Lord Rennard: further reports and a new statement

Radio 4 ran a piece about the allegations against Chris Rennard today which covered a wide range of the questions raised so far. You can listen to it here. (Update – also written up by the BBC here.)

A spokesperson for Lord Rennard also issued a statement today, which says:

Lord Rennard refutes these allegations. He will co-operate with any properly constituted inquiry.

He has been notified of an internal investigatory panel within the Party. The matter must now be regarded as sub judice pending its proceedings and no further statement will be issued in the interim.

He expects others to respect the sub judice principle, and he notes that under the party rules concerned it is for any case made against him to be proved by evidence to the requisite standard. He denies impropriety.

He would reiterate that in 27 years of working for the Liberal Democrats he received no complaint or allegation about his behaviour.

Nor is he aware of any personal complaints being made in the three and a half years since he stood down as chief executive until last week.

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  • Eduardo Reyes 26th Feb '13 - 6:45pm

    Does an internal investigation really make the issue sub judice? I’m unclear from this statement whether Chris Regards internal inquiries as “properly constituted”, and what the relationship is between that call and anyone’s ability to comment.

    Perhaps a lawyer reading this could clarify.

  • Alison Smith 26th Feb '13 - 7:45pm

    I agree with Eduardo. Very confusing. Sub judice usually applies when a court case is pending.

  • The sub judice rule applies to employment tribunals as well as court proceedings. I don’t know whether the inquiry that the party has set up into the allegations will technically qualify as a tribunal or not, but surely it will be a formal affair and therefore along those lines.

    Sub judice doesn’t mean no one can talk about it at all, just that the discussion is limited to factual accounts of the proceedings so that the hearing isn’t prejudiced by rumour, gossip and general trial by media circus.

  • Catherine – Interesting, thanks for that. Can an employer’s disciplinary hearing count as a Tribunal?? Seems strange to me?

  • Usually it is used to refer to criminal trials (where a jury could be prejudiced). With Civil trials there is less of a risk as Judges are presumed to be able to just consider the evidence before them so you can comment as you want.

    Of course Civil trials are rarely interesting enough to attract much attention but an example might be the comments made on this very site during the Phil Woolas election petition trial!

    So I’m not sure it really has much relevance to a party disciplinary matter which the Tribunal will judge on the evidence before them. I suppose the party could discipline members who acted to prejudice that process – I don’t think they have much sway over the media.

  • I have no idea whether there is any truth to these allegations, though I have worked with Lord renard and at least one of the complainants. What I do know is that rushing to judgement, one way or the other is foolish in the extreme.

    I have this novel idea that a person is innocent until proved guilty. Some people in our party would do well to remember it. We should now all wait till the enquiry and any police enquiries are finished and we have a decision about whether there was impropriety or not and if there is a criminal case to answer or not. Only then will it be possible to make a fair judgement.

    As for the press, one need look no further for the need for statutory regulation a le Levenson.

  • ‘In law, sub judice, Latin for “under judgment”, means that a particular case or matter is under trial or being considered by a judge or court. ‘

  • Andrew Suffield 26th Feb '13 - 11:38pm

    The sub judice rule

    He said principle, not rule. The principle behind the rule is very simple: prejudicial media circuses make investigations harder and less effective, regardless of whether the investigation is internal or with the full force of the law. Everybody will get the best result from the investigation if people stick to this principle. People who ignore it are actively impeding the investigation.

    The rule follows by simple extension: actively impeding court proceedings is illegal. It’s legal to impede an internal investigation – but one has to question the motives of anybody who does so.

  • Tony Dawson 27th Feb '13 - 7:57am

    I think this is just a way of providing justification, in the author/subject’s view, of a determination to make no further comment in advance of the inquiry. As Hywel has said, there is nothing to stop Chris Rennard or anyone else from saying as much or as little as they like. One would hope, however, that sensible people would confine themselves to commenting on what they actually know about.

  • It is really sad to witness the willingness of parliamentarians to speak to a hostile press and prolong and inflame the situation. . The fantastic number of helpers from all over the country who have gone to Eastleigh deserve better.

  • @Phyllis
    It depends on the format of the disciplinary hearing – an internal hearing wouldn’t be considered a tribunal, but a hearing in which an external body is called in to adjudicate the case usually would qualify. I know the party has called in an external group (a charity I think) which specialises in cases of alleged misconduct in the workplace, but I don’t know if they’re actually adjudicating the case or just overseeing the procedure.

    Though as @Andrew Suffield rightly points out, whatever the final format of the inquiry the sub judice principle is to stop media circuses from prejudicing the outcome.

    Yes, quite.

  • Eduardo Reyes 27th Feb '13 - 12:51pm

    I don’t think there’s any evidence that someone who thinks the allegations, and the people alleging them, have a credible air are less likely to feel inspired to help in Eastleigh.

    And in general if we have been turning a blind eye to certain types of boorish behaviour, might we not now attract back to activism some of the people who are put off by that?

    Tim Farron comments I think put some attractive self-knowledge on show. He combines that with being a great campaigner.

  • Stuart Mitchell 27th Feb '13 - 7:20pm

    “He expects others to respect the sub judice principle”

    Fine, but he should try conveying that message to his friends Lord Stoneham and Baroness Williams :-


  • Simon Banks 2nd Mar '13 - 1:25pm

    Lord Rennard does not “refute” the allegations. He maywell in due course do so, but right now he’s rebutting them (strongly denying them, not proving beyond the faintest shadow of doubt that they’re false, which is what “refute” means).

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