Lord Lester faces suspension from House of Lords for nearly four years over sexual harassment claim

A peer is set to be barred from the House of Lords for nearly four years over sexual harassment claims in what could constitute the longest suspension from the chamber since the Second World War.

The Lords Privileges Committee recommended the former Lib Dem peer, Lord Lester of Herne Hill, be suspended until June 2022 following a finding that he sexually harassed a woman and offered her “corrupt inducements to sleep with him”.

In a statement the committee said it investigated the complaint from a member of the public, adding it found the 82-year-old had “breached the code of conduct’s requirement for members to act on their personal honour – by sexually harassing the complainant and offering her inducements to sleep with him – and that this behaviour took place in the context of his parliamentary duties”.

It continued: “The committee rejected an appeal from Lord Lester to overturn the commissioner’s finding that he had breached the code.

“If the suspension is agreed by the House of Lords it will be the longest suspension of a member of either House since at least the end of World War Two.”

It comes after Lord Lester – the former Lib Dem spokesman on human rights – lost the party whip earlier this year while allegations of sexual harassment were investigated. At the time, the peer said he would “vigorously contest” the claims.

Peers are expect to vote on Thursday whether to accept the committee’s recommended punishment.

In a statement, Lord Lester flatly rejected the committee’s findings, saying the allegations against him were “completely untrue” and that he had produced evidence clearly demonstrating the alleged events did not take place.

He added: “Independent counsel who previously advised the committee on its procedures provided an advice which concluded that the investigation was flawed. I regret the committee’s conclusions in the light of these materials.

“There has to be a fair process for investigating sexual harassment claims in parliament. Parliament is supposed to be a bastion of the rule of law but has ignored calls to reform this procedure properly for 20 years. I hope to be judged by my work over decades for gender equality, race relations and free speech.”


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