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  4. UK MP quits for watching porn in Parliament, lawmakers call for radical action

UK MP quits for watching porn in Parliament, lawmakers call for radical action

Conservative Party MP Neil Parish resigned, triggering a by-election in the Tory safe seat of Tiverton and Honiton in south-west England, after admitting he watched adult material twice in Parliament.  

PTI Reported by: PTI London Published on: May 01, 2022 19:02 IST
United Kingdom Parliament/Representational
Image Source : AP

United Kingdom Parliament/Representational

Highlights

  • A British MP stepped down after admitting to watching pornography on his phone in Parliament.
  • His resignation follows multiple claims of bullying, sexual misconduct in Parliament in recent weeks
  • MPs called for “radical” reform of working practices.

Senior members of Parliament are on Sunday calling for radical action in the wake of a British MP stepping down after admitting to watching pornography on his phone in the House of Commons.

Conservative Party MP Neil Parish resigned, triggering a by-election in the Tory safe seat of Tiverton and Honiton in south-west England, after admitting he watched adult material twice in Parliament.

It follows multiple claims of bullying and sexual misconduct in Parliament in recent weeks.

“Some serious allegations have been made, and we must address them as a matter of urgency. It is imperative we do the right thing by staff and MPs as well," Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle writes in The Observer newspaper.

He called for “radical” reform of working practices and revealed that work was underway to establish a Speaker's Conference as a cross-party investigation into the issues involved, as soon as possible.

“In my opinion, it is time to consider radical action, and review structures and processes that could make a difference," he said.

The Speaker said he wanted to ensure the UK Parliament was a "safe and inclusive" place to work.

His views were echoed by Dame Andrea Leadsom, the former leader of the House of Commons, who called for a human resources department for parliamentary staff.

In 2018, the Tory MP had spearheaded the creation of the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS), which looks into claims of bullying and sexual harassment and will now be looking into the case of Neil Parish as well.

"Things haven't changed and that's because there aren't enough cases coming through and it's taking too long for investigations to come to an end," Leadsom told The Sunday Times.

"It's only when you see people being blind drunk and subject to the appropriate sanctions that people will start to think twice about their behaviour," she said.

The dramatic resignation of Neil Parish on Saturday came after days of speculation over the identity of the unnamed Tory MP two female parliamentarians had reported witnessing watching porn in the Chamber.

The Opposition Labour Party says he appears to have committed a criminal offence after the 65-year-old said the first time was accidental but that the second was "a moment of madness".

Jess Phillips, Labour’s shadow minister for domestic abuse and safeguarding, said that it appeared that Parish “of his own admission” had committed a criminal offence under the UK’s Indecent Displays (Control) Act of 1981, under which sentences range from a fine to up to two years in prison.

“If this law was to be applied, it appears he has committed an offence by his own admission,” she told the Guardian, adding that a public information campaign should also be launched as a matter of urgency to enable people to know that watching porn where others could see it is illegal under the Act.

According to UK media reports, around 56 MPs are reportedly facing claims of sexual misconduct and at least three Cabinet ministers are thought to be among the parliamentarians that have been referred to the ICGS over the allegations.

Earlier this week, Labour MP Liam Byrne was found to have "ostracised" a former assistant after an office dispute and is now set to be suspended from the Commons for two days over the bullying claims. 

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