Unions welcome Dame Laura Cox’s report into Parliamentary bullying

Unions have welcomed Dame Laura Cox’s enquiry into the bullying and harassment of House of Commons staff.

The  new report backed calls from unions to introduce a process that is independent of MPs and for historic cases to be able to be considered.

FDA assistant general secretary Amy Leversidge said: “The House of Commons needs to wake up. Dame Laura hits the nail on the head when she said that tolerating bullying diminishes the legitimacy and authority of Parliament itself.

“Her recommendations echo the FDA’s own. The Respect Policy is fundamentally flawed and must be replaced. The new independent complaints and grievance procedure introduced by Andrea Leadsom’s group in July replicates many of the fundamental failings of the policy.

“Importantly, Dame Laura recommends that all historical cases should be allowed to be investigated under the new complaints policy. This would be a necessary step towards delivering justice, and one the FDA has been calling for.

“The MPs made the arbitrary decision to restrict past cases to the start of the last Parliament (June 2017), effectively wiping the slate clean for the bullies. Given that Dame Laura was presented with a ‘series of serious allegations of abusive conduct made against particular individuals… some of whom were regarded as serial offenders’, it is imperative that individuals be allowed to raise their complaints.

“Dame Laura’s third recommendation that the new policy should be amended to ensure that it is ‘entirely independent process in which Members of Parliament will play no part’ is crucial. We have said for years that this was the fundamental problem with the Respect Policy, and the reason why it has failed so badly. Self-regulation is a system that has been found to fail time and time again and the 155 pages of shocking and disturbing testimony in Dame Laura’s report shows how it has not only failed to protect House staff from bullying MPs, but has allowed this toxic culture to thrive.

“The House must change. Every MP should read this report, and Parliament needs to act on its recommendation immediately. It is clear that the House cannot say that it has a zero-tolerance approach to bullying and harassment while it still tolerates what has happened in the past, and preserves a system designed to work for MPs, rather than what is right and what is needed.

“These are not the first stories of bullying, harassment and sexual harassment. Urgent action is required to ensure that they are the last. Until Parliament implements these recommendations, the House of Commons will continue to be as fragile as a House of Cards.”

Prospect deputy general secretary Garry Graham said: “This is a really strong report that should be the final nail in the coffin of the outdated culture in parliament that has allowed bullying and harassment of staff to go unchecked and unpunished.

“Dame Cox is right to back calls from the unions for a fully independent process that is able to consider historic claims against MPs.

“Parliament is fundamentally a place of work, it is time for those with responsibility to reflect on this report and put in place a new policy and culture in keeping with modern workplaces that puts the safety and wellbeing of staff first.”

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