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Peer Guilty Of Homophobia And Bullying Faces 18-Month Suspension From Lords

Arj Singh
·Deputy Political Editor, HuffPost UK
·3-min read
(Photo: Paul Faith - PA Images via Getty Images)
(Photo: Paul Faith - PA Images via Getty Images)

A peer who shouted abuse at parliamentary security staff and called an MP who complained about it a “queer” should be suspended from parliament for at least 18 months, the Lords conduct committee has recommended.

Lord Maginnis was found to have used abusive language to a parliamentary security officer as he tried to enter the building without his pass.

SNP MP Hannah Bardell later raised the issue in the Commons, describing it as “one of the worst cases of abuse of security staff I have seen”.

In the days after, Lord Maginnis told HuffPost UK the security officer, Christian Bombolo, was “crooked”, “a little git” and a “jobsworth”.

The the staff member said this made him feel “humiliated and worthless”.

The Lords conduct committee said this incident constituted bullying.

Speaking to HuffPost UK, Maginnnis also made homophobic remarks about Bardell, accusing her of seeking “cheap publicity” and trying to “score a few points” because he is opposed to gay marriage.

“Queers like Ms Bardell don’t particularly annoy me,” he added.

The committee said Maginnis’s comments to HuffPost UK “met these criteria for harassment associated with the protected characteristic of sexual orientation, and were therefore a breach of the code of conduct”.

Maginnis was also found guilty of homophobic harassment of Labour MP Luke Pollard in a row following a meeting of the armed forces all party parliamentary group, where the peer accused Pollard of being the “worst chairman he had ever seen”.

Later in the evening Lord Maginnis sent an email to James Gray MP, the actual chair of the APPG, copied to a number of other parliamentarians and to my office, with the subject heading “Discrimination by Homos”.

In these emails he complained to Gray that Pollard had “deliberately not called” him despite acknowledging his indication of wishing to ask a question. He described his exchange with Pollard after the meeting as one in which Pollard had “threatened me with his ‘boyfriend’”.

In another row over the incident with Labour MP Toby Perkins, Lord Maginnis was found guilty of homophobic harassment.

Bardell said in a statement she was grateful for those who had helped her through the “grim affair”.

“The extent of Lord Maginnis’s behaviour is now laid bare for all to read and my goodness is it a worrying and depressing read,” she said.

“That someone who is in a position of such power and influence and who is a lawmaker, can think it appropriate to behave in such a manner is truly astonishing.

“I was particularly struck and saddened by the testimony of the security guard who was bullied by Lord Maginnis. I witnessed this as it happened and attempted to intervene.”

The Lords conduct committee said: “The committee has recommended Lord Maginnis of Drumglass be suspended from the House for at least 18 months for breaching the code of conduct in relation to behaviour that constituted bullying and harassment against four different complainants including a parliamentary security officer and three MPs.

“Lord Maginnis’ harassment related to the protected characteristic of sexual orientation and the language he used was homophobic and offensive.

“The committee also recommended that Lord Maginnis’ suspension should be extended beyond 18 months if he fails to engage constructively with behaviour change training.

“His suspension should not end until that training is successfully completed and Lord Maginnis is able to demonstrate a clear understanding of how his behaviour impacts on other people in the parliamentary community.”

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.