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Tue, 26 January 2021

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Peers Vote to Suspend Lord Maginnis For 18 Months After Homophobic Bullying Of MPs

Peers Vote to Suspend Lord Maginnis For 18 Months After Homophobic Bullying Of MPs

Lord Maginnis will now be suspended from the upper chamber for 18 months after a standards investigation (PA)

3 min read

Peers have voted to suspend Lord Maginnis from the upper chamber for 18 months after he was found to have made homophobic slurs and harassed several MPs.

More than 400 members of the upper chamber backed the recommendations of a standards committee investigation, although 23 joined him in voting against the suspension.

The inquiry was sparked by an incident in January when Lord Maginnis was accused of being "verbally abusive" to a security officer, Christian Bombolo, when he was asked to show his pass at the entrance to Parliament.

The SNP MP Hannah Bardell witnessed the incident, and complained that when she attempted to intervene she was treated "rudely and aggressively" by the peer.

Questioned over what happened Lord Maginnis then used "homophobic and derogatory language about her" in comments to HuffPost, she claimed.

Mr Bombolo told investigators the incident had left him feeling “humiliated” and “worthless”, and said he had “lost my esteem, my dignity” after Lord Maginnis called him  “crooked”, a “little git” and a “jobsworth” in the HuffPost report. 

The veteran politician, who was an MP for 18 years before being handed a peerage in 2001, was also found by the committee to have harassed two Labour MPs in separate incidents this year at meetings in Parliament.

As a result the House of Lords Commissioner for Standards Lucy Scott-Moncrief opened an investigation into four separate complaints under the provisions of the code of conduct “dealing with bullying, harassment or sexual misconduct”.

Ms Bardell told the commissioner she “felt really intimidated” by the same incident, however the Northern Irish peer claimed her complaint was based purely on his opposition to same-sex marriage and was part of an organised campaign to persecute him. 

Lord Maginnis had denied bullying and harassment and called the report, which found he had breached the code in all four instances, “ridiculous”.

The House of Lords conduct committee recommended his suspension “should be extended beyond 18 months if he fails to engage constructively with behaviour change training”, and should not be lifted until the peer is able to demonstrate a “clear understanding of how his behaviour impacts on other people in the Parliamentary community”.

Initially Ms Scott-Moncrief proposed he should be excluded from the upper chamber for nine months, but after he appealed the decision she found he showed "no remorse for the upset he had caused”.

He instead “portrayed himself as a victim of a conspiracy…and continued to refer to the complainants in a disobliging and sometimes offensive manner”, leading the committee to double the recommended suspension time.

A motion to approve the suspension was put to a vote this morning, with 408 content, and 24 not content.

Of those who voted against it included fellow Northern Irish peer Lord Kilcooney, who was criticised for calling US vice-president-elect Kamala Harris "the Indian” in a tweet last month, as well as Lord Stone of Blackheath, who was suspended by Labour last year after being found guilty of harassing four female staff and making transphobic comments.

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