Political

Appalling and embarrassing from some Liberal Democrat peers

Two female peers have condemned fellow Lords members for “misogynistic, victim-blaming” attitudes after they cast doubt on the claims of a woman found to have been sexually harassed by a Lib Dem peer [Lord Anthony Lester], because she was friendly to him on later occasions…

Meral Hussein-Ece, a Lib Dem peer, said she became “more and more incredulous and angry” as she listened to the debate, which she said appeared to be a concerted effort by Lester’s friends in the Lords to stop a suspension imposed by the privileges and conduct committee. [The Guardian]

Those peers who angered her, alas, including a chunk of Liberal Democrat peers:

Other peers spoke to say they had known Lester, 82, for many years and could not believe he would act in such a way. The average age of speakers in the debate was 75.

A Lib Dem peer, Tom McNally, also noted the warm comments Sanghera had written in the book, saying: “It seems strange, but never mind.​” He also expressed doubt over whether a “confident and determined campaigner” like her would be intimidated by a peer.

Another Lib Dem, Dick Taverne, said Sanghera’s behaviour was such that if her evidence to the inquiry had been cross-examined – the key demand of Lester and Pannick – then it was likely “sufficient doubts would have been raised for the charge to be dismissed”.

This prompted shouts of, “Shame on you!” from Jones and Hussein-Ece.

What is more:

In addition, it is worth noting that Lord Lester had previously supported these disciplinary rules, including over how evidence is handled.

Former Liberal Democrat special advisor Sean Kemp puts it well:
Sean Kemp tweet saying how depressing the behaviour of some Lib Dem peers is in the Anthony Lester case
And thankfully Vince Cable has added:

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7 responses to “Appalling and embarrassing from some Liberal Democrat peers”

  1. I think we have to be careful not to descend into McCarthyism and a witch-hunt. If the rules allow for a debate and vote on the suspension then Peers should be free to put the defence and the errors as they see them in the evidence and the procedure.

    • Agreed. We do not want to get into a situation where the court of public opinion mobilises online and diagnoses guilt based on the nature of an allegation. It worries me when I see comments from people who have I suspect not sat through the discussions saying with utter certainty that a decision is right or wrong.

  2. Well done Mark, in highlighting this. For credibility in politics, it is vital that dubious behaviour, or even mere differences of opinion, within the Party, are not just airbrushed away.

  3. Yes. Will they never learn that sometimes it’s the most ‘respectable’ people (‘I’ve known him all my life, he’d never do a thing like this’) who behave appallingly when it comes to sexual matters?

    • Agreed. We had a Tory Councillor arrested for attempted murder after an attack on his wife with a mallet and the judge (now retired) spoke of his ‘impeccable character,’ described the difficult tensions in the house (victim blamed) and gave him 3 years… unbelievable.

  4. If this House has procedures which allow discipline matters to be talked out, changes are needed. Lib Dems have long believed that this House, as well as the Commons, should be continually modernised and made subject to election and de-selection by the people. Historical procedures are subject to great misuse.

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