214.On 6 March, Mr Pollard wrote to me to complain about Lord Maginnis’s conduct during a dinner hosted by the APPG on the Armed Forces—which included a talk by a senior member of the Royal Navy followed by questions and answers chaired by Mr Pollard—and in emails sent by Lord Maginnis to the Chair of the APPG, James Gray MP, and others.
“I am writing to submit a complaint against Lord Ken Maginnis for his repeated homophobic attacks on me.
I was chairing a dinner on 11 February 2020 for the All Party Armed Forces Group where I am the Vice-Chairman with responsibility for the Royal Navy. The dinner was very well attended and the guest speaker, Vice Admiral Blount, was answering questions. I had signalled at the start of the dinner that as this was the first Royal Navy dinner since the election I would be giving preference towards new members and those existing members would have to excuse this new priority as they may not be called as it was a busy dinner.
During the dinner I noted down names of those who wished to ask a question. I did not see Lord Maginnis indicate he wanted to ask a question until approximately two thirds through the dinner at which point the list of names was considerable. I noted his name on the list. I had been given a hard stop deadline of 9.30pm for the dinner to end and warned participants that I would not be able to fit everyone who had indicated to me in and asked for questions and answers to be kept short.
Lord Maginnis then began saying loudly that I was the ‘worst chairman he has ever seen’ and saying disparaging remarks. I ignored the first few comments as I felt he was drunk and I didn’t want to draw attention to him. When he continued in this vein I said to him that was ‘enough’. I concluded the dinner with 15 questions being taken which is considerably more than usual. Sadly, I was unable to take a number of questions including from James Gray, the Chairman of the group who traditionally asks the last question. Lord Maginnis was not called partly because we ran out of time and partly because he was not a new member.
After the dinner he walked up to me while I was speaking to guests and remarked that he should have been called, that he felt I was a terrible chair and that he was very unhappy with the evening. The dinner was a great success and so I thanked him for his views and wished him a good evening. He kept staring at me and making similar remarks, to which I turned to him and said: Thanks for comments. There’s no need to stare at me. I already have a boyfriend but have a good evening. At this point I left and took the guests to Strangers’ Bar where the chair traditionally buys the speaker a beer before they retire. I recall Lord Maginnis speaking to the Admiral in the bar but I could not hear his comments about me as the bar was loud and frankly, I wasn’t very interested in what he had to say.
The next day James Gray MP, the chair of the group, copied me into an email titled ‘discrimination by homos’ which Lord Maginnis had sent to James. In the email, Lord Maginnis made a series of accusations about me including that I threatened to set my boyfriend on him and that he was waiting on the Terrace. [My boyfriend], is a lovely lad, doesn’t really like getting involved in politics and was at the time away filming an advert for his work and not on the terrace. At no point did I threaten the Lord with my boyfriend nor say that he was on the Terrace.
James Gray has repeatedly asked Lord Maginnis to apologise for his homophobic attacks on me if he wanted to be part of the APPG and attend future events and Lord Maginnis has replied with new homophobic remarks towards me.
I believe there is no place for homophobia in our politics. Having had my office attacked with homophobic slurs during the General Election I have publicly called out those who promote homophobia. I have no strong feelings towards Lord Maginnis and feel sorry for him as he is clearly struggling with understanding how to behave in the 21st century.
I know there have been subsequent incidents involving Lord Maginnis and he has been citing my sexuality as a reason to attack me and make accusations about me to my colleagues. I understand that complaints have been made about Lord Maginnis by my colleagues and having reflected on his behaviour and concluded he has no regret for his remarks I feel compelled to submit a formal complaint myself.
I would be grateful if you could process this email as a formal complaint against Lord Maginnis for his homophobia. I understand that you were copied into emails from Lord Maginnis with homophoc [sic] attacks on me and so I am not forwarding them to you again now. If you require them, please let me know.
I believe Lord Maginnis’s behaviour is in breach of the Lords behaviour code. If you require any further information to log this complaint please can you let me know. My phone number is [redacted]. I know there are a number of colleagues who witnessed the event and I am certain that James Gray MP will also be able to provide supporting testimony should that be required. Please let me know if you need anything else.”
216.Before completing my preliminary assessment, I also interviewed Mr Pollard. In that interview he expanded on the details in his written complaint.
217.He gave an account of the dinner:
“It was a very well-attended dinner. We had a lot of new Members of Parliament attending and so in my opening remarks I welcomed everyone but also said, with apologies to Members who had been part of the group for a long time, that I would be prioritising new Members for asking questions and so after, or during the Admiral’s speech, ‘If you could try to catch my eye, I will take a note of your names’.
It was we had been given a hard stop for the evening of 9.30 and it started at 7.30, so by the time we got to questions, I guess usually it was about half eight time, and my job is to welcome, introduce, chair the session and chair the questions session at the end. So during the event people were catching my eye, and I have got a way of we basically have a table plan where I put the little preferences on of who has indicated they would like to speak and we had a lot of questions, a lot of people indicating. So after the Admiral had made his remarks, I started chairing the questions and started inviting particular Members to make their speech. So what you do at this point is you look around the table and try to see people who are indicating. It is as unscientific as that in terms of getting people’s attention, but I had asked for the new Members beforehand to prewarn them that I would be looking at them in particular to see whether they wanted to ask questions and we had a lot of people, more people than we had time for getting their questions in.
During the question and answer session as we were getting towards, I guess, probably coming up to 9 o’clock now, Lord Maginnis started gesturing that he had been ignored in the questions and said that he had been gesturing for some time and that I was purposely ignoring him. If I am honest, I didn’t see him indicate that he wanted to speak until about two thirds of the way through the questions session, at which point I wrote his name down on the list. What we normally try to do is get a good split of Members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords and then end with a question from James Gray, who is the group’s chairman. It was getting to the point where there was not a lot of time left at this point and I was calling Members and, as I was doing that, he started saying that, ‘I should have been called. I have been indicating from the start,’ and started saying, ‘This is the worst chairman that we have ever had’ quite loudly. I ignored those remarks at first and then, when they continued, I went to him and said, ‘Enough’, and then indicated that he should not carry on doing that.
We only normally get rowdy behaviour from people who are quite drunk at those events. They normally start off with a drinks reception first, but to be honest it is a very well-behaved affair normally and we would not normally get any barracking except like a comedy barracking that sometimes gets people’s involvement, but nothing offensive normally.
Then that continued throughout the remainder of the period. I couldn’t hear some of the things that he was saying, but I could hear other bits and he was loudly complaining that he had not been chosen. At this point, I removed his name from the list of people to choose simply because that is not the way to be called but also because we were running out of time.
So there were a number of individuals at the end of the session who we did not have time for so I indicated to James Gray, for instance, to ask a very, very short question towards the end and he said, ‘No, don’t worry about me. I will leave it to someone else to ask’, so we removed James from the list. So we got 15 questions in by the time that the 9.30 hard stop arrived. At that point he was still saying that he had not asked a question and he was very unhappy with me in the role of chair and that he would ensure that I would not be chairing it again. At that point I turned to an SNP Member to ask for the vote of thanks and she presented a vote of thanks. In fact, she was quite happy to be the first SNP ever asked to do a vote of thanks. It is a bit of a thing in the defence group that the SNP tend not to get much of a voice, so I wanted to address that in the dinner. Then I thanked everyone for attending, thanked the Members and the Admiral for his words, and then drew the evening to a close.
What normally happens here is that the chair then takes the guest speaker to the Strangers’ for a beer and then they politely scuttle off from the rest of the evening. It was after the dinner had been drawn to a close that Lord Maginnis came over to I was on one side of a very long table in the middle and he had sat, I guess if I was sat at the table, he was, I guess, on my like nine or ten o’clock at the other end of the table, and he then walked along the table so he was opposite me. Then, as I was speaking to the Admiral afterwards, he started staring at me and complaining loudly that he had not been called. I ignored that conversation at first because I wanted to complete the conversation with the Admiral and then he kept talking about it. He then said, you know, ‘You are the worst chairman we have ever had. You should have called me. I was gesturing from the start. You were purposely ignoring me’, and he expressed his displeasure at that, at which point he kept staring at me and I think I said to him, ‘I realise you keep staring at me. There is no need to do that’. Then I think it was a phrase something like, ‘There’s no need to carry on staring at me; I’ve got a boyfriend already, I don’t need another one, thank you’, to try to dissolve the thing with a bit of humour.
Then I took people to the Strangers’ for a drink and during that Lord Maginnis came over to the Admiral and spoke to him. At that point, I wasn’t in earshot of the conversation and then at the very end he I went over to the Admiral to check he was okay, because it is normally the job of the chair to ensure that he does not get grabbed by too many parliamentarians. There were not that many people in uniform in the bar at the time, and he [Lord Maginnis] said, ‘I see what was going on tonight’, and expressed his displeasure.”
218.He said that he didn’t hear Lord Maginnis make any remarks he considered to be homophobic that evening, “although he was, you know, loudly protesting about the way that I chaired the meeting and the fact that he wasn’t called during the meeting.”
219.The following morning Mr Pollard saw the email that Lord Maginnis had sent to James Gray and others. He described the email:
“The email itself started with the subject heading ‘Discrimination by a homo’ and then went through a series of accusations about me using homophobic language and suggesting that I had in some way threatened him with my boyfriend, which did not happen. … Then he went on to make more homophobic remarks in the email. James clarified that his behaviour was not acceptable, in a subsequent reply, which I was copied into, and then Lord Maginnis said that he had done research on me and pulled out elements of my Wikipedia page which says that I live with my boyfriend, which I do, and then said this is the reason why it is, you know — he alleged that we were discriminating against him because of his views on homosexuality and his wellknown antiequality views in particular towards the LGBT community.”
220.We asked Mr Pollard to describe the effect of the incident and the emails on him. He said:
“If I am honest, I am quite shocked and surprised that this type of behaviour would happen within Westminster. I am still a relatively new Member because I have only been here for two and a half years, even though we have had an election during that period, so I still find myself being surprised by some of the, quite frankly, unprofessional behaviours that I see on a day-to-day basis, such as behaviours in Chamber, but this surprised me.”
221.He described how the incident and emails had meant that conversations he had with colleagues about defence matters were now distracted by conversations about Lord Maginnis’s conduct:
“there are frankly not a lot of people that do defence in Westminster. We all care about the armed forces, but when you get into the nitty-gritty of defence policy, there are not that many of us and, you know, everyone that I do defence, naval stuff with as the MP for Devonport, I do a lot of naval stuff — having all of them, you know, witness his behaviour and then be, you know, more than aware of his behaviour and the words that he may have said, and I have had lots of conversations subsequently, it was kind of embarrassing because that group should be talking about defence policy; it certainly should not be talking about — in my mind, everyone should behave to a decent standard so that we can get on with the issues at hand. It should not be, you know in my mind, it is not an opportunity for equalities campaigning; this is a group of people who come together from very, very different political views and political backgrounds to talk about defence and it has been — you know, it felt embarrassing that his behaviour towards me has become a distraction from that.”
222.Not only had it become a point of distraction from policy matters, the incident and email had had a long lasting effect on Mr Pollard’s experience of Parliament as a workplace:
“I still meet colleagues on a day-to-day basis round the building who talk about the evening with me and ask whether he has spoken to me again, whether anything else has happened to me, so, you know, his behaviour has kind of attached an experience to my colleagues’ impression of me since then. Normally people only bang on about how many times I talk about frigates in those dinners; now they are talking about whether it is okay for people to have a go at me based on my sexuality. So there has been a longlasting effect of that.”
223.He said that those conversations had been supportive but said “my interaction with those individuals is not based on an equality campaign and I do not want their interaction with me to be based on, you know, whether I have a boyfriend or a girlfriend. That has been a distraction and an annoyance.”
224.The emails Mr Pollard referred to were copied, by Lord Maginnis, to my office (along with three other parliamentarians: W, X and Lord Taylor of Holbeach). I therefore had sight of them before Mr Pollard made his complaint. The email chain was started by Lord Maginnis with the subject heading “Discrimination by Homos”.
At the Def. & Sec. dinner this evening I indicated early in the proceedings that I wished to ask a question and had a “nodding acknowledgement” from the Chairman, Luke Poallard [sic], that my request had been noted.
I was deliberately not called and following an interchange at the end of the meeting we had words, at which time Pollard threatened me with his “boyfriend”. Purely on that basis I have researched him.
My research indicates [reference to Mr Pollard’s boyfriend]. Pollard is Plymouth’s first openly gay Member of Parliament.
I have no contention whatsoever with people’s personal life but am well known as someone who has opposed to Cameron’s gay marriage legislation. I have, in the past, been nominated by “Stonewall” as ‘bigot of the year’ but lost out to a R.C. priest from Glasgow … a bit of a ‘come-down’ for an Ulster Unionist!!!!!
But, joking apart, I’m not prepared to be victimised by “queers” - not least by those like Pollard and that ‘lady’ Hannah Bardell, the Scots Nat. who recently sought to embarrass me.
Please note that if that chap appears again in the Chair of our group I will challenge his credentials. I’m neither someone to be bullied or intimidated.
You and I have known each other for many years, so I want to be absolutely frank with you.
I fear that this email, and I suspect some of the things you may have said or done last evening, are completely and utterly unacceptable. Whether you agreed with it or not, same sex marriage is part of the law, and is now a wholly normal part of life. It is simply totally and utterly wrong for you to speak in this way, or to criticise the duly elected Chairman of the RN group in the way you have. Luke will indeed be chairing future RN events whether or not you like it.
I fear that as Chairman of the APPG I must take a very decisive line on this wholly unacceptable email. Please withdraw it and apologise for it. If you do not do so, you will not be welcome at any future APPG Armed Forces Event.
You owe Luke Pollard a fulsome apology.
Ken, I was surprised at the content of your email about events at last night’s dinner. A chairman of any meeting or ormanisstion [sic] must be totally impartial and at no time allow his personal opinions to influence his decisions. If Luke Pollard, has earlier acknowledged that you wished to ask a question, and then failed to call you, he clearly had failed to comply with the normal impartial standards of chairmanship. However failure not to call you may have been due to lack of time and not discrimination based upon his personal views (none of which I was aware). I will discuss it further with you today.
Let me make one thing clear - I had no idea of the ‘inclinations’ of Luke Pollard until he boasted that “my boyfriend is on the Terrace and will deal with you”.
He is obviously part of the ongoing campaign against me because of MY views on the matter relating to the Cameron initiative.
I’m getting somewhat irked by being discriminated against so, as for any apology, forget it!
Ken, Let it cool down! There was only discrimination against you if the chairman acknowledged early on in the evening that you wished to ask a question! James appears to believe that you only intimated your desire late on in the proceedings and that therefore there was no time left for you to ask a question and thus no discrimination. If, after the meeting, the Chairman threatened you by suggesting another person would become involved on his behalf, then there is a serious question about impartial chairmanship! Tories are known for their loyalty to each other and now and again that loyalty overcomes facts!!
As I said last night, please let it rest.
[W] is right to take it as water of the duck’s back.
Let me be clear about this. The Chairman is perfectly entitled to call whoever he wishes to ask questions. We try to balance it politically, even geographically down the room. There is no obligation to call anyone, no matter how soon they caught the Chairman’s eye. It is absurd to suggest that Luke Pollard did not call you because of some perception of homophobia which is what you seem to be implying. We asked Luke to wrap it up by 9.30PM, which meant, for example, that I too was not called.
At all events, your email was simply unacceptable. I do now require you to withdraw it and apologise for it. If you do not do so you will no longer be a member of the APPG for the Armed Forces and will most certainly not be welcome at our events. I cannot let this one rest. Your email was unacceptable, and breaches the rules of the House of Commons. You must now withdraw it.
225.Mr Scott and I carried out a preliminary assessment and concluded that it would be appropriate to investigate whether Lord Maginnis’s conduct constituted a breach of the Code of Conduct. I wrote to Mr Pollard with information about my next steps. I also wrote to Lord Maginnis on 29 April 2020, enclosing the complaint from Mr Pollard and explaining that, as a result of my preliminary assessment I had concluded that there was sufficient evidence to establish there was a prima facie case to be investigated.
226.I asked Lord Maginnis to send me a full and accurate account of the matter in question.
227.Lord Maginnis responded briefly to Mr Pollard’s complaint in two emails which also covered aspects of the other complaints under investigation.
228.In an email of 29 April he explained that he could not access the PDF version of my letter but assumed that the further complaint was from Mr Pollard, “with whom I had a normal disagreement before I even knew who or what he was - that he was ‘queer’. He stepped-up our minor disagreement by threatening to sort it out on the Terrace and that ‘my boyfriend is out there’.”
229.In an email of 6 May in which he asked for an update on the other cases under investigation, he said “As far as the well-orchestrated Luke Pollard case is concerned all I can say is that Stonewall members still seem to ‘hunt in packs’!”
230.We interviewed Lord Maginnis by video link on 22 May. We began by asking him to describe his recollection of the dinner and his exchanges with Mr Pollard:
“There was not a great deal happened. When I went in, I was in in good time. I tend not to go to The Terrace before the meeting because I cannot stand and my balance is not good enough. I am all right when I am moving, but I am not good when I have to stand in a static position. So I went in and sat down. As soon as the people assemble — there was the Admiral coming to speak to us — I indicated to the Chairman (whom I did not know; I had not seen him before) that I wanted to ask a question. He nodded recognition and so on. At several times during the meeting he still had not called me. I think it was John Taylor, the Lord Taylor, I think I indicated through him (who was sitting on the left hand of the Chairman) that I had not been called. He drew his attention. The chap looked up and continued to ignore me.
When the whole thing was over, I went up and I said, probably in an offhand way, ‘Well, thank you very much for ignoring me’, or words to that effect. I would not remember what I said. He probably became, not aggressive in a physical way, but he became aggressive in a dismissive way. I said— I cannot — I do not remember the conversation thereafter but what I do remember, and what sticks with me, is that he said, ‘Okay, we’ll settle this out on The Terrace and my boyfriend’s out there’. Now what the heck his boyfriend had to do with that I do not know. I think it probably occurred to me, ‘Ah, so that is a continuation of the Bardell problem’, and that was it. I did not see him again for the rest of the evening. We did not have any exchange when we went out on to The Terrace.”
231.After the event Lord Maginnis decided to “drop a note to James Gray, who is the Chairman of the APPG”, which he considered a “private letter”, copied to others “as much out of resentment that here was, on top of all the hassle coming from this woman Bardell, here was somebody obviously as I thought setting out to annoy me”.
232.We asked Lord Maginnis whether he might have been mistaken that Mr Pollard had acknowledged at the start of the question and answer session his indication of his wish to speak. He said that he did not believe he could have been mistaken and that Mr Pollard’s account was untruthful.
233.He said that as he was not being called by Mr Pollard, he had indicated to Lord Taylor, who was at the dinner and sat nearer to the Chair, that he had not been called and “asked him to indicate to — I forget his name — Pollard that I wanted to ask a question.”
234.We asked Lord Maginnis if he had heard Mr Pollard say that newer members of the APPG would be given priority in the question and answer session. Lord Maginnis said that he had not heard that but “I cannot say he did not say it … I was not aware of it.”
235.We asked Lord Maginnis whether he recalled saying loudly during the dinner that Mr Pollard was the worst chairman he had ever encountered. Lord Maginnis replied:
“I do not know what it is about some people, but they have great imaginations. No, I do not. … I do remember looking across the table and saying to John Taylor, to Lord Taylor, ‘Would you remind him in other words that I am one of the first on the speakers’ list?’”
236.We asked Lord Maginnis whether he thought that Mr Pollard had excluded him from the question and answer session on purpose. He replied:
“It was very obvious from just his attitude, his unwillingness to look down to my part of the table. I mean, he — it was seen by me as something that was deliberate. Remember at this time I did not know who the Chairman was. I did not know him from Adam. He had not–- there was no way in which I knew that he was going to boast about his boyfriend and so on.”
237.We put Mr Pollard’s explanation of his reference to his boyfriend—that it was an attempt to diffuse a tense situation—to Lord Maginnis. He accepted that he may have misunderstood what Mr Pollard had said, explaining that he frequently did not wear his hearing aids which meant that he needed to look directly at people in order to hear them when there was background noise.
238.We spoke about the email he sent to James Gray after the event. He said he sent it “because of the background and everything that was going on, I was offended that suddenly here was this gay individual wading in to embarrass me”.
239.Though he accepted that he may have misunderstood Mr Pollard’s reference to his boyfriend, he still considered that Mr Pollard had treated him poorly because of his views on people’s sexual orientation. Even if he had misunderstood Mr Pollard “threatening” him with his boyfriend, he said “you pick up a lot from tone and attitude. I thought his attitude was quite aggressive”:
“he, out of the blue, introduced his boyfriend into the conversation I thought, ‘Ah. So that is what and who you are’, and I now understand with all the agitation that that bloody Bardell woman was creating.”
240.Even allowing for a misunderstanding, Lord Maginnis said Mr Pollard’s behaviour towards him was associated with Mr Pollard’s “behavioural inclinations” and that there was “no need for him to highlight the fact that he was gay, and, under the circumstances, I felt it was, you know, part of the campaign.”
241.We asked Lord Maginnis to comment on the content of his email and James Gray’s description of it as “unacceptable”. His response was “I could not even comment.”
242.Having used the word “deviant” at times in interviews with us in reference to Mr Pollard, we asked him whether he considered Mr Pollard to be a deviant. He replied, “He is in my book, yes. … Of course”.
243.We spoke again to Mr Pollard after having provided him with a summary of Lord Maginnis’s response to his complaint.
244.He noted some inaccuracies in Lord Maginnis’s account of events compared to his own recollection; for example, Mr Pollard said he did not see Lord Maginnis indicate his wish to ask a question until partway through the question and answer session, and he did not “threaten” Lord Maginnis with his boyfriend.
245.Mr Pollard noted that Lord Maginnis’s response to his complaint was informed largely by his views on Mr Pollard’s sexual orientation:
“a bit concerning in relation to the starting point for any interaction on a professional basis, that he thinks I’m a deviant because of my sexuality, which is disappointing but again not surprising given the fact that I have seen his emails and how he described me in those emails.”
246.As he had done in our earlier interview, Mr Pollard rejected Lord Maginnis’s implication that the interactions between them were motivated by their opposing views on gay rights:
“the key concern that I have in relation to his use of homophobic language and then the application of kind of like underhand motives on my behalf because of his position on equality matters”.
247.He agreed that by the time of the dinner he was probably aware of Lord Maginnis’s views, not least following the publicity surrounding Hannah Bardell’s Point of Order in the Commons. However, he said:
“I have to interact with an awful lot of people that I disagree with in politics, and my job at that dinner was to call people and to chair a dinner; it was not to campaign on equality matters … I’m quite aware that the cohort of parliamentarians in both Houses that campaign on defence issues is relatively small, and as a result you have to frequently interact and campaign alongside many people whose views you would not necessarily agree with or have political perspectives that you don’t agree with. By nature, most of our campaigns are informally crossparty on issues, and so I think I was aware of that bit, but that wouldn’t have stopped me calling him. Indeed, once I had realised that he had indicated, which I only became aware of half or twothirds of the way through the question session, I wrote his name on the list of people to be called. It was only removed when he started barracking me in the dinner, so, you know, despite those views, he was on my list that I had added of people to call.”
248.We asked again about the impact of the incidents on him. His description of the impact was similar to what he had described in our earlier interview:
“In the period immediately after when this took place I had a number of colleagues approach me on a cross party basis to talk about what happened in the dinner, rather than to talk about the content of defence campaigns as we normally would, and that includes both parliamentarians but also some of the commercial sponsors that were at the dinner that I subsequently came across. The defence family in Westminster is not very big, and so the people who genuinely campaign on the detail of defence issues rather than the general spirit of supporting our armed forces is a much smaller cohort than the larger ‘we back our armed forces’ number. For that period immediately after, when the dinner took place, that had his behaviour became more of a topic to talk about rather than talking about frigates or amphibious assault ships, which is what I would normally talk to people about in relation to that.”
249.He said that it was the content of the emails that had particularly affected him:
“I think the bit that I became frustrated by in the sense that, actually, in being at the receiving end of his or being the subject of his emails. I was less fussed about having an angry man shout at me during a dinner; that is, to a certain extent, something you prepare yourself for when you are hosting a dinner where wine is served. It was more the nature of his subsequent emails that particularly became that made it personal. It was frustrating and unprofessional on the night, but it was the personal sense of where he has got to.”
250.We also spoke to James Gray MP about the dinner and subsequent emails.
251.He began by briefly describing the dinner. His account included details that had been included in Mr Pollard’s account: that the meeting had to end by 9.30pm and that he had been on the list of those to ask a question but as time ran out he had not been called.
252.He couldn’t recall whether Mr Pollard had said that he would give priority to new members but said, “I would not be in the least bit surprised … I would have endorsed that. Had he said that, I would certainly have endorsed it, but I cannot remember it off hand.”
253.He had not been aware of any disruption at the meeting or conversations in the bar afterwards.
254.He became aware of Lord Maginnis’s conduct that particular evening only when he received Lord Maginnis’s email, which he considered to be unacceptable. He said:
“I took the view as chairman of the overall group that that was not acceptable. He copied it quite widely, to me and to [another MP], and I think to you actually and to various other people. I wrote back and said, in perfectly nice terms, ‘I am afraid that is not right. You cannot circulate an email using those terms and, therefore, please withdraw it’. He did not do so.”
255.He said that Lord Maginnis then replied with “this very weird email” about Mr Pollard’s personal life. He said:
“I wrote back in a relatively sort of peaceful way, I think I hope I was trying to be reasonably polite and I said, ‘You and I have known each for many years. That simply will not do’. I think I actually said at one stage or another that I myself had voted against gay marriage but that, frankly, neither his nor my view on gay marriage was of any significance at all in the context of the All Party Parliamentary Group. He then came back and said, ‘Let me make one thing clear. I knew nothing about it until he said, ‘My boyfriend is on the terrace and will deal with you’. He is obviously part of an ongoing campaign against me. I get somewhat irked by being discriminated against … As for any apology, forget it.’
Anyhow, that I thought was all there was to it. I had said that that was unacceptable and please withdraw and apologise. I copied Luke Pollard into that so that Luke Pollard knew that I had said that. In so far as I was concerned, that was it; I had no reply from Lord Maginnis after that.”
256.Mr Gray also provided us with the seating plan for that evening’s dinner so we were able to identify the parliamentarian who was sat beside him. We spoke to that parliamentarian, Y, about Lord Maginnis’s behaviour during the dinner.
257.Y described Lord Maginnis’s efforts to be called to ask a question:
“I was sat next to Lord Maginnis. He had not been called for a question and he did not take kindly to that and was, kind of, saying that he had put his hand up. But when other people were talking and while we were trying to get on with the questions, he was directing his remarks at the Chair to indicate that he felt he should have been picked and had not been; and when that continued to be the case, that he was not picked, Lord Maginnis made some remarks about him being the worst Chair he has ever had at an event.”
258.He said that although he couldn’t say whether others around the table would have heard every remark from Lord Maginnis, the remarks were not made quietly:
“he was saying it without any care. He was not intending for everybody to hear. It was not said in that way. It was not said out to the room. It was more he was saying it at sufficient volume that people would have heard and he did not care. I do not think he was seeking to say that to people; he was just muttering without any consideration to the fact that, actually, that is not an appropriate thing to say out loud … For example, he did not wait for a pause in the conversation; he was just carrying on irrespective of what everyone else was doing and people would have heard it. But I would not say it was a clear — he was not deliberately trying to get everybody to hear what he was saying. He just did not care less.”
259.He also recalled that Mr Pollard had begun the question and answer session by explaining the new members would be given priority.
260.As Lord Maginnis had mentioned Lord Taylor having been at the dinner and as he had been one of the recipients of Lord Maginnis’s emails after the dinner, we also spoke to Lord Taylor.
261.Lord Taylor began by describing his relationship with Lord Maginnis:
“Ken Maginnis is known to me very well. He is a Member of the House and comes from South Tyrone. He is very Northern Irish. He is very Ulster Unionist. He is an Independent Ulster Unionist because he has had difficulty reconciling himself with the Ulster Unionist Party. He no longer receives a whip from the Conservative Party which he would have done when he was an Ulster Unionist. He has frequently sought me out to complain that I took him off the whip and all the rest of it. They were not whipped directly but they were whipped through our Party Whips. He is no longer so. This goes back some time. So I know him very well.”
262.He confirmed that he was aware that Lord Maginnis had been keen to ask a question during the dinner:
“I do know that Ken Maginnis was trying to ask a question … He was down the bottom end of the table and making it quite clear he wanted to ask a question … When the answer to a previous questioner was taken, he would have his hand up or be making a noise to make it clear that he wanted to ask if possible.”
263.However, although he “came away from the dinner feeling that he definitely wanted to ask a question and he had not been able to do”, he did not recall Lord Maginnis catching his eye in order to pass on to Mr Pollard his desire to ask a question.
264.He said he had not been aware of Lord Maginnis making particularly loud remarks during the dinner but said that he may have “chuntered”. Because of this, he assumed that during the meeting Lord Maginnis was “irritable and irascible, as he frequently can be”. He went on to describe Lord Maginnis’s behaviour at events more generally:
“if you want Lord Maginnis to be at these functions, you have to take him as he is. It is important to remember the background from which he comes and the difficulty that he had during the Troubles. I have always tried to be understanding of his manner and behaviour, but he is a one-off and perhaps that is as well.”
265.We asked Lord Taylor what he had thought of the emails sent by Lord Maginnis:
“I do not think it is a very good thing if you want to try and get on with somebody to fall out with him in the way that he did, fall out with the Chairman of the meeting as he did, let alone the business of same-sex marriage and the implications of homosexuality which turned up in the heading of the second email. I do not think the first had it. The second email which he sent - I thought it was most uncalled for and quite unnecessary, and he should have apologised to the Chairman for his behaviour, in my view, but that is by the way.”
266.Lord Taylor also saw Lord Maginnis’s behaviour that evening and in the emails as evidence of an increasing bad tempered approach. He said that over the time of their association “[h]e has got worse” and that he “alienates himself by his manner”:
“And then, of course, he finds himself without the social reinforcement. In some ways, I mean, you do not have to be a sophisticated psychologist to realise that he is a soul that has alienated himself and is finding it difficult to connect with other people. Sometimes it is almost as if he is drawing attention to himself by his behaviour.”
267.Aspects of Mr Pollard’s and Lord Maginnis’s accounts diverge. However, Lord Maginnis’s behaviour during the dinner is corroborated by the parliamentarian sat beside him at the time. Lord Maginnis’s emails to James Gray and others were sent to my office and are not disputed.
268.I therefore find Mr Pollard’s account of the dinner more likely than not to be accurate and the content of the emails are shown beyond doubt.
13 I have not interviewed W or X in the course of my investigation and therefore consider that they have a right to anonymity. I spoke to Lord Taylor and he agreed to be identified.