Bullying and harassment ‘allowed to thrive’ in the Commons

The House of Commons has allowed a culture to develop of “deference, subservience, acquiescence and silence” in which the bullying and harassment of staff has been able to thrive, an official report has found.

Dame Laura Cox QC, who was appointed by the House authorities to investigate claims of bullying and harassment of staff, said there were “urgent and serious problems” in the procedures for dealing with such issues.

However, in a damning report she said it was “difficult to envisage” how solutions could be delivered under the current senior House administration.

“Amongst current and former staff alike there is an obvious pride and affection for the House and its status. Working there is, for many, a privilege – whether as a member of House staff or as an elected Member of Parliament – and there is an expectation of loyalty to the institution they serve,” she said.

“But that sense of loyalty has been tested to breaking point by a culture, cascading from the top down, of deference, subservience, acquiescence and silence, in which bullying, harassment and sexual harassment have been able to thrive and have long been tolerated and concealed.

“This is not to demonise the entire institution, but unacceptable behaviour by some, whether elected Members or House staff, inflicts damage on everyone and undermines the legitimacy and authority of the House of Commons.  Parliament is diminished.”

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