As the rumour mill on this is picking up, here’s the party’s press statement in full:
A Liberal Democrat spokesperson said: “Paul Holmes has been found guilty of bullying Julia Cambridge.
“A disciplinary panel led by a barrister concluded his behaviour was totally unacceptable.
“Mr Holmes has been given a formal reprimand for his behaviour.
“In addition, Chesterfield Liberal Democrats have been suspended by the party while an investigation is carried out.
“Julia is a strong and resilient candidate and we have full confidence in her ability to beat Labour in Chesterfield.”
Given Paul’s many friends and fans in the party, this is likely to be controversial, but the unusual step of suspending a local party also shows the seriousness of the allegations involved.
One less controversial aspect is how, yet again, the party’s processes have taken far too long to work through. Such slow systems are not fair to any of the sides involved, and once again raise the question of reform of the English Party, whose systems are central to that.
The English Party is due to adopt a set of new rules at a special meeting this weekend (a process which predates the Chesterfield ruling). Whether or not they are sufficient is – given the practical demands on people’s time – more a question for after the general election than before, but it will be a very important question to return too.
UPDATE: Part of the planned rules changes – a constitutional amendment – is being postponed from this weekend until June due to an issue over how much notice people have been given. However, the proposed new membership rules are unaffected by this gremlin.