WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
April 16 2024
WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
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Calls for a new supervisory system to deal with sexual allegations against MPs

Calls for a new supervisory system to deal with sexual allegations against MPs

Life in the justice gap: illustration from Proof magazine, issue 3. Simon Pemberton

Former senior party whips call for a formal HR system that would handle cases of sexual misconduct against members of parliament (MPs). The proposal for an independent supervisory body comes in response to many party whips expressing that they do not have the training to deal with allegations against MPs, despite being expected to do so.

If established, the body would be responsible for determining whether or not MPs accused of sexual offenses should be banned from parliament. In the case that the parliamentary authorities are provided with legitimate evidence of sexual misconduct on the part of MPs, a staff panel would be responsible for investigating the allegations. The panel would then examine the severity of the claim and if the MPs pose a threat to Parliament. These proposals have been subject to scrutiny, with some MPs arguing that MPs “should not be excluded unless they are charged by police, and others arguing that the threshold for exclusion should be lower.”

The proposal to have a separate division dealing with the external conduct of MPs comes in the wake of various high-profile Westminster sexual allegation cases. Former Tory party whip Anne Milton has previously had to deal with the sexual assault allegations against Charlie Elphicke, a former MP that represented Kent from 2010 to 2019. Elphicke was charged and found guilty of three counts of sexual assault against two women, and admitted that he was “not telling the police the truth when they asked him about one of the women he was accused of sexually assaulting.” While Elphicke was in the midst of accusations, he still held his position as an MP despite the Conservative party knowing about the allegations against him for a year. Elphicke was later suspended, but was reinstated to his position while being under investigation by the police. There was widespread criticism over the fact that Elphicke was still eligible for reelection despite being on trial.

Anne Milton, a former party whip, spoke on the issue to BBC, stating that “the whips’ offices are not equipped and don’t have the expertise to deal with complaints of this nature.” She, alongside other party whips, expressed that the position of the party whip is to deal with government business, not the external affairs of MPs.

There are currently more sexual assault cases against MPs that are under police investigation, such as that of Tory MP Julian Knight, demoted from party whip once the allegations came out, but continued to sit as an independent MP.

These cases, as well as multiple others, have served as the catalyst for proposals for an HR system that would supervise the sexual allegations against MPs and potentially bar them from Parliament.