Neil Parish MP suspended over allegations of viewing pornography in Commons

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Neil Parish MP suspended over allegations of viewing pornography in Commons

The MP accused of watching pornography in the Commons is Conservative Neil Parish.

A spokesman for the chief whip said: “Having spoken to the chief whip this afternoon, Neil Parish MP is reporting himself to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.

“Mr Parish has been suspended from the Conservative Whip pending the outcome of that investigation.”

Two female Conservative MPs made the allegation against Mr Parish during a meeting of women Tory backbench MPs on Tuesday evening, but the whips office had not publicly named him.

The women told Tory chief whip, Chris Heaton-Harris, they had witnessed the MP watching porn on his phone in the Commons chamber and in a committee meeting.

One MP at the meeting said Mr Heaton-Harris looked “horrified” and asked for the man’s identity.

Around 50 to 60 female Tory MPs are said to have been present at the meeting.

Mr Parish is now understood to be the focus of two investigations – one by the parliamentary commissioner Kathryn Stone after he referred himself to her today, and another by the Independent Complaints and Grievances Scheme (ICGS), which one of the female MP witnesses referred him to.

Apart from having the audacity to be watching porn in public, at work, on his mobile, in front of people, there is something quite perverse for him to be sitting in the heart of Britain’s democratic home, the house of commons, and getting off on porn.

There are 56 other MPs who are being investigated after accusations of sexual misconduct.

The fact that almost 10 per cent of the legislature is under investigation for sexual misconduct is shameful, and that figure only represents those under investigation at this moment in time. It is believed that many more incidents go unreported or are brushed under the carpet.

Three Tory ministers and two shadow cabinet members face allegations of sexual misconduct. They are among 56 MPs who have been referred to the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme

There was outrage when an unnamed Conservative MP was arrested and bailed for an allegation of rape was not suspended by the Party, and concern for the message that it sent to victims everywhere.

The MPs have not been named, and at least one of the complaints made to the ICGS is believed to relate to a criminal offense.

This comes just over a week after Tory MP Imran Ahmad Khan submitted his resignation after being convicted of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy in 2008. The resigned MP is appealing against the conviction.

Two former Labour staff were asked to sign confidentiality agreements after making complaints of sexual harassment about a senior official.

Documents show the women had reported the party official for “inappropriate” and “possessive” behaviour.

Earlier this month, another Tory MP, David Warburton, was also accused of a series of sexual harassment and cocaine use allegations that will be assessed by the ICGS, Warburton denied the allegations and insisted he has “enormous amounts of defense,” the Guardian mentioned.

According to the website, “The FDA union, which represents civil servants, said it was time to “look again” at the employment relationship between MPs and their staff, while Labour MP Jess Phillips, the shadow minister for domestic violence and safeguarding, has urged the Speaker of the Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, to convene a panel of MPs and experts to look at the “power imbalance” in parliament.”

House of Commons authorities should also bring in measures to prevent MPs under criminal investigation for sexual offences from attending the Parliamentary estate. This would be expected in any other workplace, but is necessary even more so for MPs whose power and access to could create a serious safeguarding issue.

A union representing senior civil servants said more was needed to be done to stamp out harassment in parliament.

FDA general secretary Dave Penman said: “Whilst some of the procedures for raising complaints have improved, the fundamental balance of power between MPs and the staff they employ has not.

“Where that exists it will inevitably be exploited, either by those who do not have the skills to manage staff effectively, or those with more malevolent intent.

“It can come as no surprise therefore that if the circumstances that allowed bullying and harassment to flourish have not changed fundamentally, what we are seeing is this number of complaints being raised now that we at least have an independent mechanism for dealing with them.

“Parliamentary authorities need to address the fundamental causes of bullying and harassment, rather than simply rely on an enforcement mechanism that only protects those who feel able to raise complaints.”

Mr Penman said that meant “looking again at the employment relationship between MPs and the staff”, with a view to reforming the model of having 650 individual employers.

He said authorities should instead consider establishing a new employment model that “will help protect staff whilst maintaining the level of service that MPs need to support their vital work”.

A government spokesperson said: “We take all allegations of this nature incredibly seriously and would encourage anyone with any allegations to come forward to the relevant authorities.”

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