“I am extremely grateful to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards and to the Independent Expert Panel for their thorough investigation and careful judgement. “I am very lucky to work with an amazing, happy team of people, who together have almost 40 years of combined service to my constituents in our Westminster and Hodge Hill offices where we’re determined to provide the best possible service and voice to what is the most income deprived constituency in England. “However, two years ago at the beginning of lockdown, following a workplace dispute that led me to send the complainant home, as the Panel notes in para 3.24, I did not resolve the dispute correctly with a proper disciplinary process, and having nevertheless extended the Complainant’s contract, thereby failed to fulfill my obligations as an employer and Parliament’s Behaviour Code. “This constituted an ostracism which was a breach of Parliament’s Behaviour Code which I strongly support, and caused distress for which I am profoundly sorry. I have apologised in full to the individual concerned.” “I’m incredibly grateful to the Panel for recognising the genuine remorse I felt about the impact on the individual concerned, the steps I have already taken to ensure this never happens again along with the work still to do, and for concluding that I did not deliberately act to delay the investigation. This has been a valuable lesson for me and one I am determined to learn as me and my team seek to offer the best possible service and voice for the residents of Hodge Hill.” Notes to editors Para 3.27 of the IEP report notes, “We considered the Commissioner’s conclusion that the respondent’s failure to co-operate fully during periods of the investigation and his decision to submit additional evidence in hard copy rather than electronically was a significant aggravating factor because his behaviour had delayed the outcome for the complainant. However, we balanced this view against the concerns about the investigation process expressed by both the complainant and respondent. There were clearly delays in the investigation process, however our view was that they were not as a result of a deliberate strategy by the respondent. We therefore disagreed with the Commissioner that this was a significant aggravating factor in this case.” Para 3.38 of the report notes: “We considered that the following mitigating factors were relevant to this case: Genuine remorse – The respondent has expressed remorse and has reflected on why it was wrong to exclude the complainant. He has expressed a willingness to apologise to the complainant for his actions and the hurt and distress they caused him. We accepted his explanation for not offering an apology to the complainant earlier, because he was concerned about its possible impact on other ongoing processes. However, we were not convinced that he fully understood the extent of his wrongdoing as he implied that his lack of understanding of the term “ostracization” within the Bullying and Harassment Policy, and the complainant’s behaviour, somehow excused his actions. We were therefore only able to give limited weight to this mitigating factor. Steps taken to address the behaviour – The respondent indicated that he would be willing to undertake appropriate training, and informed us that he had overhauled the contract structure of all members of his team to ensure that they have clear line management. He has also informed us that he began discussions with a consultant with a view to undertaking an audit of his office culture and make recommendations on how to continue to improve the management of his team.
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