Many of you will have seen and heard the various media reports alleging serious misconduct by Lord Rennard while he was Chief Executive of the Party and pointing to a failure of the Party more widely to adequately deal with complaints made about this behaviour. It appears that we did not fully live up to our political ideals, and I regret that.
I want to assure you that the Party, and I as Chief Executive, are taking these questions very seriously – both as regards the specific allegations that were made, but also about the Party’s procedures for handling complaints of this sort. As a result we have launched two reviews:
Firstly there will be an investigation into the specific allegations under the Party’s disciplinary rules. It is important that everyone has full confidence that the investigation into these specific allegations will be thorough and in-depth. We will therefore establish a panel of five people, including at least three women, representing a cross section of the party. It will specifically include people with strong legal and HR backgrounds and people independent of the individuals involved.
Secondly, given the concerns raised about how such issues have been handled in the past, an immediate review has been established into all of our procedures for dealing with these issues, including a thorough examination of how allegations made in the past have been handled. I fully understand the concern from some that, given the nature of the allegations now emerging, an internal review is insufficient. We are therefore currently looking at ways to strengthen the independence of this review – we will add non-party members to the group and will seek professional advice from external sources.
If any Party member, or former Party member, has any issues arising from the allegations reported, or if you have any other concerns in relation to harassment in the Party, either relating to you or which you have observed, I would strongly encourage you to come forward as part of these reviews.
The Party’s whistle blowing representative, Kate Parminter, has agreed to be a single point of contact for all those wishing to contribute to either review. Kate can be contacted at [email protected] She is the only person with access to this email and all complaints will be dealt with on a strictly confidential basis.
We will not tolerate harassment in this Party. You have my assurance that no one who comes forward will be victimised for raising complaints or coming forward with evidence and we reaffirm not only our commitment to equality provisions but also to taking appropriate disciplinary sanctions against any employee or member who is found, following due process, to have engaged in harassment or impermissible discrimination.
If you have any questions about the processes underway, feel free to contact me at [email protected]
* Tim Gordon is Chief Executive of the Liberal Democrats.