Northern Ireland

Ken Maginnis: Lord accused of verbally abusing parliament staff

Lord Maginnis
Image caption Lord Maginnis has been accused of verbally abusing security staff at Westminster

An SNP MP has accused Lord Maginnis of verbally abusing security staff at Westminster.

Hannah Bardell raised the matter in the Commons on Wednesday, saying it was "one of the worst cases of abuse of security staff" she had witnessed as an MP.

Speaking to BBC News NI Lord Maginnis admitted he became "cross" when he was asked about his security pass.

He defended his actions and said he was in pain because of arthritis.

Ms Bardell told the House that the former Ulster Unionist MP called the security staff "crooked", and asked "do they not know who he was", during the incident on Tuesday.

Speaking to BBC News NI, Lord Maginnis said he believed he was being targeted by Ms Bardell because of views he held on same-sex marriage and abortion.

On Wednesday the Huffington Post quoted Lord Maginnis as saying: "Queers like Ms Bardell don't particularly annoy me.

"Okay, she's got her cheap publicity out of it."

BBC News NI contacted Lord Maginnis to ask him if he had used the term "queer" to describe Ms Bardell, but he declined to comment.

Image caption Hannah Bardell said it was "one of the worst cases of abuse of security staff" she had witnessed as an MP

Speaking about the incident at Parliament security, Lord Maginnis said he was stopped because he was not displaying his pass which was in his bag.

He said he was "slightly touchy" because there was no chair at security and cited the fact he suffers from arthritis and has nerve damage in his feet.

"There was no seat, nor was there a table where I could set my bag up to get my pass out of it," he said.

"It's fairly common knowledge [that] I'm arthritic and I have serious nerve damage to my two feet and legs so I can't stand still and balance with that lack of feeling in my legs.

"And here was this chap in security who was told by a number of well-known people moving through the entrance who I was.

"To which he replied 'I know who he is, but I still can't let him through without his pass'.

'I got cross'

The peer added: "I would be I suppose, slightly touchy when people want to put me through pain and discomfort, especially when they know who I am."

Lord Maginnis said it was "an unprovoked situation" in which he "got cross and I made the fact that I was cross fairly well known".

Speaking in the commons Ms Bardell said Lord Maginnis had not taken advice from staff and MPs like herself who witnessed the matter, and so she had reported it to parliamentary authorities.

Speaker Lindsay Hoyle said no member of security staff should have to deal with abuse while carrying out their duties.

"We are aware of the situation and expect those in the Other Place [House of Lords] to look into it," he told MPs on Wednesday.

In a statement, a House of Lords spokesperson said: "We can't comment on the specifics of this particular incident.

"Parliament has a clear Behaviour Code which defines what is and isn't an acceptable way to behave.

"All members of staff have the right to work in an environment free from abuse or bullying.

"Unacceptable behaviour will be dealt with seriously, independently and with effective sanctions."

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said its officers were in the vicinity at the time of the incident at about 14:00 GMT on Tuesday.

He said they spoke to a few parties but added that no offences were apparent and no police action was taken.

Lord Maginnis became a life peer in 2001.

Prior to that he had been the MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone since 1983.

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