Socialist Worker

Lords back harassing peer

by Sarah Bates
Issue No. 2631

Lord Lester

Lord Lester (Pic: Chris McAndrew/parliament.uk)


Lord Lester, a former Liberal Democrat peer, has avoided immediate suspension from parliament over allegations of sexual harassment.

He’s accused by human rights campaigner Jasvinder Sanghera of sexual harassment taking place 12 years ago.

Lester denies all allegations.

A report by the Privileges and Conduct Committee—the body that oversees Lords’ behaviour—recommended last week that Lester be suspended until 2022.

It would have been the longest suspension of a peer or MP since the Second World War.

But members of the House of Lords voted by 101 to 78 to reject the suspension and refer the case back to the committee.

Worked

Sanghera, who waived her right to anonymity, worked with Lester to make forced marriage a civil offence.

After she missed her train home, Lester offered her a bed at his home.

She told The Times newspaper that Lester offered to “make her a baroness within a year” if she had sex with him.

“He placed his arms around me and further up my body. I forced myself away and he chased me around the kitchen until I asked him to stop,” she said. “If I’d said anything, who would believe me?”

The Lords commissioner for standards said Lester should be expelled, which he appealed.

A second investigation upheld the original findings, but changed the recommendation to a suspension.

Sanghera said the vote to overturn Lester’s suspension was a reflection of “what I can only describe as the old boy network” and made her feel “victimised all over again”.

More Labour peers than Tories voted for the motion moved by Pannick, including leading critic of Jeremy Corbyn Lord Adonis.


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