Former Labour MP Breached Sexual Misconduct Policy, Report Finds
Former Labour MP Mike Hill got into the bed of a former parliamentary worker while she was asleep and attempted to touch her sexually without her consent, a new report has detailed today.
He also came up behind her in his parliamentary office and touched her inappropriately.
Details of the ex-Hartlepool MP’s conduct were outlined in a report by Parliament’s Independent Expert Panel released today, which found he breached Parliament’s sexual misconduct policy for initiating a sexual act without her consent.
Hill denies all the allegations made against him.
The case was referred to the IEP by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Kathryn Stone, when both the complainant and Hill appealed the findings made by the independent investigator on the case.
Today the IEP upheld the commissioner’s original finding that Hill had got into the woman’s bed and touched her inappropriately without her consent. Hill had appealed this.
They also found a second allegation - of him touching her in the office - should be upheld, essentially overturning the Commissioner’s original finding. Hill had also appealed this.
On a third allegation, that Hill had victimised and discriminated against her in the workplace because she had made the allegations against him, the IEP agreed with the Commissioner that it was not proved.
The complainant, who worked for Hill and also lodged with him in his one bedroom flat – where she had the bedroom and he slept on the sofa - said during the investigation that his behaviour had a severe impact on her self-esteem, confidence, dignity and general well-being.
The panel found Hill, who was elected in 2017, did not acknowledge the sexual misconduct or the impact of it, and had not apologised to her.
The report said: “He expressed remorse, but only for the circumstances in which he now found himself.”
Giving evidence to the panel, Hill had said he was ‘mortified’ by their findings and the whole process had affected his mental and physical health.
He said he had got himself “into a stupid situation of my own making”.
Speaker Lindsay Hoyle has now removed his right to maintain a pass to Parliament, following the IEP. The panel noted their range of punishments available were “extremely limited” because he is no longer an MP.
He quit on March 16 triggering a by-election in his seat, which was won by the Conservatives.
The IEP noted that the relationship between the worker and Hill was “unusual and complex” and there was an apparent closeness between them, as well as rows.
Hill appealed the finding that he had got into her bed and touched her without consent, saying the complainant had “controlled the narrative” and decided which text messages and covert recordings to hand over to the investigator.
However the IEP read the text messages and said they were “not persuaded that they are a manipulated selection, likely to create a false picture”.
They said they had helped the investigation and demonstrated his strong hope for a sexual relationship with her in the one-bedroom flat.
One text said he “craved her body” and another showed he hoped they would get married, despite him being married at the time.
Hill also appealed the finding on the grounds that the complaint was made much later after the alleged incidents and was timed to coincide with the difficulties he claimed she was facing at work. Also, that her behaviour at work and at home was “atypical of a victim of sexual misconduct”.
The panel found that “survival strategies of victims vary”.
On the second allegation that he had come up behind her in his Parliamentary office and touched her, which he denied, the initial investigator found that the allegations were ‘not substantiated sufficiently by the evidence’. She appealed this.
When the IEP reviewed this allegation, they found the investigator had raised the standard of proof to a level which was higher than justified and had made an error.
Sir Stephen Irwin, Chair of the IEP said: “The sub-panel took a very serious view of his conduct, and had he remained a Member of Parliament, a significant sanction would have been under consideration. In the light of his resignation however, the sub-panel concluded that no available sanction met the facts of this case and the specific circumstances of the Responder. They therefore did not impose or recommend a sanction.
“Despite the requirements of confidentiality placed on both the Reporter and the Responder during the ICGS process, allegations of sexual harassment and victimisation have previously been made public through the press and social media channels. I consider that it is correct to publish this decision given both the serious nature of Mr Hill’s breach of the Sexual Misconduct Policy and the degree of publicity that has already taken place.”
Jenny Symmons, Chair of the GMB Parliamentary Workers Branch, said: "We are all deeply disappointed to find that the IEP determined no firm sanction should be placed on Mike Hill - despite serious allegations being upheld.
"While we are grateful the Speaker has made the decision to remove Mr Hill’s access to the estate, the IEP report concluded this would not be necessary. Parliament is workplace populated by young women, and all measures must be taken to help them feel safe at work.
"We all extend our full solidarity to [the complainant] at this very difficult time"