Tory MP suspended for a day after undermining apology for bullying staff

Tory MP suspended for a day after undermining apology for bullying staff
Daniel Kawczynski said he had ‘no alternative but to apologise’

A Tory MP has been suspended from the House of Commons for one day after undermining an apology he gave for bullying staff.

Daniel Kawczynski, MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham, apologised to the Commons on Wednesday as MPs approved the recommended punishment for him.

He will not be allowed to sit in the chamber on Thursday.

Mr Kawczynski was made to apologise in June for a breach of Parliament’s bullying rules following a complaint by Commons staff.

The Commons Standards Committee recommmended he be suspended after he gave media interviews that appeared to call into doubt the sincerity of that apology.

On 14 June 2021, the same day he apologised, he told an interviewer from BBC Radio Shropshire: “I have no alternative but to apologise because if I don’t apologise then I risk the option of being sanctioned further.”

An investigation by Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Kathryn Stone found he also breached confidentiality rules by identifying the complainants through their job titles.

The standards committee said Mr Kawczynski’s conduct was particularly serious as it risked undermining the credibility of the independent complaints and grievances scheme for Commons staff which has only recently been established.

Speaking in the Commons on Wednesday, Mr Kawczynski acknowledged he had “undermined the sincerity” of his earlier apology and said he accepted this had a “detrimental effect” on the Commons conduct policy and complaints process.

He said: “I’m sorry that my conduct will have had a further harmful effect on the complainants and that it may have diminished public confidence in the process.

”I will be sending a written apology to the parliamentary commissioner for standards, the chair of the Independent Expert Panel, and the original complainants.“

Mr Kawczynski said the bullying incident occured at a time when he was struggling with his mental health due to a family trauma and work-related problems.

He said he appreciated that the committee had taken this into account in their ruling and that he was aware his behaviour could have warranted a longer suspension.

He told MPs: ”I am committed to learning from the mistakes I have made and to work on my personal development, especially in my communication with others in every interaction that I have.

“I hope others will learn from my experience and I’d be happy to share what I have learnt with others.”

Labour MP Thangam Debbonaire, shadow leader of the Commons, said: “It appeared to me that his apology was genuine and sincere.”

She added: “I wish the honourable gentleman well in his process of change.”