Disgraced MP plans to return to Westminster in person following suspension
A disgraced MP is planning to return to Westminster in person following his suspension.
Rob Roberts, the MP for Delyn was suspended from Parliament for 6 weeks for sexual misconduct to a staff member.
He confirmed to the Mirror that he intended to return to Parliament physically despite Conservative sources insisting that the MP, who has lost the party whip, was advised to stay away from the House of Commons.
However Roberts has denied this is is the case, telling the Mirror: “No such request was made of me”.
Commons business papers confirm he is due to appear “physically”, not virtually, in a debate on the Health and Care Bill, and he is listed as a Conservative on the papers despite losing the Tory whip.
Westminster sources also say he was also spotted on the parliamentary estate on Tuesday, though not in the chamber of the Commons .
A spokesperson on behalf of the Conservative Party Whips Office said: “Rob Roberts now sits as an independent MP and his actions are his own.”
‘Lose their job’
Shadow Leader of the Commons Thangam Debbonaire 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.
“The Tory Party has failed to deal with their MP’s behaviour and now we hear they are still propping him up.
“I’ve proposed a change which could sort this. The government could and should grant time for a debate and a vote.
“They cannot and will not say why they don’t believe this loophole should be fixed to ensure Rob Roberts’ constituents get to decide if they want him to lose his job. Yet again, it’s one rule for them and another for everyone else.”
Suspensions of more than 10 days usually trigger a recall petition and potentially a by-election if it is signed by enough voters in the constituency.
However, the panel that looked at the Roberts case was set up only last year, and the legislation covering recall rules was not amended to cover it.
The UK Government has been urged to introduce emergency legislation to close a loophole that is preventing a by-election in the seat.
However, the Leader of the House, Jacob Rees-Mogg said he prefers a non legislative solution, but says he’s asked the chair of the Independent Expert Panel to help find a way forward.
He has previously urged Roberts to stand down, saying it would be “honourable for the member to stand down”, and adding that “it’s frankly ridiculous” an MP could be more harshly sanctioned for misuse of stationery than sexual misconduct.
He told the House the publicity around the matter could have an impact on the willingness of future complaints to come forward, and acknowledged there have been concerns about the “discrepancy” between recall rules and complaints process.