Bullying claim against Labour frontbencher Valerie Vaz ‘was not investigated’ by party
An accusation of bullying made against Labour frontbencher Valerie Vaz was not followed up by the party, it has emerged.
According to the New Statesman, a former staff member this year complained that they had been bullied by the shadow Commons leader back in 2012.
The party’s head of complaints Sophie Goodyear responded to the allegations, stating: “We have considered your case and believe the passage of time means it will be difficult to conclude a case fairly.
“Therefore we will not be taking formal disciplinary action.”
A spokesman for Ms Vaz hit back at the claims, saying they were “vindictive and defamatory” and adding that she was “committed to tackling bullying and harassment in Westminster”.
Ms Vaz has been speaking for Labour during the latest bullying and harassment scandal to hit Westminster.
In a damning report released this week, Dame Laura Cox described a “disturbing” culture of abuse, which was being "actively” covered up by parliamentary bosses.
She called for senior management - including the Commons Speaker John Bercow - to step down in response to the findings.
Ms Vaz responded to the inquiry in the House on Tuesday, saying: “It is never easy for an institution when the spotlight is, quite rightly, shone in this way…
“We need to heed Dame Laura’s suggestion that we need to take time to consider this very important report.
“[Labour] will continue to work on a cross-party basis to tackle this and ensure new procedures are as robust and effective as possible to protect everyone working in and visiting this House.”
Responding to the claims against Ms Vaz, a Labour spokesperson said: “The Labour Party takes all complaints of bullying extremely seriously, and we insisted that new complaints processes in parliament fully cover bullying as well as harassment and sexual misconduct.
“We are pleased these processes are now in place and we will continue to bring forward proposals to ensure they as robust as possible. We cannot comment on individual complaints.”
Fellow Labour frontbencher Emily Thornberry sparked controversy earlier this week when she suggested that Mr Bercow should stay on as the Speaker in order to oversee the Brexit process in Parliament.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn later distanced himself from the comments, with his spokesman insisting that Ms Thornberry was giving “her personal view”.