• Sunday, June 23, 2024

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Tory peer resigns whip after code of conduct breach report

Lord Kulveer Ranger has resigned the government whip

Lord Kulveer Ranger

By: Pramod Thomas

PARLIAMENT’s conduct committee on Friday (17) released its report into the conduct of British Sikh peer Lord Kulveer Ranger and found him in breach of the code of conduct on bullying and harassment following a drunken incident in the House of Lords.

The 49-year-old parliamentarian, who has apologised for his conduct, will be suspended for three weeks and also be banned from access to the bars in Parliament for a period of 12 months after the committee said it was “struck by the seriousness of the incident”.

The Tory peer resigned the government whip following the report.

A statement from the whip’s office said: “Lord Ranger has resigned the government whip and apologised for his actions, which were an unacceptable breach of the standards of the House, and of parliament.

“The committee has recommended a sanction, which should be respected.”

The report entitled ‘The conduct of Lord Ranger of Northwood’ goes on to detail how two complainants, both members of the parliamentary community, were accosted with inappropriate comments and invasion of their personal space in a way they found threatening.

Their report will now be tabled before the Lords to agree its findings of the sanction after the House reconvenes early next month.

“We recommend that Lord Ranger of Northwood be suspended from the service of the House for three weeks,” concludes the report by the cross-party conduct committee.

“We further recommend that Lord Ranger of Northwood be denied access to bars in the House of Lords for a period of 12 months, and that in other Lords catering venues that serve both alcohol and food he be denied service of alcohol for the same period. We invite the Commons authorities to consider whether a similar response would be appropriate with regard to the facilities administered by that House,” it notes.

The committee’s report follows findings by the House of Lords commissioner for standards, Martin Jelley, who concluded Ranger had breached paragraph 19 of the code of conduct applying to bullying and harassment.

He, however, recommended a shorter one-week suspension taking Lord Ranger’s apology and “out of character” nature of the conduct into account, which the committee felt was not sufficient given the “aggravating factors” of Ranger’s alcohol intake and the power imbalance between him and the complainants.

“I am deeply mortified at the descriptions of my behaviour. I must say I have little recollection of the incident but that is in no way to diminish how you both have described my actions or how they made you feel,” reads Ranger’s letter of “sincere” apology to the complainants, also published alongside the committee’s report.

“Throughout my life I have never seen it fit to behave in an aggressive or rude manner. I can only add that I have had a variety of very concerning health issues for both my children and wife during December and January that have been very stressful and taken a significant toll on my physical capacity and mental health, and may have had some bearing on my wholly uncharacteristic outburst and responses to your questions, for which again I am extremely sorry,” he adds.

The committee said Ranger did not appeal against either the commissioner’s findings or the recommended sanction and instead wrote a further letter of apology to the Conduct Committee, enclosing two character references.

The complainants, referred to only as JK and LM, submitted complaints about Ranger’s behaviour in February following the incident on January 17.

They said Ranger had approached them without invitation, when they were in Strangers’ Bar in the Lords. While they did not know him, they had attempted to engage him in conversation. But he appeared “very drunk” and displayed unprovoked “aggressive behaviour by shouting and swearing at them and invading their personal space”. Ranger was then encouraged to leave the bar by others who were present.

London-born Kulveer Ranger took his seat in the House of Lords as a Tory peer last year among the group of politicians recommended on former prime minister Boris Johnson’s list of life peerages.

He has previously served as Johnson’s director for transport policy when he was the mayor of London between 2008 and 2016.

(PTI)

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