Tory MP Rob Roberts faces suspension over sexual misconduct breach

Josh Milton May 25, 2021
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Tory MP for Delyn Rob Roberts

Tory MP for Delyn, Rob Roberts. (Parliament)

British Tory MP Rob Roberts has had the whip stripped and faces a weeklong suspension for breaching parliament’s sexual harassment policy.

The disgraced lawmaker, 41, was found by a House of Commons complaints watchdog to have broken parliament’s sexual misconduct policy – a conclusion Roberts emphatically denied.

In the report, published Tuesday (25 May) by the Independent Expert Panel which assesses misconduct complaints, Roberts was found to be made unwanted sexual advances towards a staffer.

A six-week-long suspension was determined as an appropriate sanction by the panel, but this would only be enforced if MPs support it in a House of Commons vote.

For now, the Conservative Party has taken away the whip from Roberts. He will be able to sit in the Commons as an independent MP.

The MP for Delyn in North Wales apologised for his actions, saying the “breach of trust” was “completely improper and should not have happened”, Sky News reported.

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

Panel members wrote how Roberts admitted that “aspects of his behaviour” towards the staffer were “inappropriate”. However, he “rejected the categorisation of his conduct as ‘sexual’, preferring the term ‘romantic’.”

Rob Roberts allegedly asked staffer to be ‘less alluring’

“The misconduct demonstrated here was significant,” explained IEP chair sir Stephen Irwin.

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

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

In an interview with BBC Wales, the staffer claimed that Roberts repeatedly propositioned him during his time in office. At one point, Roberts asked him to be “less alluring”.

The complainant added he was made to feel “uncomfortable” and was “shocked” and “horrified” by Roberts’ behaviour.

At one point, he and Roberts sat alone together in the officeholder’s car. There, Roberts allegedly 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.”

In June 2020, the staffer, who moved to a new job in light of the experience, reported Roberts to parliament’s Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme for sexual misconduct. Tuesday’s decision was one of the first cases judged by the panel.

The prime minister’s official spokesperson told Sky News: “The government is now considering next steps and will update shortly.

“There might be more from the Leader of the House who is committed to bringing forward motions to implement sanctions recommended by the independent panel.”

Opposition lawmakers, meanwhile, demanded that Roberts resign.

“The report fully upholds the sexual harassment allegations made against Rob Roberts MP,” Labour Party chair Anneliese Dodds tweeted.

“He should therefore resign his seat with immediate effect.”

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