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Mon, 30 January 2023

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Labour MP Chris Matheson Resigns And Triggers By-Election After "Serious Sexual Misconduct" Finding

Labour MP Chris Matheson Resigns And Triggers By-Election After 'Serious Sexual Misconduct' Finding

Chris Matheson is facing a month long suspension from Parliament (Alamy)

3 min read

There will be a by-election in Chester after Labour MP Chris Matheson resigned following an investigation by the Commons Standards watchdog.

Matheson has stepped down as an MP after an independent complaints panel recommended he be suspended from Parliament for four weeks after they upheld two complaints of sexual misconduct.

The Independent Expert Panel recommended the punishment following an investigation triggered by complaints by a former member of Matheson's staff to Parliament's Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme.

A Labour spokesperson said they had immediately suspended Matheson from the party following the investigation, saying: "We will now select a candidate that the people of Chester can be proud to vote for."

The four week suspension could have led to Matheson facing a recall in his Chester seat, but he chose to resign instead.

In a statement, he said: "I have today, with great sadness, tendered my resignation as MP for the City of Chester.

"This follows publication of a report which had found me guilty of sexual misconduct."

He added: "From the start I accepted I had committed a minor breach of the code and had hoped that an honest and open approach would stand me in a fair light.

"This has proven not to be the case and I am dismayed that I have been found guilty of several allegations that I know to be untrue."

Matheson added that he had "no sexual motivation" but claimed this had been "held against me as a resufal to accept my guilt."

In a report published on Friday, the report concluded Matheson had invited the complainant to take a private trip abroad with him, which was "sexually motivated, unwanted, and had placed the complainant under pressure and intimidated her".

And it concluded that following a work-related event held outside Westminster that Matheson had "invited her back to his flat, kissed her twice on the forehead and attempted to kiss her on the mouth".

The report added: "The Commissioner concluded that these were all unwanted and unwelcome sexual advances."

The report said that Matheson did not appeal the Standards Commissioner's decision, but had contested some of the findings during the process for determining the sanction.

The investigation said while it took into account his acceptance of the behaviour, a sub-panel found his "continuing failure to acknowledge the full extent of his misconduct [was] an aggravating factor" and "insulting to the complaint".

They added: "There is no doubt that [Mr Matheson] was seeking to initiate a sexual relationship with the complainant, his junior employee. This wished-for relationship was unwanted and unwelcome throughout.

"The evidence confirms that his actions were entirely non-consensual, as well as threatening, intimidating, undermining and humiliating for the complainant."

Because of the "serious breach of the code", the panel suggested he be suspended for a month from Parliament.

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