Birmingham MP Liam Byrne to be suspended from Commons for two days after breaching bullying policy

Birmingham MP and former Labour minister Liam Byrne is facing a two day suspension from the House of Commons over bullying.

The House's Independent Expert Panel recommended the suspension after the the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards upheld two allegations that he bullied a former staff member.

Kathryn Stone, after investigating claims against him, concluded that Mr Byrne had "ostracized the complainant between March and July 2020".

"The ostracization followed a dispute between Mr Byrne and the complainant at the former’s constituency office, that had led him to send the complainant home," the Independent Expert Panel said in a statement.

The sub-panel considering what sanction the MP should face said he "sought to present his actions as a reasonable HR strategy in response to this incident. We disagree. It was bullying."

The panel said Mr Byrne's suspension should come with the condition that he makes a written apology to the complainant and undertakes training to "address the causes of his behaviour and weaknesses in the management of his office".

Mr Byrne did not appeal the decision.

Credit: PA Images

Mr Byrne said he had apologised to the complainant in his case and the situation had been a “valuable lesson for me and one I am determined to learn”.

In a statement he said: “I am extremely grateful to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards and to the Independent Expert Panel for their thorough investigation and careful judgement.

“I am very lucky to work with an amazing, happy team of people, who together have almost 40 years of combined service to my constituents in our Westminster and Hodge Hill offices where we’re determined to provide the best possible service and voice to what is the most income-deprived constituency in England.

“However, two years ago at the beginning of lockdown, following a workplace dispute that led me to send the complainant home… I did not resolve the dispute correctly with a proper disciplinary process, and having nevertheless extended the complainant’s contract, thereby failed to fulfil my obligations as an employer and Parliament’s Behaviour Code.

“This constituted an ostracism which was a breach of Parliament’s Behaviour Code which I strongly support, and caused distress for which I am profoundly sorry. I have apologised in full to the individual concerned.

“I’m incredibly grateful to the panel for recognising the genuine remorse I felt about the impact on the individual concerned, the steps I have already taken to ensure this never happens again along with the work still to do, and for concluding that I did not deliberately act to delay the investigation.

“This has been a valuable lesson for me and one I am determined to learn as me and my team seek to offer the best possible service and voice for the residents of Hodge Hill.”

Labour supported the proposed two-day suspension for Liam Byrne.

A party spokesman said: “The Labour Party fully supports the recommendations of this independent report, including the proposed sanction.”