POLITICS
07/12/2020 14:24 GMT | Updated 07/12/2020 14:50 GMT

Lord Maginnis Suspended From Lords For 18 Months For Homophobia And Bullying

Lord Maginnis abused a parliamentary security officer, then called an MP who complained about it "queer" in an interview with HuffPost UK.

PA
Lord Maginnis

A peer who shouted abuse at parliamentary security staff and called an MP who complained about it a “queer” has been suspended from parliament for at least 18 months.

On Monday, 408 peers backed the Lords conduct committee’s recommendation of an 18-month suspension for Lord Ken Maginnis for bullying and harassment, which included the use of homophobic language.

Maginnis, former archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, and Lord Kilclooney, who was recently accused of being racist about Kamala Harris, were among the 24 peers who voted against suspension.

Independent Ulster unionist Maginnis, who sat as the UUP MP between 1983 and 2001, faces indefinite suspension until he engages with behaviour change training.

But the 82 year-old told BBC News he would not take part in any training, describing it as a “mockery”, sparking calls for him to become the first peer in history to be expelled from the Lords permanently.

The committee last week found that Maginnis had breached the Lords code of conduct by bullying both a security officer and SNP MP Hannah Bardell during an incident at one of parliament’s security gates when the peer was stopped for not having his entry pass.

Bardell later raised the incident in the Commons, describing it as “one of the worst cases of abuse of security staff I have seen”.

Speaking to HuffPost UK afterwards, Maginnis made homophobic remarks about Bardell, accusing her of seeking “cheap publicity” and trying to “score a few points” because he is opposed to gay marriage. 

“Queers like Ms Bardell don’t particularly annoy me,” he added.

Lord Maginnis also described the security officer, Christian Bombolo, as “a little git” and a “jobsworth”, which the staff member said made him feel “humiliated and worthless”.

The committee found Maginnis’s comments about Bardell also breached the code of conduct because they “met the criteria for harassment associated with the protected characteristic of sexual orientation”. 

The issue concerned in this case is not Lord Maginnis’s beliefs but his behaviourLord Mance, chair of the conduct committee

Maginnis was also found guilty of harassing Labour MP Luke Pollard in a row following a meeting of the armed forces all party parliamentary group, where the peer accused Pollard of being the “worst chairman he had ever seen”.

Later in the evening Lord Maginnis sent an email to James Gray MP, the actual chair of the APPG, copied to a number of other parliamentarians, with the subject heading “Discrimination by Homos”. 

In these emails he complained to Gray that Pollard had “deliberately not called” him despite acknowledging his indication of wishing to ask a question. 

He described his exchange with Pollard after the meeting as one in which the MP had “threatened me with his ‘boyfriend’”.

Lord Maginnis was also found guilty of harassing Labour MP Toby Perkins during another row over the incident in which the peer used homophobic language.

On Monday, Lord Mance said the conduct committee he chairs had doubled the Lords standards commissioner’s initial recommendation of a nine month suspension to 18 months because Maginnis showed a “complete lack of remorse”.

Lord Mance told peers before the vote: “We identified on Lord Maginnis’s part both an absence of any remorse and a complete lack of insight into the impact of his behaviour on in particular the victims of such behaviour.

“Lord Maginnis portrayed himself before us as a victim of a conspiracy by people who disapproved of his views and insisted that all his conduct had been provoked.

“He continued to refer to the claimants in a disobliging and sometimes offensive manner and he said that he was not in fact minded to accept either any training course or suspension.”

Lord Mance added: “The issue concerned in this case is not Lord Maginnis’s beliefs but his behaviour.

“Lord Maginnisis entitled to hold the beliefs that he does and to express them freely in parliament or outside.

“But at the same time he is required to treat others with courtesy and respect and not to engage in what were here of repeated incidents of bullying and/or harassing misconduct.”

On Friday, Bardell wrote to the committee and the Lords commissioner for standards Lucy Scott-Moncrieff to ask what happens if Maginnis refuses to take behaviour change training.

She highlighted the BBC interview in which he “categorically stated he would not be undertaking any course of coaching” and described it as a “mockery”.

“I’m sure others who have suffered at the hands of this man are keen to understand how long Lord Maginnis will be afforded to refuse the help he needs before a line is drawn and he is expelled from the House of Lords completely,” Bardell said.

“I believe it’s very important that I and the other complainers have a clear sense of what will happen after Monday and we are not left hanging for 18 months while Lord Maginnis continues to refuse any help.” 

Here is a list of the 24 peers who voted against Maginnis’s suspension:

  • Lord Balfe (Conservative - Life peer)
  • Lord Bhatia (Non-affiliated - Life peer)
  • Baroness Buscombe (Conservative - Life peer)
  • Lord Carey of Clifton (Crossbench - Life peer)
  • Lord Cavendish of Furness (Conservative - Life peer)
  • Baroness Eaton (Conservative - Life peer)
  • Lord Framlingham (Conservative - Life peer)
  • Lord Fraser of Corriegarth (Conservative - Life peer)
  • Lord James of Blackheath (Conservative - Life peer)
  • Lord Jordan (Labour - Life peer)
  • Lord Kilclooney (Crossbench - Life peer)
  • Lord Leitch (Labour - Life peer)
  • Lord Maginnis of Drumglass (Independent Ulster Unionist - Life peer)
  • Lord Marlesford (Conservative - Life peer)
  • Lord McCrea of Magherafelt and Cookstown (Democratic Unionist Party - Life peer)
  • Lord Moore of Etchingham (Non-affiliated - Life peer)
  • Lord Morrow (Democratic Unionist Party - Life peer)
  • Lord Rana (Conservative - Life peer)
  • The Earl of Sandwich (Crossbench - Excepted Hereditary)
  • Lord Sheikh (Conservative - Life peer)
  • Lord Stone of Blackheath (Non-affiliated - Life peer)
  • Lord Suri (Conservative - Life peer)
  • Lord Taylor of Warwick (Non-affiliated - Life peer)
  • Lord Young of Graffham (Conservative - Life peer)