Former Labour MP breached parliament sexual misconduct policy, report finds

Elliot Chappell
© David Woolfall/CC BY 3.0

A report published this morning has concluded that former Labour MP for Hartlepool Mike Hill breached parliament’s sexual misconduct policy.

The 31-page document, produced by the independent panel that adjudicates on complaints against MPs for sexual misconduct and bullying, said the body would have “likely considered” recommending he be suspended had he not stepped down earlier this year.

It stated: “The sub-panel took a very serious view of [Hill’s] conduct, and had he remained a member of parliament, a significant sanction would have been under consideration. In the light of his resignation however, the sub-panel concluded that no available sanction met the facts of this case and the specific circumstances of the responder. They therefore did not impose or recommend a sanction.”

The report recommended no sanctions be implemented in the case of the former MP. Sanctions could have included withdrawing his parliamentary pass, available to all ex-MPs, but Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle has taken this course of action separately.

The complaints in the report were that Hill subjected a staff member to behaviour amounting to sexual misconduct in shared private accommodation and in his office, and that he had had victimised and discriminated against her in the workplace.

The report follows testimony to an employment tribunal last week, in which the claimant told the hearing that Hill conducted a campaign of sexual harassment and bullying against her over the 16-month period she worked in his office.

‘Ms A’ told the hearing that Hill had made her feel “scared, extremely confused, violated and powerless”, and alleged that he had sent her messages saying “I crave your body”, “I love you” and that he “wanted a sexual relationship”.

She said the MP would frequently grab her bottom if they were both in his parliamentary office. Hill’s lawyer challenged her, saying the harassment did not happen and that Ms A had initiated cuddles with Hill. She denied the claim.

Ms A alleged that she was refused a pay rise and lost her job after declining the advances of Hill. She submitted a complaint of sexual assault, harassment and victimisation with the party and with the parliamentary complaints scheme.

Hill was suspended from the Labour Party in September 2019 amid allegations that he sexually harassed a woman who worked in parliament, but was later readmitted. He stood down as an MP in March. He has denied the allegations.

Labour MP for Blackburn Kate Hollern stepped down from her position as a local government shadow minister last week after she was accused of interfering in the sexual harassment complaint against Hill.

During the testimony given to the employment tribunal, Hollern was accused of trying to warn off Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen from helping a member of staff. The shadow minister resigned from her frontbench post.

Responding to the testimony, Hollern said: “I am absolutely clear that any complaint of sexual harassment should be treated extremely seriously and had this been raised with me I would have taken the necessary action.

“It was never my intention to undermine the support the complainant was receiving, which I was unaware of at the time. If that is what Mr Bridgen was led to believe, I apologise for my error in judgement in having the conversation.”

Update: It is understood that Hill has now been administratively suspended as a Labour member pending further investigation.

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