UK & World News

  • 19 August 2014, 22:19

Lib Dems: No Disciplinary Action For Rennard

Lord Rennard will face no further disciplinary action over claims of harassment by four women, the Liberal Democrats have said.

A committee met this week to consider whether the party had been brought into disrepute by statements made by the peerfollowing publication of a report by Alistair Webster QC into the allegations against him.

A spokesperson said: "It decided not to proceed with the disciplinary process against him.

"This brings the matter to a close and means the suspension of his membership is lifted."

The lifting of Lord Rennard's suspension - allowing him to resume the Lib Dem whip in the Lords - is likely to anger critics who called for him to withdraw from public life over the episode.

Former activist Susan Gaszczak, who resigned from the party in July over the failure to expel its former chief executive, said the development showed she made the "right choice".

She said on Twitter: "Very glad I made the right choice in July, the @LibDems have told me I am credible but have no back bone, back to normal then."

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Cleggsaid: "The Liberal Democrats have taken a long, hard look in the mirror since these allegations were made last year and I am confident that the party has changed.

"It is clear that a number of women in our party felt let down that the party failed to act on their complaints appropriately.

"I am determined that no member of our party should find themselves in that position again."

Mr Webster's internal inquiry found there was broadly credible evidence of "behaviour which violated the personal space and autonomy of the complainants", but said wrongdoing could not be proved beyond reasonable doubt.

In the report, published in January, Mr Webster said an apology "would be appropriate" after urging the peer to "reflect upon the effect that his behaviour has had".

Lord Rennard initially refused to apologise and was suspended pending disciplinary action for bringing the party into disrepute by not acting on the recommendations.

But he laid the foundations for his reinstatement in May by issuing a "sincere apology" to the women -Susan Gaszczak, Alison Goldsworthy, Bridget Harris and Alison Smith.

Lib Demparty president Tim Farron said the party had "fundamentally changed" the way it deals with harassment allegations, changing codes of conduct and appointing a pastoral care officer to help those making a complaint.

He said: "No one should ever have to feel that their concerns are being dismissed or ignored and I am clear that the Liberal Democrats should become the 'gold standard' for how voluntary organisations treat their members and staff."