Saturday, 27 Nov 2021

Rob Roberts: Disgraced MP suspended for sexually harassing staff member is readmitted to Conservative Party

An MP who sexually harassed a member of his staff has been given his Conservative membership back – despite a warning that doing so would “let him off the hook”.

The Tory party confirmed on Monday that Rob Roberts is now a member again, having served a 12-week suspension for his behaviour.

Mr Roberts, who represents the constituency of Delyn in North Wales, will continue to sit as an independent MP in the House of Commons as the whip is still being withheld, a Conservative Party spokesperson said.

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner has described Mr Roberts being reinstated as a Tory party member as “a disgrace”.

“Rob Roberts has no place in parliament, politics or public life,” Ms Rayner said.

Meanwhile, Labour’s chair Anneliese Dodds said Mr Roberts should have resigned as an MP when he was suspended.

“Rob Roberts should have resigned as an MP the moment he was suspended. That he is now set to return to the Conservative Party shows they’ve let him off the hook,” she said.

Mr Roberts was stripped of the Conservative Party whip after an independent panel earlier this year found he sexually harassed a member of his staff.

The ex-staff member who made the complaint in June last year said Mr Roberts had repeatedly propositioned him, leaving him feeling “shocked” and “horrified”.

Mr Roberts, who became an MP in 2019, has since apologised for his “completely improper” behaviour.

He has insisted his actions were “romantic” rather than sexual.

In May, MPs approved a motion to suspend Mr Roberts from attending the House of Commons for six weeks – in line with the punishment recommended by the independent panel.

The Conservative Party decided to suspend Mr Roberts for 12 weeks, twice the recommended duration.

Many senior MPs including Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg have previously urged Mr Roberts to stand down as a member of parliament following the panel’s findings.

As Mr Roberts was suspended by an independent panel rather than a parliamentary committee, a legal loophole meant he was not subject to a recall petition – which could have led to a by-election being held in Delyn.

Angered by the matter, MPs last month voted to change the rules so members suspended for offences including sexual harassment or bullying can now face a recall petition.

However, MPs voted against Labour’s proposal to make the rule changes retrospective, meaning they cannot be applied to Mr Roberts.

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