Liam Byrne: MP sorry for bullying staff member as he faces two-day Commons ban

28 April 2022, 12:16 | Updated: 28 April 2022, 12:33

Liam Byrne has apologised
Liam Byrne has apologised. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

A former Labour minister should be suspended from the Commons for bullying a member of staff, a disciplinary panel has said.

A complaint made against Liam Byrne, saying that he bullied a a former constituency office worker, was upheld by Parliament's standards commissioner Kathryn Stone.

The Independent Expert Panel [IEP] said the MP for Birmingham Hodge Hill abused his position of power and ostracised the employee.

He ceased personal contact with him for several months and would not let him get into his Parliamentary IT account.

Mr Byrne said he was "profoundly sorry".

Read more: Tory MP Jamie Wallis charged with failing to stop after a car crash

The IEP, which recommended a two-day suspension, said in a statement that Mr Byrne had tried to "present his actions as a reasonable HR strategy".

But it added: "We disagree. It was bullying.

"He should, as he now accepts, have tackled any misconduct through a proper disciplinary process not by ostracising the complainant."

The panel also said Mr Byrne should undergo training and take action to address the causes of his behaviour and weaknesses in management of his office.

In a statement, the MP, who served as chief secretary to the Treasury under Gordon Brown and left the infamous "there is no money" note to the incoming Tory-Lib Dem Government, said: "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... I did not resolve the dispute correctly with a proper disciplinary process, and having nevertheless extended the Complainant's contract, thereby failed to fulfil 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."

A Labour spokesman said: "The Labour Party fully supports the recommendations of this independent report, including the proposed sanction."

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