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Wed, 15 July 2020

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Former Lib Dem peer quits House of Lords over sexual harassment claims

Former Lib Dem peer quits House of Lords over sexual harassment claims

Emilio Casalicchio

2 min read

An ex-Lib Dem peer who was facing a record ban from the House of Lords over sexual harassment allegations dramatically quit the Upper Chamber last night.

82-year-old Lord Lester, who denies a claim of misconduct 12 years ago, could have been booted out of the Lords for almost four years.

He was suspended by the Liberal Democrats earlier this year after the allegation by author and activist Jasvinder Sanghera came to light.

A House of Lords committee found Lord Lester “had sexually harassed the complainant, had offered her a corrupt inducement to have sexual relations with her, and had warned her of unspecified consequences if she did not accept his offer”.

He is said to have told Ms Sanghera: “If you sleep with me, I will make you a baroness within a year.”

The privileges and conduct committee recommended he be suspended until June 2022, but peers voted to send the decision back for a rethink amid claims the investigation was flawed.

But the committee upheld its decision last month and peers were set to vote again in the coming days.

Lord Lester instead said he was quitting the Lords with "immediate effect" since the probe had "taken a serious toll on my health"

“I do not have the strength or health to continue. I am sorry that this issue has caused so much upset to everyone involved and very much hope that the House of Lords will now take the long called-for step of reforming its procedures," he said.

"I have always said that allegations of this kind should be properly investigated."

A Liberal Democrat spokesman said: “Lord Lester has made the right decision in retiring from the House of Lords.

“The leadership of the Liberal Democrats supported the original report from the Privileges Committee that had recommended his suspension from the House.

“We hope that Lord Lester's decision now draws a line under this situation.”


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