Theresa May unveils Tory code of conduct to police sex pest MPs

Posted On: 
3rd November 2017

Theresa May has revealed a new code of conduct for Conservative MPs in a bid to stamp out sexual harassment in the party.

The Westminster sex pest scandal has been a challenge for Theresa May
PA Images

In a letter to Speaker John Bercow, the Prime Minister said there was “undoubtedly a role for political parties to play” in tackling sleaze and serious abuse at Westminster.

It follows the dramatic resignation this week of Michael Fallon as defence secretary, after he apologised for touching a journalist’s knee and reportedly faced further allegations.

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Two other top ministers - Damian Green and Mark Garnier - are currently under investigation by the Cabinet Office over claims of inappropriate behaviour.

The new Tory code lays out the mechanism by which MPs, peers, MEPs and others could be stripped of their membership for inappropriate behaviour.

It says those in power should “not use their position to bully, abuse, victimise, harass or unlawfully discriminate against others”.

And it calls on office holders to “take reasonable steps to ensure that people who wish to raise concerns about bullying, discrimination, harassment and/or victimisation by others feel able to do so”.

In a break from the previous code, it says any investigation into inappropriate conduct will include one independent person as well as representatives for the accused and the accuser.

Mrs May said political parties played an important role, but she insisted a separate independent body must be convened to help police bad behaviour in parliament.

"Whilst there is undoubtedly a role for political parties to play, it cannot be right when dealing with serious issues relating to behaviour in Parliament that vulnerable or concerned people are expected to navigate different grievance procedures according to political party," she argued.

"The Government – and the Conservative party – believe that there needs to be a common, transparent, independent grievance procedure for all those working in parliament who wish to raise concerns, which provides clarity and certainty about how their concerns will be dealt with and the support they will receive."

The Prime Minister will meet the leaders of the other parties on Monday to hammer out a plan for a central complaints system.

This morning Labour MP John Mann laid out proposals for a new code of conduct for his own party, which he hopes it will adopt at a meeting next week.