A disgraced Member of Parliament who was suspended from Parliament for sexual misconduct will have his Conservative membership reinstated – a decision by Labor described as a “scandal”.
Delyn’s MP, Rob Roberts, was found by an independent panel to have made “repeated unwanted sexual advances” against a member of staff, and was forced to leave the Commons in May for six weeks.
He was also subsequently suspended from the Conservative Party for 12 weeks in August, but will have his membership reinstated on Monday. BBC reported.
A CCHQ spokesman confirmed the move: “Rob Roberts’ membership suspension ends Monday, Nov. 1, after serving a 12-week suspension.”
But the spokesman also stressed that the Conservative whip remains suspended, meaning Mr Roberts will have to continue to sit as an independent in the Commons.
Labor Party President Anneliese Dodds described the move as a “scandal” and said Mr Roberts “should have resigned as a Member of Parliament the moment he was suspended”.
“That he is now set to return to the Conservative Party shows that they have released him from the hook,” she added. “Again, there is one rule for Tory MPs and another for everyone else.”
In May, the Independent Expert Panel (IEP) said Mr Roberts had “made repeated unwanted sexual advances” to one of his staff and used “his position as his employer to put him under pressure to join”.
“The dishonesty demonstrated here was significant,” IEP watchdog chairman Stephen Irwin said at the time.
“It is clear that Mr Roberts’s MP was in a very powerful position as an employer vis – à – vis the reporter. Our conclusion is that the decision on six weeks’ suspension from Parliament’s service was correct and proportionate.”
Earlier this year, Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of the Commons, said it would have been “honorable” for Mr Roberts to have resigned after the party withdrew his whip – due to the “seriousness” of the matter.
He claimed it was “frankly ridiculous” that there are more severe sanctions for “someone who uses a few envelopes incorrectly than for someone involved in sexual misconduct”.
Labor has previously called for Mr Roberts, who returned to parliament this summer after his six-week suspension expired, to refuse to resign as a Member of Parliament.
Following the IEP report in May, Mr Roberts said he acknowledged that he broke the “MP-staff relationship”, which was “completely inappropriate and should not have happened”.
“I apologize for the time being and do so again to the complainant, but also to my colleagues, family and most importantly my constituents,” he added.
Roberts has been contacted for comment.