The conduct of Lord Maginnis of Drumglass Contents

Appendix 5: Email from Hannah Bardell MP to the Commissioner for Standards, 10 February 2020

Dear Lucy,

I write to you in your role as Lords Commissioner and in reference to an incident that has been reported in the media relating to the conduct of Lord Ken Maginnis and his abuse of both staff and myself on Tuesday 7th of January and subsequent homophobic comments made to the press which are being investigated as a hate crime by the metropolitan police.

For reference and accuracy, I supply below the full statement now given to Metropolitan Police.

Please see below my statement further detail of my complaint relating to this issue.

Futher detail

I am the above named person, I work and live at the addresses provided to Police.

I am currently the Member of Parliament for Livingston in West Lothian, Scotland. I have been a Member of Parliament since the 2015 general election, routinely attending the House of Parliament during that period.

This statement relates to an incident that took place on Tuesday 7th January 2020 when I entered the House of Parliament and the Commons building. I witnessed an exchange between Lord Ken Maginnis and security staff which I reported.

Thereafter on Wednesday 8th January, I was made aware of what I would describe as being homophobic and derogatory reported comments directed towards me by Lord Maginnis in the press.

On Tuesday 7th January 2020 I travelled to London for parliamentary duties and made my way to the Palace of Westminster. It was my first day back in Parliament following the Christmas break and I had several meetings scheduled for that day.

Everyone working in Parliament has to undergo security checks, everyone should be aware that in order to gain access into Parliament and the estate and we are all required to display a valid Parliamentary ID badge for obvious security reasons.

Not least because on the day of the terrorist attack in 2017 a police officer PC Keith Palmer lost his life protecting us and following the attack the estate was in lockdown for many hours as police and security services searched for a potential additional assailant.

On this particular day I approached the subway entrance into the Palace of Westminster. To find there was an elderly male with his suitcase, directly in front of me. At that time I didn’t know who the male was, but I now know him to be Lord Maginnis, a peer within the House of Lords.

It became apparent that Lord Maginnis had forgotten his Parliamentary pass, but nevertheless he was still demanding that the security staff grant him entry.

Lord Maginnis began to raise his voice and shout repeatedly stating that the security staff should know who he was and that they were ‘crooked’ for not allowing him access.

I offered my assistance to Lord Maginnis because I noticed that he had a prosthetic leg. I think I suggested that he search himself online in order to verify his credentials. I do not recall exactly his response to this but I do recall that looked intently at my ID badge that was clearly attached to my rainbow lanyard, I assume that he was trying to view my name. Then a female uniformed police officer approached, she also attempted to defuse the situation by asking whether there was any other way we could resolve this situation but she failed to calm Lord Maginnis.

I was shocked by Lord Maginnis aggressive demeanour and sympathize with the security staff who were simply trying to do their job, trying to keep Parliament safe within this challenging climate.

Lord Maginnis continued to make a scene, he would not listen to reason despite the fact there was a large queue forming behind him. At one point I recall he actually attempted to physical force his way into the building. After a passage of time, I was able to display by ID badge and I was granted entry into Parliament while Lord Maginnis was held behind. I am unaware what happened to Lord Maginnis next.

On reflection, I felt that Lord Maginnis’ behaviour to the security staff and the police was wholly unacceptable. I was really shocked by what had just taken place. Lord Maginnis was screaming at the security staff and accusing them of being crooks and jobsworths.

Also I remember as I passed him to enter into Parliament he was up in my face saying “you’re useless as well”.

To which I replied “Look pal I’m just trying to help you, there’s no need to be so rude”.

I found the whole incident very intimidating. I also felt no one should be subjected to abusive behaviour of this kind.

So on my way to dropping my belongings in the cloakroom, I approached an armed police officer that was stationed close to the subway entrance of parliament to report the matter and Lord Maginnis abusive behaviour.

On Wednesday 8th January 2020 following another meeting in Parliament, I then entered the chambers of House of Commons for Prime Minister’s Questions. I felt it was necessary to raise the matter as a point of order.16 I took this opportunity to highlight the behaviour of Lord Maginnis towards security staff and the police.

After leaving the chamber, I briefly had lunch before returning to my office and my parliamentary duties. But then at approximately 17:53 hours that evening I received a message from a journalist called Mr Arj Singh. He informed me that he had recorded Lord Maginnis retaliation to what I had said in the House of Commons (point of order).17

I was shocked and appalled by the content of Lord Maginnis’s response, and I told this to Arj Singh. We continued to discuss the content of Lord Maginnis response, and Arj Singh stated that he was struggling with what he had just heard from Lord Maginnis. Arj Singh said “In some ways I don’t want to write this story” but we were both aware that he had to. The story went live onto the Huffington Post that evening.

After being forwarded the link to the story, I tweeted ‘I didn’t think this man’s behaviour could get any worse’.

On Thursday the 9th January 2020, I returned to Parliament and attempted to return to my Parliamentary duties. I recall that the Speaker of the House phoned me in the morning to discuss Lord Maginnis comments, he was in agreement that the comments made by Lord Maginnis constituted a hate crime.

That afternoon I had a meeting with a Detective from the Metropolitan Police Services Parliamentary Liaison and Investigation Team in my office, we discussed the incident that occurred at the subway entrance to Parliament and the comments made by Lord Maginnis directed towards me. I was informed that the police would be creating a crime report based on the information presented.

That evening I was then required to complete an interview with BBC Scotland about everything that had taken place.18

Within my media interviews I have been very transparent, explaining to BBC Scotland that, on re-entering the Commons building for the first time after Christmas break, I witnessed one of the worst cases of verbal abuse directed towards security staff that I have seen in my time in Parliament. Lord Maginnis had forgotten his pass, however, instead of taking the advice of the security staff. Who are only here for our security and our safety, he proceeded to verbally abuse and shout at the security staff, calling them “crooked”, saying “did they not know who he was, as he’d been here in Parliament for several years”. I felt this behaviour was totally unacceptable and in my opinion has no place in Parliament, which is why I felt the need to raise the issue within the House of Commons.

Lord Maginnis response shocked me further. He personally attacked me with homophobic remarks in the press, while the suggestion that I stood up in the chamber because we potentially shared differing political views or because of my sexual orientation I find this insulting.

I highlighted Lord Maginnis’ behaviour because he acted appalling to the security staff, and for no other reason. Also reviewing the content of the reported comments made by Lord Maginnis to the Huffington Post I believe them to be homophobic in nature and grossly offensive. There is no need to refer to me as a “queer” and the use of the word queer, coupled with other similar words are used within derogatory tone.

I am a lesbian and I identify as being part of a queer community however that does not give Lord Maginnis the right to use the term as one of offence against me. When I read the comments initially I was deeply shocked and really taken aback. I was within the parliamentary estate and took a few minutes to digest them, I sent them to my partner and mother as well as a few friends, in some ways just to check that it wasn’t just me who was shocked. Similarly I shared them with a few colleagues many of whom physically inhaled and gasped when reading them. In terms of how I felt, after the shock was a disbelief that someone who is in a position of such privilege and power and is also by definition as colleague in my workplace could say something so offensive. I felt sick and still do.

It’s fair to say the events of that day and the comments made railroaded me somewhat. I was totally knocked off course and distracted. In the days that have followed these events and his comments I’ve found my work has been significantly affected not least because I’ve been having to deal with abuse over posts on social media, abusive and threatening mail and threatening emails.

I would like to add that although I feel all the remarks allegedly attributed to Lord Maginnis are wholly unacceptable, but particularly this quote

‘Queers like Ms Bardell don’t particularly annoy me. OK, she’s got her cheap publicity out of it’

I do not understand the necessity to refer to another human being and professional colleague in this way.

There’s no doubt in my mind that these comments and his reason for making them are motivated by his homophobia and my sexuality. Lord Maginnis has in the past likened homosexuality to bestiality and has form on making abusive comments about the LGBT community. He had no idea who I was at the time of the incident yet now he seems to be using my sexuality as way to attack me and explain away why I called out his aggressive and abusive behaviour.

The key thing that strikes me as alarming and very much in the public interest is that if Lord Maginnis is happy and able to behave this way and with intent towards another elected member how might he behave towards staff and other members of the public. I fear bumping into him in my workplace and do not feel that I am now safe from abuse in my place of work.

Initially the Speaker of the House of Commons referred the incident to the police and the police contacted me but I would have reported it regardless. For far too long I have experienced and suffered from homophobic abuse - which I have reported, but I think when I read Lord Maginnis’ comments I snapped. In addition, given the role and privilege he holds as a legislator and how public and brazen his comments are I felt it of significant importance to report him to the police.

I have never met or had any dealings with Lord Maginnis, until my encounter with him at the door of the Commons I was unaware of him.

Finally following on from this incident I received several abusive emails and comments on social media, as well as several supporting comments from the general public.

But unfortunately I also received a personal message, threatening direct violence against me, based on my response to the reported comments by Lord Maginnis.

I was alarmed and upset by the content of this threatening message and it was very unpleasant viewing the message. This threat against me is now being investigated by the police.

I have made this statement of my own free will and I am willing to attend court if needed. I have discussed this case at length with police and I understand that the question of any prosecution of the offender in this matter is a matter for the Crown Prosecution Service.

Further Statement

Further to the above I would like to formally lodge a complaint of misconduct in public office against Lord Ken Maginnis.

You will see from my statement and account of events the nature of his behaviour and the impact it has had on me both personally and professionally. For your awareness I have received one legitimate and credible death threat, a number of abusive comments on social media and 2 separate items of abusive and threatening handwritten letters that the police are investigating in addition. This incident has had a profound impact on me and my mental health. One of the reasons that I have taken so long to get in touch directly is that I have needed time to process the events and deal with both the impact of the events and the inevitable media interest. That is something I am still in the process of doing and am additionally seeking counselling.

Further, I am genuinely fearful of encountering Lord Maginnis in my place of work, especially after the further information I have uncovered relating his persistently abusive behaviour towards other staff and members. I encountered him last week and managed to duck into a lift to avoid a confrontation but I am angry and frustrated that I should be put in that position, it has had a seriously detrimental impact on my mental health.

I do not currently feel safe in my Westminster place of work because of this man and I would like to know what can be done about this. I am fearful not just for me but for the staff who work on the estate.

It is my understanding from the Clerk of the Parliaments whom I met recently that you will not be able to begin your investigation until the criminal proceedings have ended. I am concerned that could take some time and would like to understand what can be done now to protect myself and the staff of the estate.

Comments and testimony of staff

Following my statements on the floor of the House of Commons and in the media a significant number of staff from the parliamentary estate have come forward to advise me that they have been verbally abused themselves by Lord Maginnis (the majority of complaints) and other members of both houses in general. They advised specifically when they are challenging Lord Maginnis on the wearing of his pass and similarly when other members are challenged for the same offence they are receiving abusive comments and treatment. I am in the process of speaking to the individuals and seeking permission to share individual concerns. What has become abundantly clear however is that until I spoke up in the chamber staff did not feel represented or that complaints would be taken seriously, many have said as much to me directly, particularly a number of the doorkeepers.

This has been incredibly shocking to me and also incredibly sad. I can share anonymously some of what has ben shared to date. One doorkeeper thanked me for standing up to Lord Maginnis and said, ‘He’s been behaving like this for years.’ When I asked what he meant and whether this comment was in relation to not wearing his pass or being abusive the doorkeeper answered very simply, ‘both.’ They continued, ‘he’s been abusing staff for years, is often drunk and has in the past been violent.’ This was corroborated by 2 members of the DUP and one Labour member who spoke of an incident when Lord Maginnis caused upset at an APPG on Turkey. He has, I am told a property in Turkey and somehow managed, after the consumption of a significant amount of alcohol, to enter this meeting and start an argument. The Labour MP only mentioned the argument however the 2 DUP MP’s advised that the police were called and Lord Maginnis hit the officer outside of the meeting. Apparently it was reported and recorded at the time but nothing happened. I find this revelation utterly incredible. Similarly a security guard stopped me recently to tell me of his experience. Apparently at a reception on Irish/ British relations Lord Maginnis was challenged for being drunken and disorderly by this security guard. Lord Maginnis apparently shouted in his face, made some derogatory comments (on the basis they are on differences sides of the religious divide) and then pulled the Irish flag - which was on a table alongside a British one - out of the table and threw it over the wall of the terrace. The security guard then responded by saying he didn’t think that would do much for the peace process. He was then met with further verbal abuse.

I have also had a staff member who runs the Global LGBT+ APPG19 tell me, in person, about the homophobic and abusive email she received when she sent a notification around both houses regarding an LGBTI event. She advised that she called the helpline but was told because it had only happened once it could not be investigated.

It seems perfectly clear to me that Lord Maginnis has no place in any parliament as a legislator and his behaviour is utterly beyond reproach.

It’s hard to describe how committing all of the above to writing makes me feel. I am someone who is in a position of some privilege and power and yet I am fearful of this individual. It is clear to me that his behaviour and abuse of staff is widespread and has been going on for a very long time. I hope you will treat these allegations and concerns with the upmost seriousness because I for one will continue to do all can to make Westminster a better place to work and if staff and members are to have faith in the new processes it strikes me that issues like this need dealt with swiftly and seriously.

I will be copying the above to the Speaker of the House of Commons who has been incredibly supportive of me personally and I know, like yourself, is very determined to improve behaviour and culture within Westminster.

I would be happy to met in person at any time to discuss and please don’t hesitate to contact me for any further information.

17 ‘Peer Accuses MP Of Calling Out His ‘Abusive’ Behaviour Because She Is ‘Queer’’, HuffPost (8 January 2020): [accessed 27 November 2020]

18 Hannah Bardell MP was inteviewed on The Nine, BBC Scotland on 9 January 2020. The episode is not available online, but a clip appears at @BBCScotNine, Tweet on 9 January 2020: [accessed 27 November 2020].

19 The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global Global Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT+) Rights

© Parliamentary copyright 2020