301.The complainants allege that Lord Maginnis breached the Code of Conduct by his behaviour towards them. Paragraph 10 of the Code provides that:
“Members of the House should observe the principles set out in the Parliamentary Behaviour Code of respect, professionalism, understanding others’ perspectives, courtesy, and acceptance of responsibility. These principles will be taken into consideration when any allegation of bullying, harassment or sexual misconduct is under investigation.”
302.Paragraph 17 of the Code provides that “Behaviour that amounts to bullying, harassment or sexual misconduct is a breach of this Code”.
303.Although failure to abide by the Behaviour Code may not necessarily constitute a breach of the Code of Conduct, I start this section by considering Lord Maginnis’s behaviour against the principles in the Behaviour Code.
304.The Behaviour Code is at Appendix A of the Code, and states:
“whether you are a visitor or working in Parliament at Westminster or elsewhere, there are clear guidelines in place on how you should be treated, and how you should treat others:
305.In each case covered in this report, Lord Maginnis’s conduct towards the complainants has demonstrated a lack of respect of them.
306.With regard to Christian Bombolo, Lord Maginnis failed to respect and value the role Mr Bombolo was performing. Lord Maginnis’s demeaning language towards and about Mr Bombolo during the incident and to the press afterwards demonstrated that lack of respect.
307.In the cases of Ms Bardell and Mr Pollard, Lord Maginnis’s language and attribution of motives to them based on their sexual orientations also demonstrates a lack of respect.
308.In the case of Mr Perkins, Lord Maginnis’s disregard for how Mr Perkins would react to his language and description of Mr Pollard similarly shows a lack of respect.
309.It is clear that in the case of Christian Bombolo, Lord Maginnis—a member of the House—failed to recognise his authority in relation to Mr Bombolo—a member of staff. Lord Maginnis’s views expressed in interview that Mr Bombolo had power over him, to the extent that Mr Bombolo could be said to have been bullying him, are not tenable and demonstrate a continued refusal to recognise his position and his abuse of it during the incident.
310.Matters are less clear cut in relation to Ms Bardell, Mr Pollard and Mr Perkins as within the parliamentary context each may be said to have comparable power, influence and authority as parliamentarians. Ms Bardell’s raising of the incident with Mr Bombolo as a Point of Order in the House of Commons perhaps shows this.
311.None of the evidence I have gathered suggests that Lord Maginnis considered the effect of his actions on any of the complainants. His evidence to my investigation also showed a disregard for the impact of his actions and words.
312.In the cases of Ms Bardell, Mr Pollard and Mr Perkins, Lord Maginnis consistently ascribed motivations to their actions and reactions based on either questions of sexual orientation or party loyalty. In responding in this way, Lord Maginnis has shown that he has not made, and appears unwilling to make, any attempt to understand matters from their perspective.
313.Lord Maginnis’s conduct towards Mr Bombolo at the time of the incident was not professional—it is a reasonable professional expectation, particularly in a workplace like Parliament, that people wear their security passes. His comments to the press about Mr Bombolo were also unprofessional.
314.Similarly, Lord Maginnis’s conduct towards Ms Bardell at the time of the incident and later in the press were unprofessional.
315.The conduct described by witnesses during the APPG meeting chaired by Mr Pollard was not professional, nor was Lord Maginnis’s series of emails to James Gray MP and others afterwards.
316.Lord Maginnis’s account to Mr Perkins about the APPG meeting and Mr Pollard were similarly unprofessional.
317.Comments above relate to this principle: Lord Maginnis’s conduct in each case was neither courteous nor respectful.
318.This principle does not apply to Lord Maginnis’s conduct. However, I would highlight Ms Bardell’s efforts to speak up about unacceptable behaviour, particularly during the incident involving Mr Bombolo as an example of acting in accordance with this principle. Mr Gray’s response to Lord Maginnis’s emails also accords with this principle.
319.Bullying may be characterised as offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour involving an abuse or misuse of power that can make a person feel vulnerable, upset, undermined, humiliated, denigrated or threatened.
320.Power does not always mean being in a position of authority and can include both personal strength and the power to coerce through fear or intimidation.
321.Bullying can take the form of physical, verbal and non-verbal conduct.
322.Bullying behaviour may be in person, by telephone or in writing, including emails, texts or online communications such as social media.
323.It may be persistent or an isolated incident and may manifest obviously or be hidden or insidious.
324.Lord Maginnis’s behaviour towards Mr Bombolo during the incident at the entrance to Parliament and comments to the press later were offensive, intimidating and insulting. They had the effect of upsetting, undermining and humiliating Mr Bombolo.
325.Despite his suggestion that Mr Bombolo was in a position of power over him during the incident, Lord Maginnis, as a member of the House, was in a position of authority.
326.I find that Lord Maginnis bullied Christian Bombolo.
327.I therefore find that Lord Maginnis breached the Code of Conduct.
328.Lord Maginnis’s behaviour towards Ms Bardell during the incident at the entrance to Parliament and comments to the press later were offensive, intimidating and insulting. They had the effect of upsetting, undermining and humiliating Ms Bardell.
329.While both Lord Maginnis and Hannah Bardell might be considered to hold comparable positions of authority, each as a parliamentarian, Ms Bardell’s evidence describes her feeling physically intimidated by Lord Maginnis.
330.Lord Maginnis’s comments to the press were unwanted verbal conduct.
331.Lord Maginnis’s comments to the press violated Ms Bardell’s dignity and created a hostile and offensive environment for her.
332.Lord Maginnis’s comments were related to the protected characteristic of sexual orientation.
333.I find that Lord Maginnis’s:
334.I therefore find that Lord Maginnis breached the Code of Conduct.
335.On balance, I do not consider that Lord Maginnis’s behaviour during the APPG dinner amounted to bullying. While I consider it to have been disrespectful, discourteous and unprofessional—and therefore contrary to the Behaviour Code—Mr Pollard’s evidence does not suggest that it made him feel vulnerable, upset, undermined, humiliated, denigrated or threatened such that the behaviour could be considered bullying. I do not consider that there was an abuse or misuse of power on Lord Maginnis’s part during the dinner.
336.Lord Maginnis’s behaviour was unwanted verbal conduct.
337.Lord Maginnis’s emails to Mr Gray and others had the effect of violating Mr Pollard’s dignity and creating a hostile and offensive environment for him.
338.Lord Maginnis’s comments were related to the protected characteristic of sexual orientation.
339.I find that Lord Maginnis’s emails to Mr Gray and others following the APPG dinner constituted harassment related to the protected characteristic of sexual orientation.
340.I therefore find that Lord Maginnis breached the Code of Conduct.
341.Lord Maginnis’s behaviour was unwanted verbal conduct.
342.Lord Maginnis’s comments to Mr Perkins created an offensive environment for him.
343.Lord Maginnis’s comments were related to the protected characteristic of sexual orientation.
344.It should be noted that under the provisions of the Code of Conduct, “[a] person may be harassed even if they were not the intended ‘target’ of harassment. For example, a person may be harassed by jokes about a religious group that they do not belong to, if these jokes create an offensive environment for them.”
345.I find that Lord Maginnis’s comments to Mr Perkins constituted harassment related to the protected characteristic of sexual orientation.
346.I therefore find that Lord Maginnis breached the Code of Conduct.