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MP to report peer to police after accusing him of 'homophobic attack' in staff abuse row

3 min read

SNP MP Hannah Bardell is set to report a peer to the police for launching a “homophobic attack” on her after she accused him of “abusive” behaviour towards parliamentary security staff.

The Livingston MP told the Commons on Wednesday that she witnessed Lord Ken Maginnis verbally abusing and shouting at security staff after he forgot his pass, “calling them ‘crooked’”, and sought advice from the Speaker on how he could be held accountable for “one of the worst cases of abuse” she had seen in Parliament.

Following the intervention, Lord Maginnis told HuffPost UK that Ms Bardell was attempting to “settle a score” because she is “queer” and he opposes gay marriage.

He told the site: “(It) would probably all have blown over except this Bardell woman decided to get herself a bit of publicity.

“She and I are known to be on other sides - I am opposed to abortion, I am opposed to gay people like her seeking to change marriage...

“She obviously being what she is and wanting to make changes decided she would score a few points for herself.”

He added: “Queers like Ms Bardell don’t particularly annoy me. Okay, she’s got her cheap publicity out of it.”

Addressing the development in the Commons on Thursday, Ms Bardell said she would report his comments as a hate crime to police.

“I’m sorry to say the member from the other place who I have complained about has now launched a homophobic attack on me in the press,” she said.

“This will be reported to the police and I know that I and others consider this to be a hate crime. 

“We must set the best possible standards from this place for other LGBT people and our staff to send a message that this kind of behaviour is not acceptable here or anywhere else.”

Leader of the House Jacob Rees-Mogg condemned the alleged attack as “unutterably disgraceful” and said Ms Bardell was “clearly owed an apology” by the Northern Irish life peer.

“I think everybody who heard about that was shocked by the comments that he is reported to have made and have not denied,” Mr Rees-Mogg said.

“I think they are really appalling and I know we are not allowed to criticise members of the other House except on a specific motion but I think under these circumstances we are allowed to stretch the rules.”

The Lords Speaker, Lord Fowler also weighed in to condemn the "totally unacceptable" language reported.

"I am deeply concerned by recent reports of a Member of the House of Lords directing offensive language towards parliamentary security staff and a Member of Parliament. The reported behaviour and use of such language is totally unacceptable and has no place in Parliament," he said.

“We are working hard to build an inclusive and respectful environment, and behaviour such as this totally undermines our collective efforts."

He added: “Security on the parliamentary estate is everyone’s responsibility. Any disregard for security rules is against the interests of us all. Our security staff do a difficult job with the utmost professionalism and deserve support from all members.”

Lord Maginnis of Drumglass' office has been contacted for comment. 

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