Disgraced Former Tory MP Rob Roberts Will Be Allowed Back Into The Conservative Party From Monday
A former staff member to Rob Roberts has told PoliticsHome of their concerns over the fact the disgraced MP will be allowed to re-join the Conservative party as a member from Monday next week.
Roberts was suspended from the Tory party for 12 weeks in August after a report by Parliament's Independent Expert Panel found the MP had “made repeated and unwanted sexual advances” towards a member of his staff and had made “inappropriate comments of a sexual nature”.
CCHQ confirmed to PoliticsHome today that Roberts will not have his suspension extended.
However, the Conservative party will not restore the Whip to Roberts, which was withdrawn in May, so the MP will remain sitting as an independent.
A former staff member who worked in Roberts’ office told PoliticsHome of their concerns about the MP being allowed back into the party from Monday.
“It’s very concerning that even after a Parliamentary suspension, an individual who causes so much concern amongst young Tories and fellow MPs alike is allowed back into the party, giving him access to a wide range of people,” the staffer said.
Roberts’ was one of the first cases to be judged by Parliament’s Independent Expert Panel, which was formed to investigate bullying and harassment cases last November.
The MP acknowledged during an investigation by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Kathryn Stone, that “aspects of his behaviour… were inappropriate” and offered an apology.
But he rejected the categorisation of his conduct as “sexual”, preferring the term “romantic”, and denied making repeated advances.
The commissioner concluded that Roberts’ “abuse of power/authority and his lack of insight in respect to his conduct and his understanding of appropriate boundaries in the workplace were aggravating factors” in the case.
He was suspended from the Commons in May this year for six weeks on the Panel’s recommendation.
"It is appalling that Rob Roberts has got off so lightly from his sexual harassment and abuse of power,” Jenny Symmons, chair of GMB Members’ staff told PoliticsHome.
“Roberts has no place being in public life and should be thoroughly condemned by his Party and our Government. His continued presence on the Parliamentary estate is a threat to all staff, but particularly his own.
“We are disappointed that it was not recommended he face a recall petition, or at the very least, be banned from Parliament's bar facilities where young staff tend to gather."
Responding to news of Roberts being readmitted into the Conservative party membership, Chair of the Labour Party, Anneliese Dodds, told PoliticsHome: "This is scandalous. Rob Roberts should have resigned as an MP the moment he was suspended from Parliament for sexual misconduct.
"That he is now set to return to the Conservative Party shows they’ve let him off the hook.
"Just last week, the Government voted against allowing Rob Roberts’ constituents to choose whether he is the right person to represent them, and now they are choosing to readmit him as a member of their party. Yet again, the Conservative Party is acting like there's one rule for their MPs and another rule for everyone else."
A spokesperson for CCHQ told PoliticsHome: “Rob Roberts' membership suspension concludes on Monday 1st November after serving a 12-week suspension.
“The Whip will remain suspended.”
Rob Roberts has been contacted for comment.
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