Anger As Disgraced MP Suspended For Sexual Harassment Still Receives Support From Party
Former Conservative MP Rob Roberts has reportedly received Policy Research Unit (PRU) support despite being suspended for sexual harassment.
Earlier this year, Roberts, Member of Parliament for Delyn in North Wales, was suspended for 6 weeks after being found to have abused his position of power, breaching parliament’s sexual harassment policy.
Roberts, who now stands as an Independent, dodged a by-election that would see the public vote for a vacant position, thanks to a loophole. On top of this, he is receiving support from a group designed for Tory MPs, leaving many outraged.
The connection between PRU and Roberts was revealed after he issued a statement on the COVID-19 crisis that is near-identical to that used by Conservative MPs. Insider then discovered, through a Parliamentary aide, that the letters follow the format prepared by the PRU, which ‘provides briefing, research, correspondence and related support’ to Tory MPs.
The letter sent to his constituents read:
The Covid-19 outbreak has been one of the most significant and consequential periods of our lifetimes. It has led to a tragic loss of life in this country and around the world and gave rise to previously unthinkable restrictions to our way of life.
This wording is extremely similar to that of two Conservative MPs, Insider reports.
Despite working almost exclusively with Tory politicians, PRU says it is ‘independent of any political party and does not engage in, or assist with, party political activities’. To subscribe to PRU, members of parliament pay £3,049 a year from taxpayer-funded parliamentary expense accounts.
Roberts has previously apologised for his behaviour, describing it as a ‘breach of trust’ that was ‘completely improper and should not have happened.’ An Independent Expert Panel also ruled he had abused his position. Nonetheless, he denied any accusations of ‘repeated and unwanted sexual advances’.
At the time of the initial incident, Jacob Rees-Mogg said it would be ‘honourable for a member to stand down.’
Additionally, Thangam Debbonaire, shadow leader of the Commons, said:
Most people found to have sexually harassed their staff like Rob Roberts has been, would expect to lose their job. Because of a procedural anomaly, Rob Roberts’ constituents are not able to decide whether or not they want him to represent them anymore.
Roberts has yet to comment on his continued support from PRU. The Conservative Party declined to respond.
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