A Labour peer has been suspended after his “stalkerish” behaviour was ruled to have breached parliamentary rules on sexual harassment.

Lord Lea of Crondall, a former trade union official, has seen complaints by two women against him upheld by the House of Lords’ commissioner for standards, Lucy Scott-Moncrieff.

The 82-year-old has been ordered to undertake “bespoke training and behaviour change coaching” in the wake of the decision.

The two complaints were made under the House of Lords’ new procedures for dealing with bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct complaints.

These procedures, as well as a new code of conduct for peers, were introduced in April following the Westminster harassment scandal.

For the first time, it was explicitly set out that bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct were breaches of the code.

One woman, known as “AB” in the commissioner’s report, first made a complaint in December 2018 but saw it dismissed at a preliminary assessment as it did not fall within the scope of the old code of conduct.

More from Westminster Harassment

She resubmitted her complaint under the revised code in July 2019 and subsequently described to the commissioner how Lord Lea “behaved inappropriately” on an official visit some years ago.

In October 2018, she then received a package from Lord Lea that included a copy of a photo taken during that visit and a letter that referred to an incident during the visit involving a bottle of champagne and an invitation to meet him.

He also mentioned in the letter that he had a copy of the photo on his piano at home.

The woman said it felt “slightly stalkerish … to receive something like that with the letter after such a long time”.

In his response to the complaint, Lord Lea apologised for what he now understood was “an unwelcome intrusion” and a “serious error of judgement”.

The scene in the House of Lords ahead of the State Opening of Parliament
Image:
The House of Lords introduced new complaints procedures last April

A second complaint, made by a woman referred to as “TU”, saw Lord Lea alleged of using the occasion of her being alone in the room where she worked to “come in repeatedly to strike up conversation with her, getting her to come around the desks of the office to pass him pieces of paper and a book, and to ask her to come for a cup of tea with him”.

Lord Lea was also accused of an earlier incident in which he promised to write the woman a poem referencing a sexually suggestive rhyme on her name he had created about her.

The peer described himself as “deeply sorry”, adding: “I did not detect any unease or nervousness on her part and that – I now know – is my fault because clearly, I can now see that I misread that … I was certainly not making advances, even though that was clearly how it appeared to TU.”

A Labour spokesperson revealed Lord Lea has been suspended from the party’s group in the House of Lords until further notice.

They added: “We appreciate that David has already begun the recommended training and further discussions will be had once that course has been completed to the satisfaction of the commissioner.”

Sky News has attempted to contact Lord Lea for comment.

Leave a Reply