Tag Archives: disciplinary processes

Conference motion: Reforming our party’s disciplinary processes

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There is now a superb summary of all the conference motions on the Liberal Democrat website. This allows you to see, at a glance, the final passed motions, incorporating any passed amendments.

One really important motion was that on the party disciplinary process.

This process was initiated by a motion at 2016 conference to review the party’s disciplinary processes. There have been reviews conducted by Helena Morrissey, Ken MacDonald and Isabelle Parasram. The review was delayed by the 2017 general election. The process was debated at the 2018 Spring Conference, where it was referred back for further work.

The Federal Board has appointed a steering group on Sexual Impropriety Complaints, as recommended by Isabelle Parasram.

The motion at the Brighton conference seeks to set up an independent disciplinary mechanism with trained adjudicators and investigators. There will be a strict logging process for complaints, with time limits for resolution.

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Anonymised incident reporting – a way forward for our disciplinary processes

Last Spring, I spoke against our party’s disciplinary motion. “Our party aims to be agents of change and we do so by producing progressive policy’, I nervously spluttered, my first ever time speaking in that bright-lit yet mustardy stage-space. So it is a natural progression then, that this Autumn conference I have submitted my first ever amendment. Heart palpitations aside, I am hoping to positively reform the Party’s disciplinary procedures, so that we can take an innovative and user-led approach to tackling the scourge of sexual harassment and assault.

My proposed system, Anonymised Incident Reporting (AIR) maximizes complainant control when reporting or logging an offence, offering victims a variety of ways to anonymously detail what has happened to them or what they have been witness to. 

To summarise, AIR allows survivors of sexual assault to securely create encrypted, time-stamped records of their assault, and to only formally hand their report to the party as a full complaint when they’re ready to take action. It encrypts all information on both the complainant and assailant, and offers victims multiple options in how they handle their report and whether to turn it into a formal complaint. 

Callisto describes itself as “a non profit organisation that develops tech to combat sexual assault and harassment.”

A year after deciding to report my assault, I ended up finding the process of reporting to be more traumatic than the event itself. Feeling not believed by the people who I thought were there to project me was incredibly destabilizing.

said its creator Jessica Ladd.

An AIR system would allow the party to offer some initial support and advice to anonymous victims both about how they move forward with their report and what other support they can seek.

I, along with others, have developed these ideas along similar lines to the Callisto system used on US college campuses – the technology is now available and using encryption we can give more and better options to survivors. This amendment is nonetheless intentionally open-ended about some of the precise details of the system, in order that we can move towards an AIR system that is well researched and workable for all those concerned. It therefore offers the party scope to see what they are able to adopt, whilst pushing for a radical new approach that puts victims’ agency and their choices at the heart of our disciplinary procedures.

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Proposed new party disciplinary procedures

I love working with a party that is so committed to giving everyone in society a voice. At the moment, though, our disciplinary process doesn’t live up to those values. Far too often it lets down those making complaints, those complained about – and the whole party. That’s why I’m moving business motion F11: Reforming our Party’s Disciplinary Processes at federal conference in September, a motion I hope you will support.

This reform has been a long time coming: for many years now, experts (yes, we Lib Dems still think there is value in experts!) have been looking at our systems …

Posted in Op-eds and Party policy and internal matters | Also tagged and | 3 Comments

Isabelle Parasram’s report into sexual impropriety complaints handling published

Last year, the Federal Board asked barrister Isabelle Parasram to produce a report on how companies involving sexual sexual impropriety in the party should be handled. Should the party inform the Police? What about anonymity of complainants?

This happened because concern had been expressed about how some such complaints had been handled.

The report has now been published. In a post on the members’ section of the party website, Isabelle Parasram said:

As the Head of Greycoat Law (a barristers’ chambers) I have over two decades of legal and policy experience covering the various strands of law impacting this subject.  I am also a Party member, holding roles within the Party as Vice Chair of Liberal Democrat Women, Vice Chair of the London Region, Regional Spokesperson on Brexit, Prospective Parlimentary Candidate and other similar positions.  I understand that these were some of the reasons why I was approached.

My investigation and eventual Report addressed the following key areas (amongst many others that arose out of what I discovered during the course of my investigation):

  1. support in the process for complainants;
  2. anonymity for complainants;
  3. reporting serious crimes to the police;
  4. suspension of members following serious allegations and
  1. how the Party can support members appropriately who are accused of serious allegations.

It is important to note that my focus was entirely on the applicable processes and were not and were never intended to be an additional investigation into the allegations themselves.

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