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.

4 responses to “Vince Cable: I have no intention of bringing Chris Rennard back into a party role”

  1. This whole Saga rears it’s ugly head again (SIGH)
    I Strongly advocate Chris being given a role in the party, He is a hard working and honourable man his work for the party has been for the interests of the party always and i’m sure there are a fair number of councillors and even mp’s who will know Chris for his dedicated service.

    Sir Vince is WRONG to advocate not bringing back a talented and hard working peer like Chris. For Clarity here mark i also think it should be pointed out that Chris was CLEARED by the inquiry and found that he had not crossed the criminal threshold.

    And this faf about how Chris did not apologise like Alexander Webster QC Suggested was on Legal Advice from his then legal Adviser and Lib Dem Peer Lord Carlisle QC. He then did apologise in what can only be described as a Generous apology.

    I Find it very ANTI liberal for Lord Rennard to be arbitrarily punished like this and the loss is to the party not Chris

  2. From what I read I found Rennard’s misdemeanors to have been more fumbling of an inept lecher than sexual harassment. He was in a position that put him in contact with young women activists looking for a parliamentary seat. It is unkind to give any older, physically unattractive man or woman power over the careers of the young, attractive and ambitious. Lines can get blurred in such situations. While one person may welcome the blurring of the lines, another may be distressed by it. And there is no telling.
    I was once asked to call on my lecturer who was famous in his field, but otherwise a grey, mousy middle aged man. He needed to clarify a couple of things in my essay before marking it. I found him seated behind a huge desk pinned against a big window, in full view of the shoppers in the street below and back-lit by the afternoon sun so that only his shadow could be seen from the chair by the door where I was invited to sit. Somewhat disconcerted I thought the man must be a weirdo. Later I found out that my lecturer had had a number of bad experiences with ambitious students who had sought his “help” with their academic careers. Was the furniture arranged to protect him from predatory students or his own temptations? Probably both.

  3. Vince is totally right in this.
    The mere fact that Chris allowed the issue to fester and become a problem, when he could have accepted what he had done and spoken to the women concerned individually, displays a stupendous lack of judgement.
    And this is the whole justification for exposing the wrong-doings of anyone in public life, where they have to make judgements on behalf of others on policy decisions or whatever. Such inappropriate behaviour in private displays a lack of judgement, which suggests an inability to exercise responsible judgement in other scenarios, ie the very thing that a role with power and responsibility demands.
    An ordinary person behaving inappropriately is crass, but for someone in a position of power or responsibility to take liberties with a subordinate then they have no further place in any role within the Party.
    We have lost far too many excellent, hard-working members of the Party over the Rennard debacle, let’s not lose any more.!

  4. I agree with Jon Proctor. We are wasting an opportunity to use Chris Rennard’s talents.
    And why? Because we’re too timid to face critics down??

    As I understand it, internal and police enquiries found no case to answer. Why cannot the party accept that? If new evidence of misdemeanours come to light, and are proven, against anyone, then yes, chuck the book at them and throw away the key.

    Until then, my recollection is that we still live in a country of presumed innocence before proven guilty. Or does the party I’m currently a member of think trial and guilt by rumour is the approach to take?

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