Peer who compared homosexuality to bestiality faces House of Lords suspension after bullying MPs with homophobic abuse
A member of the House of Lords who bullied three MPs and a security guard with homophobic language should be suspended for at least 18 months, the Lords conduct committee recommended.
The lengthy suspension of Lord Ken Maginnis, 82, would be among the longest ever handed down to a member of the upper House of Parliament.
It will be accompanied by mandatory behaviour change training, and has been threatened with a further suspension if he fails to engage constructively with the course.
“The extent of Lord Maginnis’ behaviour is now laid bare for all to read and my goodness is it a worrying and depressing read,” said Labour MP Hannah Bardell, who was one of the people targeted by his abuse.
“That someone who is in a position of such power and influence and who is a lawmaker, can think that it appropriate to behave in such a manner is truly astonishing.”
An inquiry found that on 8 January Lord Maginnis screamed abuse at a parliamentary security officer as he tried to enter the building without his pass, making the man feel “humiliated and worthless”.
The incident was raised in the House of Commons by Bardell, who called it “one of the worst cases of abuse of security staff I have seen”.
Lord Maginnis dismissed the MP’s concerns and said she only criticised him because she is “queer” and was seeking “cheap publicity” because of his opposition to same-sex marriage.
“Queers like Ms Bardell don’t particularly annoy me,” added the peer, who has previously compared homosexuality to bestiality.
Lord Maginnis claimed ‘discrimination by homos’
Maginnis was also found guilty of homophobic harassment of Labour MP Luke Pollard in a row following a meeting of the armed forces all party parliamentary group (APPG), where the peer accused Pollard of being the “worst chairman he had ever seen”.
Later in the evening he sent an email to James Gray MP, the actual chair of the APPG, which was copied to a number of other parliamentarians with the subject heading “Discrimination by Homos”.
In the email Lord Maginnis described his exchange with Pollard after the meeting as one in which Pollard had “threatened me with his ‘boyfriend'”.
He was found guilty of yet more homophobic harassment in another conversation that occurred days later, this time with Labour MP Toby Perkins, who asked the peer to explain the row.
He responded by being “homophobic, aggressive and disrespectful, including by making further homophobic remarks” about Pollard and Bardell, the report said.
Peer’s suspension was doubled because he showed ‘no remorse’
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Lord Maginnis’ suspension is twice the length recommended by the House of Lords standards commissioner. It was doubled because Lord Maginnis “showed very little insight into the impact of his behaviour on the complainants, and no remorse for the upset he had caused”.
He instead “portrayed himself as a victim of a conspiracy… and continued to refer to the complainants in a disobliging and sometimes offensive manner,” said the committee.
Hannah Bardell said she was glad the House of Lords took the matter so seriously and has “huge respect and appreciation” for the Lords commissioner and her team in their thorough job investigating Lord Maginnis’ behaviour.
“I am incredibly grateful to all who have supported me through this grim affair,” she said, including both her current and former partner who were “deeply affected” by Maginnis’ actions and the death threats that followed.
“As we seek to make politics and indeed the nations of the UK fairer and more just, we must root out abusive and homophobic behaviour such as that which I and others experienced at the hands of Lord Ken Maginnis,” she continued.
“I will never shy away from doing that and whilst this experience has had a profound impact on my mental and emotional health, I am glad I stood up and spoke out.”