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Independent Expert Panel recommends suspending Liam Byrne MP for bullying staff member

28 April 2022

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The Independent Expert Panel (IEP) has today (28 April) published a report recommending that Liam Byrne MP is suspended from the House of Commons for two days for a breach of Parliament’s Bullying and Harassment Policy.

Following an investigation by an independent investigator the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards upheld an allegation of bullying against Mr Byrne’s by a former member of his constituency staff made under Parliament’s Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS).

The Commissioner concluded that Mr Byrne had ostracized the complainant between March and July 2020. The ostracization followed a dispute between Mr Byrne and the complainant at the former’s constituency office, that had led him to send the complainant home. Mr Byrne did not appeal the decision.

The IEP sub-panel considering sanction found that Mr Byrne:

[…] sought to present his actions as a reasonable HR strategy in response to this incident. We disagree. It was bullying. He should, as he now accepts, have tackled any misconduct through a proper disciplinary process not by ostracizing the complainant.

The sub-panel concluded:

This case involves a serious breach of the Bullying and Harassment Policy which arose from the respondent abusing his position of power and ostracizing the complainant, who was his employee, by ceasing personal contact with him for several months and denying him access to his Parliamentary IT account. The impact of this behaviour was compounded by the fact that it occurred during the first period of lockdown when the complainant was physically separated from work colleagues, uncertain of his future work status and had undergone a period of ill health.

It recommended that Mr Byrne should be suspended from the House for two sitting days; on condition that he also make a written apology to the complainant; and undertake training and take action to address the causes of his behaviour and weaknesses in the management of his office.

Mr Byrne has accepted the sub-panel’s decision. The IEP’s report into the case sets out the sub-panel’s full decision and reasoning.