Suspension of Lord Rennard

The Liberal Democrats have just issued this statement:

Nick Clegg made clear last week, and again this morning, that it would be inappropriate for Lord Rennard to resume the Liberal Democrat whip unless he apologises. Lord Rennard has refused to do so.

The Regional Parties Committee, which oversees disciplinary procedures under the English Party membership rules, today decided to suspend Lord Rennard’s membership of the party pending a disciplinary procedure. As such, he cannot return to the Liberal Democrat group in the House of Lords.

Lord Rennard will now be investigated for bringing the party into disrepute on the grounds of his failure to apologise as recommended by Alistair Webster QC.

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This entry was posted in News and Party policy and internal matters.


  • Peter Chegwyn 20th Jan '14 - 2:47pm

    Absolutely ridiculous!

    So we’ll now have another inquiry / disciplinary procedure leading-up to the council and European elections with more and more members siding with one side or the other and more bad publicity in the right-wing Tory press.

    Far from helping the situation this will only make matters worse.

    Surely someone should have got the various parties together, away from the media, to try and sort out this mess.

    This sorry saga has been abysmally mis-handled by the party leadership from start to finish. The only winners are the Tory & Labour parties who must be laughing their heads off (as well as being delighted at seeing the Lib. Dems. most astute political campaigner sidelined just when the party needs his campaigning skills most).

    As I’ve said before, thank goodness we’re not a football team given the number of own goals we score!

  • I think this is unfair, not because I believe he is innocent (I just don’t know) but suspending him ignores the fact he has not been found guilty of the allegations which have been against before him. And recommending somebody to apologize is not the same as telling them to.

  • Martin Gentles 20th Jan '14 - 3:01pm

    The right decision.

  • Eddie Sammon 20th Jan '14 - 3:03pm

    I wanted a compromise. I thought Rennard should apologise, but this seems to be a cavalier use of party rules, under the questionable merit of making someone apologise under duress. Above all, we need to show concern for all human beings involved.


  • Chris Manners 20th Jan '14 - 3:39pm

    So it was possible to suspend Rennard all along? Who’d ha thunk it?

    You really ought not to have given it large on that “new politics” think.

  • John Ramsbottom 20th Jan '14 - 3:41pm


  • paul barker 20th Jan '14 - 4:05pm

    This is Good News & ends the crisis we were facing. If we want to see what this is really all about we need look no farther than Nigel Farage who said today that Women should be paid less because they have babies. Sexism is still a real force, warping both Mens & Womens lives & the struggle against it isnt over.

  • Fadel Galal 20th Jan '14 - 4:10pm

    This issue has been badly mishandled by party leadership which has lead both supporters & opponents of Lord Rennard to be further entrenched in their position. Based on what I understand about the history of this, I believe suspension from the party is not the right way to handle this-at least at this stage. We need to first establish some kind of standard for similar circumstances where an investigation has taken place and failed to prove allegations-if it is appropriate to take action against party member. This is NOT as simple as some suggest to have a politician apologies for something they deny and have not been proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt. This could imply-even to some-of wrong doing and it is not right for people to be forced into making such decision which may have profound implications on their reputation/careers. This is not the standard I wish the party to follow but certainly this should have been properly debated behind closed doors before a decision was made.

  • Bill Chapman 20th Jan '14 - 4:11pm

    Not to worry. It will all be sorted out in the months and years to come.

  • I would imagine that Rennard’s statement in response to this move has been legally checked and if true opens several cans of worms. It appears that the Party has failed to follow its own rules on a number of issues, whether inadvertently or for any more suspect reason this is appalling. I would think this is the worst possible outcome as now there may even be litigation against the party during the Euro elections.

  • Yep, handled very badly indeed. I can’t imagine that any of the claimants are happy with the publicity. Chris Rennard and the party hierarchy certainly wouldn’t be.

    I do think it’s interesting the way it’s been handled in the media – I mean, we all know of politicians with a reputation, yet this is the one that they go for.

  • This is what happens when parties/companies/organisations are not transparent and try to cover things up internally and away from public eye. Speculations escalates which results in more allegations.

    This matter should have been dealt with properly from the very start with an open investigation/disciplinary procedure.

    If someone makes allegations that a “sexual harassment/incident” has occurred, then this should automatically lead to a full inquiry/disciplinary action. But the accuser must be aware and be prepared for the fact that they will have to go on the record and follow through with the complaint if they are wanting redress of any sort (apology,punishment) etc

    All parties should be entitled to know what each person is saying or alleging. This Data Protection rubbish in this incidence is ludicrous and I do not understand it at all.

    I think the major mistake that the party has made on this issue though is this….
    Once the ladies who were the alleged victims of this incident went public with their accusations in the media with details of the incidents, a full Inquiry/disciplinary should have immediately taken place where both the accused and accusers would have to give evidence.
    Transparency in these situations is a must for the accused and the accusers.

  • David Parry 20th Jan '14 - 5:12pm

    For gods sake can someone please take all the spades away from EVERYBODY in the party . There doesn’t seem to be any other way of getting EVERYONE to stop bloody digging!!!

    If we can’t sort out this sort of issue that (sadly) happens daily in many businesses across the country, sensibly and with a sense of proportion, without tearing ourselves apart, what the hell are we doing trying to run the country.

  • I find the idea of an investigation “into Chris Rennard’s failure to apologise” difficult to take. In order to apologise, you need to know exactly what you are accused of. The persistent story that Chris offered to apologise on the basis of “sorry if what I did upset you” basis, which was apparently, thrown back at him, rather rubbishes the idea that any apology would be the end of the matter as far as those accusing him are concerned. If he has on the balance of probabilities committed an offence, then he is in problems with a possible High Court suit ahead, which with Alex Carlile involved, is liable to be a disaster for Chris, the party, and probably the accusers as well.

  • Entirely right decision. Bravo to the courageous four.

  • Philip Rolle 20th Jan '14 - 5:52pm

    I don’t think this is the right way forward at all. Coming back in the car, I heard Tim Farron do a good job of defending the party’s position on the PM programme, but surely this is the only start of many more months of having to focus on this matter. That will be to the detriment of the party as regards its case to the electorate. And for what?

  • Spot on Matt.

    I think a group of people decidng to sanction Rennard as they have today (and backed up incredibly to my mind by Clegg) regardless of his guilt or not is itself guilty of bringing the party into disrepute.

  • Nick Clegg started the day by saying that it was not his job to “micro-manage” this.
    So was he telling us that he was doing this even though it was not his job?
    Orwas he telling us that someone did it on his behalf?

    Who called the meeting of the Regional Parties Committee?
    Was the meeting called without any contact with the leader’s staff?

  • I think the Regional Parties Committee would have been a lot better-occupied organising some parties in the Regions. Who called them together and for what? They should perhaps charge themselves with bringing the Party into disrepute. If Chris Rennard can (and always could) be suspended and disciplined for simply ‘not apologising’ what was the point of the Webster Inquiry and all the intervening months of stress and uncertainty for all concerned?

  • Adrian Collett 21st Jan '14 - 11:03am

    Whatever happened to “innocent until proven guilty”?

  • Graham Handley 21st Jan '14 - 3:15pm

    It seems to me to be ridiculous and unfair to expect Lord Rennard to apologise for sometjhing he refutes and which the enquiry found there was insufficient evidence to establish guilt. Nick Clegg is making matters worse by insisting on an apology in these circumstances. This is trial be media (after faiking to get a guilty verdict in the enquiry).

  • Peter Rainford 21st Jan '14 - 4:03pm

    If What Lord Rennard says in his statement yeaterday is correct (I would urge everyone to read and refelct on it carefully)(and I’m sure it has been carefully checked by his lawyers) Then this suspension and further uneccessary investigation is an abuse of process and further evidence of an orhestrated campaign to remove him from the party even when that is not where the evidence leads Police and internal party enquiries bothg find no case for any charges to be brought. (including the charge of bringing the party into disrtepute)
    The ill advised demand for an apology , for things he has always strenuously denied doing ) seems not to have been Alistair Webster’s responsibility but the Leadership’s …Here is what Chris Rennard says in his statement…

    “I was informed by Alistair Webster QC at 11 am last Wednesday morning that the conclusion was ‘No Further Action’. He went on to say that there would be a press statement accompanying this saying that I should consider an apology and that some of the evidence against me was credible. He told me that the words accompanying the ‘No Further Action’ statement were not his responsibility and that if I objected to them, then I had to take this up with the party and not with him. I had made the offer to the party to co-ordinate and agree responses to the report’s conclusion (whatever it was) in advance. This offer was not taken up. Mr Webster was advised that the proposed press statement in his name was entirely inappropriate. ”

    Why was Lord Rennard’s honourable and politically sensible, offer to co-ordinate media responses to the report whatever its outcome not acted upon?
    Why was such a media statement demanding an apology added to the reports findings when any competent lawyer would know that it was unlikley to be able to be complied with because it vwould weaken Lord Rennard’s case in any civil claim for damages
    Hard not to conclude that Lord
    Rennard has been disgracvefully treated by the party and the process. What has happened to the presumtion of innocence and due process Core Liberal Values

  • Comment on Twitter : “If you take legal action against your own Party, it is no longer your Party” .

  • This is so depressing. I am a heartbeat away from resigning my membership. Can only hope that this is sorted soon.

  • No man or woman is bigger than the Party. Chris Rennard admits he offered to apologise a few years ago but now refuses and instead chooses to drag out a situation that should have been dealt with before Nick Clegg was an MP.
    I am also annoyed with Alex Carlyle whose “holier than thou” approach makes me sick.
    In truth,outwith the chattering classes, the vast majority of people are wondering “Chris WHO” and that’s as it should remain. Grow up into the 21st century and apologise to the women who felt besmirched by your fumbling.

  • David Evershed 22nd Jan '14 - 2:57am

    This is an issue where the Party has to consider not just the finer points of the law but also the politics and the human factors.

    Had Lord Rennard still been an employee of the Party ie as Chief Exec, then sanctions could have been applied on the evidence we have been told about. Since he has stepped down (for ill health) a higher standard of proof is needed before he can be disciplined as a current party member rather than as an employee. An apology was a compromise proposal.

    Lord Rennard taking the Party to Court raises the stakes beyond an apology.

    If he goes to Court and loses then he should expect to be permanently expelled.

    If he wins then he will have to be reinstated but is unlikely to be appointed to any position of authority within the Party.

    Going to Court is a lose/lose strategy for Lord Rennard. He is showing bad judgement and/or receiving bad advice.

  • George Miles 22nd Jan '14 - 10:32am

    With every other news report and post I change my opinions, and yes, I don’t know the full facts, and I consciously and subconsciously project my own past onto these problems – a stronger more centrally controlled party might not have dug itself into this mess – but hey, I’m a liberal, there are more than 2 sides to most arguments, nobody’s perfect, (to the tune of Maybe Its Because I’m a Londoner…)

  • Julian Tisi 26th Jan '14 - 9:48pm

    What an almighty shambles. Clearly the party rules were inadequate and need to change but under the existing rules, Chris Rennard has been cleared. What happened to innocent until proven guilty? In the absence of a proper investigation and trial and Chris Rennard’s continual denial it’s naive to expect an apology beyond that which he has already offered (“I’m sorry if people feel offended but this isn’t an apology etc”). And that’s it. Time to move on.

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