Vince Cable: I have no intention of bringing Chris Rennard back into a party role

Echoing Tim Farron’s comments when he was running to be Liberal Democrat leader, current Lib Dem leader Vince Cable has said of former Chief Executive Chris Rennard:

He has no role whatever advising me or as a spokesman for the party – and I have no intention of going down that road… I have no intention of bringing him back into a leadership role or a spokesmanship role.

(His deputy, Jo Swinson, has since gone further.)

The background to this is that a Liberal Democrat inquiry into allegations of sexual harassment found them to be “broadly credible” but also concluded that it was “unlikely that it could be established beyond reasonable doubt that Lord Rennard had intended to act in an indecent or sexually inappropriate way”. This would have been the standard of proof required for disciplinary action under the party’s rules at the time, and the police also decided not to pursue a criminal investigation.

The Liberal Democrats have subsequently switched from requiring a criminal standard of proof to a civil standard of proof in such cases, and Chris Rennard’s election to the party’s Federal Executive (the Federal Board’s predecessor) as a representative of the Lib Dem peers lasted only a short period of time in the face of widespread protests within the party.

Note: the party is currently consulting party members over further reforms to the disciplinary processes.


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