Tory MP Daniel Kawczynski Could Be Suspended From Commons After “Insincere” Bullying Apology
The Tory MP Daniel Kawczynski will be suspended from the Commons for one day if the report's recommendations are accepted (Alamy)
A Conservative MP will be suspended from the Commons for a day after he was found to have undermined his own apology for bullying Parliamentary staff.
The standards committee recommended the sanction against Daniel Kawczynski after an investigation found he had caused “significant damage to the reputation and integrity of the House of Commons as a whole” over the affair.
An inquiry was launched by the standards commissioner Kathryn Stone after a complaint from the chair of the Independent Expert Panel (IEP), which rules on cases under the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS) for MPs.
On 14 June last year the panel found Kawczynski, who has been the Tory MP for Shrewsbury since 2005, acted in a "threatening and intimidating manner" towards two staff members after he was unable to join a committee hearing due to technical problems.
It recommended he apologise on the floor of the House – which he did later that day – but before he did so, he had spoken to the media, which led to a formal complaint that he had breached confidentiality requirements by identifying the complainants in his case and had failed to comply with the sanction which required he give an “unequivocal” apology.
The commissioner concluded he had indeed disclosed identifying information about his complainants, and that he told a journalist he felt bullied by the system, meaning he “failed to comply with the requirements of confidentiality established by the IEP in its guidance, and in specific instructions given to him”.
She said she found his actions sent “a message to the complainants that the apology he gave is insincere”, and as well as breaching the code of conduct his actions would have a detrimental effect on those who may be considering making a complaint or are going through the process, and undermined the ICGS.
Stone’s report to the standards committee added: “In undermining his apology Kawczynski has in effect failed to comply with the sanction imposed by the IEP.”
The MP did not challenge the commissioner's findings, but gave evidence in mitigation about his experience of childhood trauma, recent emotional stress, and repeatedly said he had been on a “journey” towards better self-knowledge and an understanding of why his conduct had fallen short.
But the standards committee noted in his evidence that Kawczynski repeatedly referred to "the complainant" rather than acknowledge there were two in his case, which they said “raises concern that he has still not fully grasped all the essentials of this matter”, and he has focussed on his own personal "journey" rather than “on the damage he may have caused to others”.
Their report adds: “The committee feels that Mr Kawczynski has an intellectual understanding that he has damaged the ICGS system, but is still struggling with a capacity for genuine empathy with others, and as a result still has a tendency, which he may not fully realise, to see himself rather than others as the ‘victim’ in what has happened.”
It concluded there were mitigating factors, such as his full co-operation with the commissioner's investigation and with the committee’s inquiry, and his unreserved apology for his conduct the day the IEP report came out.
But it is recommending Kawczynski be “suspended from the service of the House for one sitting day (which should not be a Friday)”, and he should make a further apology to the Commons by way of a personal statement.
He must say sorry to the original complainants, the standards commissioner and the chair of the IEP for his conduct, and give a commitment “to an improved attitude and behaviour and an invitation to other members to learn from his experience”.
The recommendations must now be tabled in the chamber and approved by MPs before Kawczynski is sanctioned.
PoliticsHome provides the most comprehensive coverage of UK politics anywhere on the web, offering high quality original reporting and analysis: Subscribe