Labour MP Janet Daby reveals there’s a long wait for the outcome of any racism and sexism complaint
Janet Daby has revealed she is still waiting for the outcome of a racism and sexism complaint she made nearly three years ago.
Daby said the alleged incident in 2018 made her feel as though she “did not belong here”.
Her case is “yet to be resolved,” she told MPs through a video link.
“I had a completely demoralising encounter,” said the politician
Janet Dab Labour MP for Lewisham East has been waiting almost three years for resolution to a complaint she made about racism and sexism, early in her political career.
Janet Dab was keen to raise the issue of discrimination against black, Asian and minority ethnic people, as MPs discussed the parliamentary complaints system on Wednesday, April 28.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Daby said: “I had a completely demoralising encounter when I was relatively new to this House.
“I was made to feel as though I did not belong here, and I feel that this was because of my gender as well as my ethnicity. Although this happened almost three years ago and I went through the formal complaints system, it is still yet to be resolved.
“Does this tell us tackling racial discrimination is a priority for the ICGS (Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme)?”
Daby emphasised that cases must be addressed in a timely fashion, with care and sensitivity
She highlighted a report by ParliReach, a workplace equality network from 2019, which found that their members were “reluctant to speak up when they felt discriminated against”.
In this report, it was also pointed out that non-desk staff, such as cleaners might face particular problems when making complaints.
The MP for Lewisham East said: “If their only option is to report something to their manager, who might themselves be the problem, it is not serving their needs.”
MPs have now approved a change to parliament’s complaints system which means that from next year allegations of harassment or bullying cannot be raised if the incident took place more than a year ago.
This does not however, apply to complaints about sexual misconduct.
The ICGS scheme was introduced in 2018, following allegations of bullying and harassment in Parliament.
Then Commons leader Andrea Leadsom said the new code would make sure everyone “is respected and valued” and would introduce “effective sanctions” for those breaking the rules.
The rules made clear there was a “zero-tolerance approach to bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct”, she stated.
In her speech, Ms Daby highlighted a 2019 report from ParliREACH, Parliament’s equalities network, which she said showed “the scale of difficulties that people from diverse backgrounds face”.
Staff working in the Commons, she said, “reported having their presence questioned and equal opportunities denied. ParliREACH said that many of its members were reluctant to speak up when they felt discriminated against”.
This, she said, was mainly because staff were worried about being seen to “call the race card”.
In February, an 18 month review into how well the ICGS was functioning was completed, and found “much progress” had been made, but raised concerns of operation and process, as well as equal access for diverse groups.
Ms Daby was speaking at a debate for changing the rules on reporting complaints to the Parliamentary Authorities.
Under the new rules, complaints will only be able to be made up to a year after alleged incidents happen, although this time limit does not apply to complaints of sexual misconduct.
A spokesperson for the Houses of Parliament said “this is not something we can comment on”, but they added that Ms Daby’s complaint was not being handled as an ICGS case, but was being dealt with “under a separate internal process”.
In 2018, Amnesty carried out research that looked into abuse against women politicians and journalists on Twitter.
It found that black women were 84% more likely to be mentioned in abusive or problematic tweets.