for six weeks
Jacob Rees-Mogg said the MP should do the 'honourable' thing and quit

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Jacob Rees-Mogg said the MP should do the ‘honourable’ thing and quitCredit: PA

But even though he has been suspended, his constituents have no power to force a by-election because the panel is toothless to propose such action.

For a recall to be happen, the sanction must be imposed on the recommendation of the Committee on Standards, or another Committee of the House of Commons concerned with standards of conduct.

The Independent Expert Panel doesn’t have the power to do it unless the law is changed.

Furious MPs are demanding this parliamentary blindspot be addressed so he can face the verdict of the voters.

The Whips office said he has had the whip suspended – not withdrawn – raising the possibility he’ll get it back after his suspension is up.

A spokesperson on behalf of the Whips’ Office said: “Following the publication of the Independent Expert Panel report into the conduct of Rob Roberts MP, his receipt of the Conservative Party whip has been suspended.”

Labour are demanding he throws in the towel and resign immediately, despite rules which say he can keep his seat unless a Commons group finds him guilty of the offences and recommends he face a recall.

Deputy leader Angela Rayner blasted: “Rob Roberts MP should resign immediately.

“The fact that such serious abuse doesn’t automatically result in the recall of an MP is absurd and unjust and the Labour Party will support legislation to rectify that injustice. He should not be in his role for another single day more.”

Chairman of the Standards Committee Chris Bryant said the loophole was a “glaring anomaly” – and warned it looked like MPs were taking their finances more seriously than sexual harassment.

Labour Party chair Anneliese Dodds demanded Mr Roberts quit as an MP and lashed out at the loophole preventing him from being recalled.

She said: “That such serious and proven abuse doesn’t automatically result in the recall of a sitting Member of Parliament is both absurd and unjust.”

Asked if Downing Street would intervene, the PM’s official spokesperson said: “The Government is now considering the next steps and will update shortly.”

As he faced mounting pressure to resign, Mr Roberts texted Tory MPs informing them he had been stripped of the Conservative whip.

Before leaving a group WhatsApp chat he wrote: “I no longer have the Conservative Whip therefore it would seem to be appropriate to leave the group until such a time as it is restored.

“I wouldn’t want to put anyone else in the position of having to explain why we’re still in a group together, albeit not an official party one.”

Some Tory MPs rallied round their embattled colleague, saying he deserved “friendship”.

The member for Delyn in North Wales has also been stripped of the Conservative party whip

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The member for Delyn in North Wales has also been stripped of the Conservative party whip

Mr Roberts was found by Commons watchdog to have sexually harassed a male member of parliamentary staff.

The complainant claimed that Mr Roberts made an advance while they were alone in the car together.

The MP said: “I find you very attractive and alluring and I need you to make attempts to be less alluring in the office because it’s becoming very difficult for me.”

The staffer rejected the MP’s advances and stressed he wanted to keep their relationship professional.

But Mr Roberts repeated his feelings for the man and persisted to invite him out for dinner.

Mr Roberts denied this amounted to “sexual” harassment, instead describing his messages as “romantic” but “clumsy”.

But the watchdog said: “Something can still be considered sexual harassment even if the alleged harasser did not mean for it to be”.

Watchdog chair Sir Stephen Irwin said: “The misconduct demonstrated here was significant.

“It is evident that Mr Roberts MP was in a very powerful position as an employer in relation to the reporter.

“Our conclusion is that the determination of six weeks suspension from the service of the House was proper and proportionate.”

The complainant said he was “relieved” by the watchdog’s report and welcomed the recommendation of a six-week suspension.

Another alleged victim of Mr Roberts was furious he had not been subject to a recall petition which could see him kicked out as an MP.

They told The Sun: “I feel sick and unsafe – like I don’t think I can be on the Parliamentary estate.”

Mr Roberts is also accused of asking a young female intern to “fool around” with him after telling her she had “lovely legs”.

He messaged the 21-year-old after commenting on a Twitter photo.

The woman said the 40-year-old MP sent her a series of messages earlier this year, telling a BBC Wales investigation they made her feel “incredibly sick”.

Mr Roberts, who publicly came out as gay earlier this year, told the woman: “I might be gay but I enjoy fun times”.

He added: “Don’t ignore me when I’m making you feel better.”

In a statement today Mr Roberts said: “In the first half of 2020, I was in a particularly challenging place personally and had taken the decision to leave my marriage of 15 years and come out as being gay. 

“At around the same time, I asked a male member of Parliamentary staff to dinner in the hope of striking up a personal relationship.  I recognise that this breach of trust in the MP-Staff relationship was completely improper and should not have happened.

“I apologised at the time and do so again to the complainant but also to my colleagues, family and most importantly my constituents.

“I will continue to do my utmost to serve my constituency as I have over the past 18 months since my election, and this judgement will not alter my resolve to ensure that the people of Delyn get the assistance they need with pressing local issues. 

“It is the greatest honour of my life to represent the constituency in which I grew up and have lived my whole life, and I will work tirelessly to restore any faith which has been lost by this ruling.

“I have no further comment to make on the situation and will continue to go about my non-Parliamentary work as before, providing as much assistance and representation to my constituents as I can.”





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