347.Under the Code of Conduct, when I uphold a complaints of bullying, harassment or sexual misconduct, I must produce a report for publication and identify an appropriate outcome, which can range from no action to expulsion from the House.
348.Three possibilities follow:
349.If my report goes to the Conduct Committee, any of my findings of breaches can be appealed by the complainant and the respondent. The respondent can also appeal my recommended sanction. Nothing will be published until the outcome of any appeal, at which point the Conduct Committee will publish its own report, to which my report will be annexed.
350.In these cases I do not consider remedial action to be appropriate.
351.In accordance with paragraph 157 of the Guide to the Code, I wrote to Lord Maginnis to inform him of the breaches I had found and inviting him to present any material he wished to be taken into account when considering my recommended sanction. Lord Maginnis’s response is included in Appendix 4.
352.In his response, Lord Maginnis made a number of points which related broadly to the complaints and my investigation which it may be useful to respond to here:
“Out 4 Marriage” was a campaign in favour of same-sex marriage that arranged for short videos to be recorded with a variety of people to speak in favour of same-sex marriage. In 2012, as incoming President of the Law Society of England and Wales I recorded such a video.
In his earlier evidence Lord Maginnis had described Ms Bardell’s account as “inaccurate”. The sequence of who arrived at the entrance first is not material to the investigation. That Lord Maginnis spoke angrily to Ms Bardell is evidenced by Ms Bardell and Mr Bombolo’s accounts.
This aspect of Lord Maginnis’s account is included at paragraph 125 above and we spoke to one of the parliamentarians but were unable to speak to the second, as set out in paragraph 155 above.
As set out in paragraph 197 above, Ms Bardell used this phrase after Lord Maginnis had spoken to HuffPost.
My own “social and moral” views are not a relevant factor in this investigation. The task delegated to me by the House of Lords has been to consider in each case whether, on the balance of probabilities, the evidence demonstrated that Lord Maginnis breached the Code of Conduct. Based on the evidence gathered, I have found that he did.
353.While Lord Maginnis has not disputed many of the essential facts of the complaints against him, he has not acknowledged that his behaviour was unacceptable and contrary to the Code of Conduct. Rather, he has continued to use demeaning language about the complainants, ascribed motivations for their actions based on questions of sexual orientation, and attempted to claim his own victimisation by them for which there is no evidence.
354.In addition, I do not consider that the conduct complained of in any of these cases has been “minor”.
355.Furthermore the evidence suggests that the incidents described in this report are not one-offs or out of character. In his evidence on Mr Bombolo’s complaint, Lord Maginnis himself explained that he had previously treated another security officer in a similar fashion. The complaints from Ms Bardell, Mr Pollard and Mr Perkins, along with the emails from Lord Maginnis to James Gray and the content of Lord Maginnis’s evidence to us also demonstrate that using homophobic language and expressing homophobic views is part of Lord Maginnis’s normal discourse.
356.As remedial action is not an appropriate outcome, my role is to recommend a suitable sanction to the Conduct Committee.
357.Given the lack of acknowledgement or remorse, I do not consider that either an apology or training would be sufficient or likely to result in a change of behaviour, at least as stand-alone sanctions.
358.Furthermore, given that Lord Maginnis’s conduct has not been focussed on any particular facility or service of the House, I do not consider that only restricting his access to these would be effective.
359.I do not believe that denying Lord Maginnis access to the system of financial support would necessarily prevent Lord Maginnis from interacting with members of the parliamentary community and therefore would not be effective.
360.Removing a member from the House is the most serious sanction available and should only be used in relation to the most serious breaches of the Code or where lower sanctions are found to be ineffective in ensuring the member abide by the Code. In my view, expulsion would, at this stage, be an excessive sanction.
361.In making the following recommendation, I have borne in mind this is a sanction imposed due to the severity of the conduct and Lord Maginnis’s lack of acknowledgement or contrition. I am also conscious of the right of staff and members to work in the House of Lords without the risk of being subjected or exposed to the conduct Lord Maginnis has displayed in these complaints and in my investigation.
362.It is, of course, beyond the scope of the Code of Conduct to seek to change a Member’s mind on what some people may consider to be matters of conscience. However, I believe that, this being the first report into Lord Maginnis’s conduct, it is right that he be offered the opportunity to alter his behaviour in Parliament so that his personal beliefs do not lead to further allegations of bullying or harassment.
363.I therefore recommend a combination of measures to provide a sanction, support Lord Maginnis to amend his conduct to prevent future breaches, and minimise the exposure of staff and members to similar conduct from Lord Maginnis. Should this combination of measure prove ineffective in prompting Lord Maginnis to alter his behaviour and should there be any future conduct that breaches the Code, a more severe sanction would need to be applied.
364.I recommend that:
365.If his bespoke training and behaviour change coaching takes longer than nine months, I recommend that Lord Maginnis remains suspended until that training is complete.
366.If Lord Maginnis has not yet completed the Valuing Everyone training all members are required to attend, he must do so within one month of his return to the House at the latest.
367.In proposing this sanction, I have been mindful of the current COVID-19 pandemic. Though the bespoke training and behaviour change coaching would usually be provided face-to-face, this will not be possible in this instance. I am assured that the training can be provided remotely via video-conferencing.