Statement by Lord Rennard

A spokesman for Lord Rennard has just released the following statement to the media:

There will be no court action if the party simply follows its own rules, or if there is a realistic prospect of mediation succeeding. In the meantime, Lord Rennard is still waiting to see the report of Alistair Webster’s investigation, as was promised to him. He was, however, informed by Alistair Webster personally that the report’s only decision was that there should be no further action, as there was insufficient evidence to hold a disciplinary hearing.  Any lawful party action and any mediation will have to reflect this.

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30 Comments

  • Alisdair McGregor 13th Feb '14 - 11:04am

    I hope Lord Rennard will reflect on the lines that state that the allegations were broadly credible, as in my view his claim that the report “clears” him is what is bringing the Party into disrepute.

  • There is no outcome of this that is good for the party. It’s said that Lord Rennard’s ultimate legacy will be of damage done to the party after the long years he spend working to build it up.

  • I didn’t really understand the reason for this statement, but according to the BBC it’s a response to a comment by Clegg on his phone-in programme, that his position hasn’t changed. The BBC still says “Lord Rennard is threatening to start legal action in the High Court against the party by the end of Thursday if his suspension is not lifted.”
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-26170772

  • I thought the report said that those bringing the allegations were broadly credible, not that the allegations themselves were broadly credible. The distinction is important.

    Failure to understand the distinction may be part of the reason for why this has become a mess.

  • Julian Tisi 13th Feb '14 - 1:37pm

    Sexual harrassment is unacceptable…. period. If Lord Rennard did what he is allleged to have done, an apology is the least he should do, be really he should leave the party. But there’s the rub….

    Lord Rennard continues to deny the allegations, the police dropped all charges, the party rules at the time required a criminal standard of proof and they found, as the police had, that this could not be proven. And what about the apology demanded by Alistair Webster? This was not a trial, so any claim that the allegations were credible will not have been tested. Credible does not necessarily mean true.

    Now I don’t hold any brief either for the party leadership or Lord Rennard. Nor do I know what in fact happened. But the party leadership have been cavalier in ignoring their own rules in order to be seen to take the side of the “victims” rather than a fat, middle aged man. For such a man, who has given so much of himself to the party for so many years, I think he deserves due process and it’s increasingly clear that this has simply not happened.

  • paul barker 13th Feb '14 - 3:43pm

    The BBC & some Papers are reporting the Rennard statement as an “Olive Branch”. Thats not how it looks from my end. If Rennard wants peace he should drop The Legal Action & stop talking to the media.

  • Edward Thompson 13th Feb '14 - 4:04pm

    I don’t understand how he thinks mediation can work, he denies he did anything wrong.

  • Before people rush into comments please can they resist the temptation to go over the same stuff that has been said already.

    It is in the best interests of the Liberal Democrats that Lord Rennard’s statement “There will be no court action if the party simply follows its own rules, ” be accepted at face value.

    Would anyone seriously suggest that the party should NOT follow its own rules?

  • Mason Cartwright 13th Feb '14 - 4:47pm

    He is correct they should follow party rules. It’s that simple.

    Unless you have found someone guilty of something there is no credible reason for continuing with this.

    The Lib Dem leadership have spectacularly mishandled the whole affair.

  • Mason Cartwright 13th Feb '14 - 5:02pm

    @ Jack

    Long before the media locked onto this story the Lib Dems had damaged their own support platform such that if they have 50% of the MP’s in 2015 compared to now they will be doing well.

    The party is fatally damaged but that has little to do with Rennard.

  • Alisdair McGregor and others.

    Please look up the common and legal definition of ‘credible.’

    Hint, it does not mean ‘proven’ or ‘truthful’.

  • “I thought the report said that those bringing the allegations were broadly credible, not that the allegations themselves were broadly credible. The distinction is important.”

    We have only Alistair Webster’s public statement, but that says “In my opinion, the evidence of behaviour which violated the personal space and autonomy of the complainants was broadly credible”, which seems closer to saying the allegations themselves were broadly credible.

  • Edward Thompson 13th Feb '14 - 9:14pm

    The party is not fatally damaged .

    At the time of the aftermath of the General Election we had to take some decisions for the national interest. We are suffering for them.

    All of this (with Rennard) is just a story nothing more. It says nothing about the party

  • Tony Greaves 13th Feb '14 - 9:44pm

    Perhaps the statement above that all this is an argument for an elected HoL is one of the daftest of a lot of daft things that have been said in this unhappy and disastrous saga.

    I am very upset that, it seems, the attempt to set up a mediation process (that I tried to get going almost three weeks ago) has ground to a halt. It is being said that the complainants (or some of them) refused to take part in it but I don’t think anyone has clarified whether this is the case.

    As I wrote in the previous thread on this matter, I understand that most of the letter from Lord Rennard’s solicitors to the party, in response to their letter informing him that he had been suspended, was taken up with the details of his claim that the party has not followed its own rules. I also understand that the reasons for his suspension and the new disciplinary process have been changed and are not now “failure to apologise”.

    But few people actually know what is in these letters, and the unhappy leak of a small part of them last week does not help us. Perhaps the best way forward would now be to appoint an independent person with appropriate legal expertise to check this all out..

    It seems clear that if the party has followed its rules, Lord Rennard would have no case to pursue in a court of law. If the party has not followed its own rules the current disciplinary procedures should be brought to a halt. But this is not something we could possibly determine here.

    Tony Greaves

  • Why does my subconcious keep muttering ‘troublesome priest’ at me….

  • Martin I sincerely hope you are wrong (I would be very shocked and surprised if you are right) in your assertion that Webster said “those bringing the allegations were broadly credible”. Don’t you think that you would have had “the allegers” already steaming down the track at Webster? The Police and lawyers are already under very heavy and painful attack for attempts to investigate “credibility” of allegers! It is patronising, old-fashioned and discriminatory, and he could not possibly have made that claim, especially in an investigation for the Lib Dems!

  • Mason Cartwright 14th Feb '14 - 9:11am

    I agree with one part of what you have said Edward:

    “All of this (with Rennard) is just a story nothing more. It says nothing about the party”

    Additionally I was tired of seeing so much media coverage on this topic as it has nothing to do with the real issues our country faces.

    RodCrosby has Rennard actually been found guilty of anything?

    The answer is “no” and he should therefore be left alone and allowed to put his life back together without any further interference from the party or the media.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 14th Feb '14 - 9:19am

    Tony, my understanding is that the complainants are all willing to participate in mediation.

  • I suspect that media silence is the best way forward while as much as possible is sorted out behind the scenes.Tony Greaves, as so often in this case, has been particularly unhelpful in his speculations here.

  • peter tyzack 14th Feb '14 - 12:58pm

    the only reason that the media stay on this story is because they think it will do us more harm (seemingly their only agenda).. so the adage ‘least said soonest mended’ comes to mind..! For most normal people this is now an insomnia cure.

  • All credible means is “CAPABLE of being believed”, or in layman’s terms, not necessarily utter bunkum…

    The legal definition of a “credible witness” is one who is not speaking from hearsay. R. v. Noakes, 1 KB 581 (CCA 1917)

    So a very low threshold indeed. Sufficient merely to refrain from throwing the complaint in the waste bin at the first opportunity…

    Credible does not mean ‘partially proven’, or ‘true’.

    Webster’s comments have been seized upon by laymen, including Clegg, Farron and Alexander, who have no understanding of their meaning ,or of the party’s own rules, and have been used to issue a wholly unreasonable ultra vires ultimatum to Rennard, followed by an unlawful suspension from the party when he refused to comply.

  • Tony Greaves 15th Feb '14 - 1:08am

    “Tony, my understanding is that the complainants are all willing to participate in mediation.”

    Why, then, is the mediation process not taking place? If all the people involved are willing to take part in it, including Lord Rennard, as he has repeatedly asserted, who is stopping it happening? I do not know the answer to this question but we do need to know.

    “I suspect that media silence is the best way forward while as much as possible is sorted out behind the scenes.Tony Greaves, as so often in this case, has been particularly unhelpful in his speculations here.”

    I agree with the first sentence. Unfortunately it is not being “sorted out behind the scenes”, Why not? Who is blocking this? As for the second sentence, I am clear that everything I posted above is fact, not speculation, other than my constructive suggestion for an independent lawyer to check the claims that the party is not acting according to its own rules.

    Tony

  • Anne Denise Diamond 15th Feb '14 - 8:29am

    Perhaps the wholepoint is lost by the argument

  • Rod Crosby, you may well technically be right in the 1917 precedent on “credible witness”, but the term has been used in a very different way, certainly in (informed) press comment in recent years, and particularly in the use by lawyers in sexual cases to “undermine the credibility” of witnesses. So you are wrong in the way it has actually been used. In lay speak, of course, credible means believable.

  • RodCrosby

    If that was all that Webster had said, you would be right. But he said a lot more than that – for example, “the evidence suggests that Lord Rennard’s behaviour has caused distress to a number of women” and “Lord Rennard ought to reflect upon the effect that his behaviour has had and the distress which it caused”. Clearly he did not only find the evidence “credible” in the sense you discuss. He found it strong enough to demonstrate that Rennard’s behaviour had caused distress. He explicitly said that it was Rennard’s intention that would be difficult to prove.

  • “Why, then, is the mediation process not taking place?”

    Cathy Newman, writing in the Telegraph, says that it is:
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-politics/10638399/Lord-Rennard-sex-allegations-scandal-Nick-Clegg-wants-us-to-forget-about-it-but-no-one-will.html

  • Matthew Huntbach 15th Feb '14 - 12:28pm

    See how the media commentary and general discussion on Bill Roache and Dave Lee Travis have been so very different fro that on Chris Rennard. With the first two it’s been accepted that it’s hard to prove one way or the other, and that the principle of innocent until proven guilty must apply. They have had sympathetic coverage about the hurt these allegations and the investigation process has caused them, they have not been asked or expected to apologise for behaviour which was hurtful though not intended as such. Yet if Chris Rennard did all his accusers say, it was a lot less than they did. Coverage and commentary about him has been universally negative, he’s been given no public platform to put his side, and he’s not been given the “innocent until proven guilty” let-off.

    Why the difference?

  • Politics, Matthew, “Politics”.

  • Grace Goodlad 18th Feb '14 - 3:55pm

    Tony Greaves – you say:

    “Why, then, is the mediation process not taking place? If all the people involved are willing to take part in it, including Lord Rennard, as he has repeatedly asserted, who is stopping it happening? I do not know the answer to this question but we do need to know.

    “I suspect that media silence is the best way forward while as much as possible is sorted out behind the scenes.Tony Greaves, as so often in this case, has been particularly unhelpful in his speculations here.”

    I agree with the first sentence. Unfortunately it is not being “sorted out behind the scenes”, Why not? Who is blocking this? As for the second sentence, I am clear that everything I posted above is fact, not speculation, other than my constructive suggestion for an independent lawyer to check the claims that the party is not acting according to its own rules.”

    Let me be paramountly clear:

    1. Both sides in the mediation have agreed to stop talking to the press and public. Supposed “friends” of either sides making statements about the behaviour of the others can only damage any mediation process, the party, and actually the person you are supposedly supporting as it make it seem as if they have breached the rules.

    2. If I was to be indiscreet as you choose to be there is much I and others could say, but I, and many others are seeking to move this forwards and discretion really is the better part of valour.

    3.Claiming that what one side has told you is absolute fact is somewhat naive unless you have been privy to every email, phone call, text message and meeting with mediators and solicitors, and equally so for both sides.

    Rather than making unsubstantiated claims based on hearsay that those attempting to resolve the situation cannot rebuff without damaging the mediation process please be quiet. I appreciate that you are defending a long standing friend and colleague, but these women have loyal friends too. Constantly seeking to “raise the ante” and “up the pressure” is helping no-one in all this.

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