Lords to overhaul disciplinary processes after Lord Lester allegations

Lord Lester
Lord Lester

The House of Lords is set to overhaul its disciplinary processes next year to better support complainants in the wake of sexual harassment allegations against Lord Lester of Herne Hill QC, The Times reports.

The 82-year-old peer and former barrister resigned from the Lords last week ahead of a vote on whether he should be suspended until 2022.

An investigation by the Lords privileges and conduct committee found that he harassed women’s rights campaigner Jasvinder Sanghera while they worked together on a parliamentary bill 12 years ago, offering to make her “a Baroness within a year” if she had sex with him.

However, no action was taken against him after peers voted by 101-78 to send the report back to the committee over concerns about the fairness of the investigation. He subsequently resigned before the matter returned to the Lords for a second vote.

Lord McFall of Alcluith, chair of the Lords privileges and conduct committee, insisted that the process was not being scrapped because of criticism from Lord Lester’s allies, rather that he wanted to “explicitly address allegations of bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct”.

He told peers: “These processes were designed to be independent, transparent and credible in this House and beyond.

“In the new year we will be putting forward reforms to these processes to explicitly address allegations of bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct.

“We will be doing this not because we believe the current system is unfair to members. It is not. We are doing so because we need to provide better support for complainants.

“Some members have suggested that we are soon to scrap our processes because we do not think they are fair to members. This is absolutely not the case.”