Her appointment follows a decision by the House of Lords Commission, on 5 November 2018, to ask its two independent members, Liz Hewitt and Mathew Duncan, to identify an independent expert to look at these issues and agree suitable terms of reference for the inquiry. It is currently anticipated that Ms Ellenbogen’s findings and recommendations will be laid before the House of Lords Commission in the Spring of 2019.
The inquiry will consider issues impacting directly on the culture of the House of Lords as a workplace. It is an inquiry, not an investigation. Ms Ellenbogen will, therefore, not be investigating any individual complaints, or reopening past cases. The inquiry will, however, consider the options available for resolving current and historical allegations and the support available to those affected. It will make recommendations for improvement of the workplace culture, so that all those working in the House of Lords are treated with dignity and respect. It will also make recommendations for improvement of the way in which complaints of bullying and harassment are handled.
Ms Ellenbogen will shortly be writing to all current members and staff of the House of Lords asking them to come forward with any information regarding perceived bullying or harassment. She will also be writing to those who were members or staff during the last six years. Those members and staff, both present and past, who have experienced bullying or harassment, or who have information about it, will be able to submit written information directly to Ms Ellenbogen with confidential, follow-up meetings, as necessary.
No contributor to the inquiry will be identified and all submissions will be treated in complete confidence.
The work of the inquiry will be in addition to, but separate from, the continuing work of the Working Group on an Independent Complaints and Grievance Policy.
Announcing the appointment, The Lord Speaker said:
“As chairman of the House of Lords Commission, I am delighted that Ms Naomi Ellenbogen QC has been appointed to conduct the inquiry into the nature and extent of bullying and harassment here in the House of Lords. Her experience and expertise are formidable. I would encourage anyone who has experienced bullying and harassment in the course of their work at or with the House of Lords to come forward. I emphasise that this is an entirely independent inquiry which will examine all evidence thoroughly. Bullying and harassment has no place in the House of Lords and I can give a categorical assurance that we will do everything we can to eliminate it.”