Former Tameside MP suspended from House of Lords for bullying security guard

A veteran Labor peer and former Tameside MP has been suspended from the House of Lords for a week after he was found to have bullied a member of security staff. The sanction against Tom Pendry was imposed with immediate effect after the upper chamber approved a report by the Conduct Committee.

Former Labor MP Lord Pendry represented the Stalybridge and Hyde constituency for 31 years. The Lords’ watchdog rejected an appeal by the 87-year-old and backed the findings of the standards commissioner who, following an investigation, upheld the complaint that the peer had breached the code of conduct with his behaviour.

Lord Pendry was found to have been ‘verbally aggressive’ and exhibited ‘intimidating behaviour’ to the security guard, who had challenged an unescorted guest in Parliament last July.

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The guard, who served in the Army, described being left ‘physically shaken and unnerved’ after the ‘angry’ peer challenged them and allegedly grabbed their radio during ‘a little bit of a tussle’.

Lord Pendry conceded he had ‘forcibly ticked off’ the guard, but noted staff were ‘flexing their muscles’ against politicians in a manner he had not seen in his 50 years in Parliament.

Speaking in the Lords, chairwoman of the Conduct Committee, Baroness Manningham-Buller said: “The report upholds the findings of the commissioner for standards that Lord Pendry breached the code of conduct by bullying a member of staff in the parliamentary security department.

“The committee considered an appeal by Lord Pendry against this finding but unanimously dismissed it. The report recommends that Lord Pendry be suspended from the service of this House for a period of one week.

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The House of Lords

“The committee agreed with the commissioner that the sentence of suspension was proportionate and necessary in response to Lord Pendry’s conduct and the effect it had on the complainant.”

In making his finding, barrister Akbar Khan, one of the Lords’ standards commissioners, said he had to take into account the aggravating factor that Lord Pendry ‘continues to believe that his actions were proportionate and justified, along with his refusal to acknowledge the power imbalance that existed between him and a member of the House staff’.

“In so doing, I find he has shown little insight or contrition in respect of his conduct or its impact on the complainant,” he added.

The guard told Mr Khan they had been ‘shocked and upset’ by the altercation. They said they suffer anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of their time in the Army, as well as depression, and the incident ‘had set them back a lot, just as they were getting on top of managing it all’.

Responding to his suspension, Lord Pendry told the PA news agency: “This is a travesty of justice. I am not a bully and I object to that being a stain on my character.” He added: “The conduct system is not fit for the purpose it was designed and should be overhauled.

“I am deeply unhappy with the way the investigation was conducted.” Lord Pendry was an MP for Stalybridge and Hyde in Greater Manchester for 31 years before being made a Labor peer in 2001. He became a non-affiliated member following the publication of the committee’s report.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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