Welsh MP suspended for sexual misconduct claims Tories ‘abandoned me’ when help needed
An MP suspended for sexually harassing a member of staff has claimed the Conservative Party “abandoned me and lied to my face” when he needed help.
Rob Roberts said at one stage he was “balanced on the handrail of Westminster Bridge” but found the “will to step backwards instead of forwards and seek help”.
His remarks came as the House of Commons considered a Privileges Committee report that rebuked the conduct of Boris Johnson’s allies, who were accused of a “co-ordinated” attack on the initial inquiry into the former prime minister’s partygate denials to Parliament.
Mr Roberts said the debate was about “respect” for the House of Commons, its decisions, processes and committees before discussing his own case.
The MP for Delyn in north Wales said he believes the judgment in his case was wrong, but said he had not spoken out due to “respect for this House”.
In May 2021, MPs approved a motion to suspend Mr Roberts from the Commons for six weeks after he made repeated unwanted advances to a member of staff.
He apologised and said the “breach of trust” was “completely improper and should not have happened”.
Mr Roberts did not face the prospect of losing his seat given the way recall laws were drawn up at the time.
In November 2021, he was given his Tory membership back following a 12-week suspension but the Tory whip remains suspended, meaning he continues to sit as an Independent MP in the Commons.
Mr Roberts told the Commons: “I feel somewhat uniquely placed to comment on this subject as I have been investigated, found to have transgressed and been sanctioned by a process of this House, yet out of respect for this place I have remained silent.
“In May 2021 I was found to have broken the House’s sexual misconduct policy following a lengthy investigation and was suspended from the service of this House.
“I believed at the time the judgment was wrong. That remains my belief.
“I’ve been told a number of times that I can’t say anything about the situation which deviates from that which is in the report which I believe to be in error.
“And so out of respect for the House and its processes at significant personal cost, I have said nothing so as not to bring myself, the process or the House into disrepute.
“I feel comfortable only in saying I believe it to be an error and this is relatively self-evident given I appealed the decision in the first place.
“But other than saying the judgment was wrong, I make no further comment on the situation out of respect for the processes of this House.
“When I subsequently received death threats and demands for an explanation I told them nothing out of respect for the processes of this House.”
Mr Roberts suggested he had been shunned by other MPs, before adding: “When my own party abandoned me and lied to my face just at the point I was most in need of their help I said nothing out of respect for the processes of this House.”
Mr Roberts went on: “When at one particularly low point I find myself balanced on the handrail of Westminster Bridge I found the will to step backwards instead of forwards and seek help. A good friend from these benches intervened and I am in his debt.”
Mr Roberts said he has been in counselling for more than a year and praised the support he has received as part of this.
He later thanked members of the Privileges Committee for their service.
The Conservative Party has been approached for comment.
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